I've told a lot of people that our district has one of the best superintendents...ever. Seriously, he's awesome. He has a vision for education that seeks to increase student engagement and develop a student's sense of personal agency. His platform for doing this is something he calls iPersonalize. It's hard to define exactly what iPersonalize is, but it is a gamified curriculum that is enriched by geolocation games and transmedia storytelling. The goal in the end is to help students release the superhero within themselves. In other words, kids shouldn't have to wait until they're older adults to make a difference in their communities or the broader world. They can, and should, make a difference now.
Today was the kick-off event for the 8th grade English Language Arts group. The district hosted 450 students in three rotations through an awesome "hero bootcamp" where they learned about the epic storyline and got to experience different activities including geocaching and robotics. It was a day of crazy fun.
This evening, I took some time to go through the Google plus feed from the day to see what was posted by our students. It was clear that they had a great day and I hope their excitement carries forward as they move through the rest of iPersonalize this year. Really, there's no need for hope here because with the incredible classroom teachers working on this, it will be successful. There's an optimism this year that I don't know was present last year.
It's important, I guess, to note that this is the second year of iPersonalize. The first iteration of the program was okay, but wasn't a home run. Students in the program achieved more than those in a traditional classroom, but they were rather ho-hum about it. And since the point was developing agency as much as increasing achievement, it had room for growth. Our superintendent could have said, "We tried our best, but it didn't work out." But he didn't. He gathered great feedback from students and doubled-down for Round 2. His perseverance and commitment to the vision is laudable and just one of the reasons why he rocks.
When you have an administrator that is willing to take risks, and go through the design process to optimize a program, you feel like you can do the same. I think, in this regard, he sets a great example for all of the staff district-wide. It's an example that I want to remember should I ever find myself in a leadership position.