Nothing Less Will Do.

Why am I starting a blog? This isn’t just a rhetorical question—I’ve actually been asking myself this question. After all, there is no lack of bloggers already out there. The truth is, I’ve been writing a blog for a long time—but just in my head. Some people may say I’ve been talking to myself, and they may be right—but it’s really more than that—I discovered that I actually construct blogs, tweets, article frameworks, and even book ideas in my head on a regular basis. The problem is that I’ve just never gotten serious about acting on those thoughts and capturing them in a formal way.

I’ve spent more than three decades in the field of education—as a paraprofessional, as a substitute teacher, as a K-8 classroom teacher, and as a higher education professor and administrator. I’m experienced in both face-to-face and online learning; I’ve worked in both private and public institutions, non-profit and for profit; in traditional and alternative programs; in faith-based and in secular institutions. I’ve seen the pendulum of change and education reform swing back and forth, and have lived through many initiatives–some that worked well and some that didn’t. The troubling thing is that we seem to keep asking some of the same questions, which leads me to believe that there is still a lot of room left for thoughtful, purposeful conversation, contemplation, research, and practice. While it is impossible for one person or entity to resolve all of education’s challenges, I have identified some key areas that are of particular interest to me, including:

  • What is the very best way to prepare teachers and other school leaders?
  • How can we solve the teacher shortage—not just with warm bodies, but with teachers of excellence?
  • How can schools, families, and communities work together to nurture healthy, happy, productive citizens and contributors to society?
  • What is the role of technology in an educated society?
  • How can we improve retention and graduation rates?
  • What professional dispositions are most closely associated with teachers of excellence?
  • How do we know when our teaching is truly having a positive impact on students’ learning?
  • How can educator preparation programs partner effectively with P-12 school districts to elicit true long-lasting positive change?
  • What role does accreditation really play in academic quality?

 

This is just a partial list, and I may be adding to it in the weeks and months ahead—but I find myself thinking about these questions a lot. I don’t claim to have all the answers, but I do have opinions based on experience coupled with an innate curiosity and a desire to be a positive contributor to society—hence this blog. I fully recognize that not all of my readers will agree with my perspective (assuming someone else actually finds and reads this blog), and that’s OK—I hope I’ve created a space where we can engage in a polite conversation about topics that are important to our society. And perhaps, if others are interested, we could collaborate on tackling some of these issues. Wouldn’t it be great if together we could make truly make a difference?

The bottom line is that at this point in my life and professional career, I have concluded that I am not serving the greater good if I allow myself to become accepting of and complacent with the status quo. Truthfully, I’ve seen enough sloppiness, carelessness, incompetence, and downright unethical practice to last a lifetime—and I’m tired of it. Enough already. In order to excel as a nation, we must expect and demand top notch educators who will facilitate the learning of top notch scholars and workers. That means the educational institutions themselves must be second to none, and right now many are falling far short. We’ve got a lot to talk about!

Thanks for reading my first blog; I do hope you’ll roll up your intellectual sleeves and join me in the quest to make a positive difference in the lives of others through academic excellence—nothing less will do.

 

–rrf

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