Friday, December 3, 2010

A Passionate Principal’s Thoughts On Change – Chris Lehmann’s CMTC Keynote

This is a review of a presentation I attended yesterday that was originally posted on the Connected Principals Blog.

I had the pleasure of listening to Chris Lehmann’s Keynote at the Christa McAuliffe Technology Conference in Manchester, NH this morning. His opening slide (pictured above) was certainly an attention grabber and you can check out his entire presentation here. Here are some of the remarks that I found most meaningful.

Opening Concerns

“We have incredibly caring teachers in a system that sucks.”

“I have this huge concern that school stinks.”

“If school teaches us nothing else shouldn’t it teach students how to learn. Do we have a systemic process (in each school) that teaches kids how to be to that? become lifelong learners?”

In regards to the question of the focus of schools being Creating Citizens or Creating Workers

“Our job is greater than creating workers it is to help students become citizens. If we shoot for citizens we will get the workers we need. If we shoot for workers we will not get the husbands and wives and parents that we need. If all we teach kids about is being a cog in the machine then we have failed them and we have failed ourselves.”

About the importance of the culture we create in our schools

“Until we make schools healthy places for adults they will never be healthy places for children. We will never bully teachers into caring for kids or becoming better teachers.”

How do we get there?

“The ethic of care should be the first thing in our schools. If you take nothing else away change your language about what you say you teach from I teach math or I teach second grade to I teach kids.”

“Kids can care about their school. We want them to say I went to that school and that matters.”

“The final goal is to have kids that know they are cared about. We want to create students who are thoughtful, passionate, wise and kind.”

We are the ones who can and must make the change!

“No one is coming to save us. We must organize and come up with our own answers. We need to reach out to our students and our parents and empower ourselves.”

“Be willing to be transformed. We cannot transform students if we are not willing to be transformed ourselves.”

“When we do all this we have a shot at changing the world…”

Thanks to Chris for the inspirational words and for continually giving other schools something to aspire to! I encourage you to check out his school’s webpage for a concrete example of how Science Leadership Academy is changing the world for its students! I also recommend that you take a few minutes and watch this great profile of SLA from Apple.


  1. Yes, this is another very good article. I tend to be resistant to change at times. For instance, I just bought some new appliances at my house. Although these newer, more efficient, more environment-friendly and more compact appliances are supposedly better for the consumer, they take more time to perform their mission. I, the "throw back" prefer the older ones.

    On a more optimistic note, let's talk about technology, which is changing minute by minute. It has been a great help to me. In fact, in my Spanish class today, we'll be implementing technology to fabricate a product, a school newspaper in Spanish. My ultimate goal is to get the students to put this on a blog. I brought in my Ipod Touch (an early Christmas gift which my husband purchased for me to assist me in my teaching.) Although I can manipulate this device fairly well, I am looking forward to having my students help me to master it even more. We'll be working together to make a product in Spanish. I'll be teaching them the grammatical skills and concepts for the project, and in turn, they'll be teaching me how to use these devices more effectively and efficiently in the product's fabrication. They're excited about the project! It encourages me greatly seeing their enthusiasm and engagement in the course.

  2. Susan,

    As always, thanks for the positive feedback and for always being willing to try new things to engage your students.

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