Saturday, June 8, 2013

Reflecting and Re-energizing

One of the great things about summer is that it provides me with the time to reflect and re-energize.  This past year was a blur; it went by so quickly, and for the most part, I believe we were successful.  We made progress on our academic goals, and we were able to communicate with our school community more effectively through the use of social media.  Our Blended Learning pilot program showed us that students can excel and be self-directed learners if they are given instruction, guidance, and choices, and we are slowly transitioning to becoming a Google school with more on-line collaboration and sharing of files by our staff and students.  Additionally, our design plans and cost estimates were approved, we received the funding we requested, and very shortly, groundbreaking on our new buildings will take place.  We can't wait!

This past week, I had the opportunity to attend two conferences.  I am so grateful to Kamehameha Schools and AVID for hosting these conferences during the summer so educators can attend without having to leave their classrooms.  The Kamehameha conference focused on educational technology, and a number of our teachers were able to attend.  Titled, "Imagine," the conference focused on the possibilities for ourselves and our students if we open our minds to new ideas.  I was blown away by Nirvan Mullick's presentation and his video, Caine's Arcade.  As I listened to Nirvan and heard him share the story of a little boy and his creativity, a statement resonated with me.  "Every child is gifted."  Our job as educators is to find that gift and to nurture it.  I also believe, as Nirvan does, that every child deserves a "gifted" program where students are given opportunities to learn in an enriching, hands-on, collaborative, project-based learning environment.  I have always believed that such an environment has limitless potential to engage students and give them the confidence to explore their passions, and I would like to see our students have more of these opportunities in the coming school year.

AVID was originally developed to close the achievement gap and to make the college dream available to all students regardless of their station in life.  Students are told to "Dream Big" and to believe in the college dream.  From its humble beginnings in 1980, the program has expanded from a high school program for a few students to today's program which spans elementary, middle, high school, and post-secondary education and includes thousands of students.  The training reinforced our commitment to eventually implement AVID complex-wide.  The challenge of our site team (thanks, Tami, Lynele, and Keith!) will be to share how AVID fits in nicely with all of the initiatives at the State and school level.  We have some great ideas for introducing AVID to our teachers!

The one challenge for us will be to take what we are learning about technology in education with the essential components of AVID.  As more and more classes and students create ePortfolios, and as we expand what we've learned about Blended Learning to implement components in the "traditional" classroom, binders and planners may soon be outdated.  However, WICOR (Writing to Learn, Inquiry, Collaboration, Organization, and Reading to Learn) are applicable for ALL students if we want them to be successful in life, and we need to ensure that students receive rigorous instruction, learn to ask and answer higher level questions, work with others, and learn organizational skills.  This is particularly important for our highly transient military population.  If our students "Imagine," "Dream Big," internalize and implement AVID strategies, and learn to use technology as a tool for learning and creating, they can be successful wherever they go in the future.  That is our goal at Hale Kula - to prepare our students for success in LIFE!

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