A recent visit to Dyersville, Iowa has caused me to reflect on the movie shot in Iowa: Field of Dreams.
The game of baseball is composed of many parts. Players who specialize in a certain positions. Coaches to guide the formation, practices and expertise as a team. Roles on the sidelines to take care of equipment, injuries, scheduling, etc… The coming together of each role for the good of the team provides us another understanding of collective efficacy. In the mist of coming together for the good of the team lies individuals that have a strong sense of self efficacy. Self efficacy is commonly defined as the belief in one’s capabilities to achieve a goal or an outcome. Without each role, the leadership of each person in that role, and the belief in the team as a whole, the game of baseball could not be as successful.
The field of education is much the same. Instructional leadership takes many forms. Each and every person in the school setting is an integral part of the process resulting in student success. Each person has the ability to positively affect the lives of students and the learning community as a whole.
I recently had the opportunity to visit the Van Meter Community School District in Van Meter, Iowa. My intention was to observe their 1:1 computer program in grades 6 – 12, but I walked away with much more! Yes, I was highly impressed with the 1:1 set up as well as all the other technology components I was introduced to on my tour, but it was clear that it wasn’t the technology that was driving the efforts. It was the people and their belief in what they were doing for each of their students, the community, and the global learning environment as a whole. It was evident that collectively they are striving for their own Field of Dreams. That dream is more than each student having access to a computer. Their school motto of THINK, LEAD, SERVE was visible throughout every component of my visit. Each person I spoke with understood their role in the larger picture. Their dream is clearly mapped out, but flexible enough for adaptations along the way. No one person is solely responsible for the implementation of this dream. It was clear that each person I spoke with knew their role in the dream and were valued for their contributions.
I also had the opportunity to attend the Iowa Tweet Up and met two Twitter friends in person. As we talked it was evident that we had similar aspirations of life long learning. For us, Twitter has become a daily source of professional learning. Yet, we all know many colleagues that find their source of professional learning in other modes. Just like our students, know one learns in the same way. It isn’t about the how we learn. It’s about the learning and growing! Each student comes to us with unique needs. These needs equate to opportunities to grow as educators in order to meet those needs.
The field of technology integration is providing us with new, engaging methods to meet students’ needs. Probably the most thrilling part of my visit to Van Meter was witnessing how motivated the students were to share their new learning! They loved sharing their projects and how they were using technology to showcase that learning. Yes, they were integrating Web 2.0 tools – but it was their communication with each other and the world around them that made these projects truly authentic. Finding new methods to meet students’ needs is nothing new in the field of education. I’m reminded of a quote by John Dewey (1858-1952), a 20th century philosopher, “If we teach today as we taught yesterday, we rob our children of tomorrow.” As we take the journey through the 21st Century let’s to remind ourselves of “We need to prepare kids for their future, not our past.” (Daniel Pink). “Build it and they will come!”
What is your dream? How are you building it? Our dreams can be scaled up as in the case of Van Meter or at the classroom, personal or individual student level. No dream is too small! Hold on to it. Strive for it. Build it. Share it!
I’d like to thank all staff and students at #VanMeter. I loved learning from each of you! A special thanks goes to John Carver, Shannon Miller, Deron Durflinger, Jen Sigrist and Mike Linde for sharing their district’s dreams! It is evident that the dreams are truly becoming a reality!
“Is this heaven? No, its Iowa!” ~Field of Dreams (1989)
Erin’s comments below reminded me that I had planned to end this post with “Lessons from the Dancing Guy.”
We do have a movement spreading across the state!