Yesterday saw Radical Nation join together with Anthony Muhammad for the beginning of a four-day focused conversation on transforming school culture and overcoming staff division (see here)—-and the conversation has been nothing short of amazing!

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised—y’all have proven to be brilliant time and again over the last three years—but I never expected to have my thinking challenged so quickly or so often.

Here are some conversation highlights:

On the first slide, George Mayo asks how teachers consumed by work in classrooms can find the time to get involved in driving school change.  Good question, huh?  Everyone seems to agree that teachers are the key to driving change in schools, but how can we do that when we’re wrapped up with students all day long.  While we may be progressive and willing, finding time to invest energy into driving change outside of the classroom is hard to do.

On the fourth slide, Tad Sherman talks about “Believer Burnout.”  He mentions his initial commitment to working in high needs schools and then shares that after a few years of intense effort, he couldn’t move forward anymore.  Tad’s comment has other participants wrestling with an important question for school leaders:  Is the life span of Believers much shorter in high needs schools than it is out in the ‘Burbs?  Do principals/district leaders have to take different actions to support/reward/ protect Believers in high needs schools?”

On the seventh slide, my TLN blogging friend Renee Moore asked a killer question when she wrote, “I’ve been in situations where a critical mass of teachers were actually Believers, but the administrators were in the role of Fundamentalists. How does that fit in your model? Did you see this very often in your research?”  This is going to be a great strand of conversation:  Can teachers be change agents in buildings where administration seems resistant?  And if so, HOW?!

I’m also kind of wondering right now whether or not you’re more likely to find a commitment to the status quo in the ranks of administrators than in the ranks of teachers.  Is it possible that there is just too much at risk for today’s principal to take a whirl at upending the ol’ apple cart?

A pointer for participants:  Many users have asked whether it is possible for one person to leave more than one comment on each slide.  The answer is yes—and I hope you will!  Ongoing dialogue between participants around one concept is what makes a conversation healthy.

When you do, though, you won’t see a new icon added around our focusing quote.  In order to keep a slide from getting cluttered with icons, whenever a participant adds a second comment to a slide, Voicethread adds the comment to the conversation without adding a new icon.

Other participants will know that you’ve added a second comment by looking at the timeline found beneath each slide, where they will see a new yellow comment tab.  They will also see a yellow box—and a groovy yellow speech bubble—surrounding your icon.

Here’s to hoping that you’ll take the time to stop by our conversation before it ends on Saturday!  Not only will you learn a ton….we’ll learn a ton from you!

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