Twenty-first Century: Now is the time to increase capacity, everyone's capacity.

The last two days I spent a lot of time listening to a consultant from ISM. I really know very little about ISM, it was a gift opportunity. I also know little about consultants, I am rather new to the administrator gig and in fact still teach physics for one period a day. So what this all leads me to say is I am not sure what grains of salt to put on what parts of what I learned. I will say this, consultants can say whatever they want and that in and of itself is fun.

He started with a presentation on twenty-first century skills. I think about this a lot because my school and my classroom are places where people think these skills are developed. He had a lot of lists of the skills, the most intriguing one was from a presentation that I had delivered a while back that was buried on our website. He did his homework. He went on to say that he thought that twenty-first century skills were something different. They were less skills, because as he pointed out, everyone in the room full of administrators had most of the twenty-first century skills without having been educated then. He thought that the expectations were different in the twenty-first century.

I have some thoughts on some of his list, but first he said that the rule for the twenty-first century academic administrator is to build capacity in their faculty. As is so often the case I had never heard it put so succinctly before, but I think this is true. As a Technology Coordinator before and an Instructional Specialist now I have been building capacity in teachers for a long time. However, I wondered in my reflection on the point if it was not broad enough. I wonder if we must all be capacity builders in school, and really in all of our life.

All of us need to increase our capacity and the capacity of those around us. Somehow somewhere even those of us who went to college have lost or not maintained the ability to increase our capacity. We want to be told what we need to do to get the job done. I spent probably ten years as a good teacher not changing too much, reflecting for sure on what went right and wrong but not really doing much more than tweaking around the edges. The last few years my curriculum has been new each year and probably not repeatable. This year I am spending time developing units that I know will not be compelling to students next year. I am confident that the experience of making lessons that are reactive, local and relevant will be and awesome tool and open the doors I need open for future classes to succeed. I am building my capacity to respond to the people around me and support them where they are at. Never done. All can improve. No finish line.

Schools needs to be a place filled with capacity builders. Administrators need to imagine what their teachers and students could be and support them to be that. Teachers in turn tended to ask their administrators for help building capacity. They need to spur their colleagues on to better capacity and they need to build it in their students. Teachers need to build capacity in their administrators by supporting their work, and helping where needed. Students should be expected to build capacity in all the people around them as well; other students, their teachers and administrators. We will know we are building capacity into our students when they start to build capacity into us. School should be a place where everyone improves.