February 2014 Backboard

Green Strides online

Think green schools are just about building and construction? A major part of the green schools movement is about curriculum and what we’re teaching our students about ecology and conservation.

The Green Strides column for this issue features a free new resource for teachers to bring some of the nation’s greatest environmental treasures to students: the National Park Service website for teachers, www.nps.gov/teachers. It provides park-based resources for more than 125 subjects, ranging from archeology to biology to constitutional law.

An English class can study literature with a lesson plan from the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site, a history class can borrow a traveling trunk from the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, a science class can chat live with a ranger from Grand Canyon National Park, and future explorers can climb Mount McKinley in Denali National Park. The site also features 147 lesson plans from the National Register of Historic Places' award-winning Teaching with Historic Places program.

The Green Strides column is online at www.asbj.com/HomePageCategory/Online-Features/ReadingsReports. You can read other facilities and design articles at www.asbj.com/TopicsArchive/ FacilitiesandSchoolDesign.

Also online for this issue:

• Doug Eadie’s Governance column has moved online to www.asbj.com/HomePageCategory/Online-Features/ReadingsReports. In his latest column, Eadie outlines how school boards can take ownership of and commit to their governing decisions

• Read about a new assessment tool that can help districts identify and hire high-quality beginning teachers in Mary Diez and LuAnn Bird’s online-only feature, “Strong Starts,” at www.asbj.com/HomePageCategory/Online-Features/ReadingsReports

• Keep up with the latest education reports and research at www.asbj.com/MainMenuCategory/Supplements/EVS.

Q&A with Angela Maiers on leadership and Web 2.0

Angela Maiers wants to take your breath away. The teacher, speaker, and social media evangelist says school board members -- and everyone else -- need to find out firsthand how new connections and technology can change education.

“It’s imperative that the school board experiences these life-changing possibilities that the Web offers,” she says. No one can describe how this feels -- you have to feel it to understand it. Maiers talked recently to ASBJ Editor-in-Chief Kathleen Vail on her role as a General Session speaker at NSBA’s annual conference in New Orleans in April.

What message are you bringing to school leaders?

We will be talking about leadership and learning in the digital age and the age of connection. The connected age changes everything: our access, our ability to learn with and beside and for each other. It redistributes power. The decision to learn is an inside-out one. It’s a decision by the learner to be transformed. Until you understand that condition, it’s hard to provide guidelines to learning.

Why is it so important that school board members understand this?

The board members often are late adopters, but they are in charge of the decisions about what to adopt and how to behave. It’s not just about getting school boards on Twitter -- it’s understanding how messages are being communicated. Can you imagine leading the community when you don’t have the information about communication?

What is the challenge in getting this information to board members?

We still operate with closed doors, and the person in charge is the smartest person in the room. If we keep doors closed, we are protecting our power. No single individual can compete with the room, the knowledge and experience of the room. The crowd makes individuals smarter. You can fight for your place, but you will lose.

Why is this about more than just technology tools?

Underpinning this is that you matter, and you have the ability, no matter what role you play, to teach any time you enter the room. If you understand that, you can build on those skills. I called them habitudes -- disciplined habits and attitudes. You need the mindset of “I matter, and I will work on listening carefully to my community and care about what they care about, so I can adapt to that.”