Doing things the way they’ve always been done is not a part of my shtick. As the chair of the Educational Improvement Council (EIC), I first led the Denton ISD through a process of rebranding of its mission, vision, values, and goals utilizing social networking to bring input from the students, parents, educators, business and community members in the development of the mission of the district after 20+ years of the previous statement. Currently, I am leading Denton ISD in the development of a community-based accountability system reflecting the community’s values and the district’s progress towards addressing and achieving the community’s wishes to add value to the State’s current rating system weighted by standardized assessment scores. Additionally, I am leading our district through the process of becoming a “District of Innovation,” a term defined in the Texas Education Code empowering school districts to enjoy some of the same flexibility given to charter schools by allowing the district to be exempt from certain requirements imposed by state law.
Having spent seven years leading an exemplary elementary school campus in West Texas, I refer to myself as a “recovering principal.” Despite spending only four years in the classroom prior, I have always been a teacher. Today, I continue to teach students across our district such as a series of lessons I taught on fostering a growth mindset from kindergarten to high school. For the past 10 years, I’ve delivered presentations and keynote speeches across the country on topics such as the changes required for future of education and 21st Century learning, strategic planning through district and campus improvement planning, utilizing technology, managing Title funds and working with students of poverty as well as developing engaging presentations. In May 2016, I gave a TEDx Talk, “Education Is None of Your Business,” highlighting how schools have operated on an institutionalized factory model for well over a hundred years with politicians and big business interests mandating education to fit into an obsolete factory model. Citing the words of retired superintendent, Dr. Jeffrey Turner, “The real challenge for education today is we are running a 19th-century system, using 20th-century accountability, and expecting 21st-century skills,” Shade led the audience through an examination of how education policy got to this point and to consider what is needed to tip the scales from the heavy-handed “business model” of education to a model designed to meet the needs of the 21st century through the creation of content, not the consumption of it. The talk was one of a series of talks on “disruptive innovation” in Lewisville, TX.
Before you attend a session, know there is only one norm. If you have a smartphone, turn it on. If the session isn’t relevant and engaging, use it. Bring your phone, you won’t need it.