Exploring the Work of John Dewey and How He Impacted the World in the Wake of Covid19

by | Jun 28, 2021 | 0 comments

The Information Age and Principal Leadership 

We live in a time that has been deemed the “information age.” Some argue that in the 21st Century we can be exposed to more information in one week than those who lived in the 17th Century would be exposed to in their entire lives. In many ways that makes our mere existence more challenging as we look to lead our schools effectively. We need discrete skills that enable us to process and filter an abundance of information. Knowing how to discern and weed through all of the channels in order to make sound decisions is a marquee skill of any effective principal. That skill needs to be coupled with another critical and complementary skill, which is knowing how to apply that knowledge in actionable and strategic ways. 

Who is John Dewey and How Did He Impact the World?

Effective principal leaders know how to synthesize information and apply it to the unique needs of their schools. 

This is what brought us back to the work of John Dewey this month. We wanted to study the claims that Dewey might have made about teaching and learning during COVID19. And, we explore this in our 302 Thoughts this month.

Taking what we’ve learned and experienced from the pandemic, we sought to embark on a tried and true classroom practice: problem based learning. We focus on the good that can come from such a tumultuous time in education. We wanted to add an abstract element to spark creativity, so we did our best to filter our ideas through the powerful lens of the great educational reformer, John Dewey.

Critical Ideas from our 302 Thoughts: Student-Centered Learning  

  1. Students and teachers need support in multiple ways and beyond just learning in the classroom. As humans we are confronted with challenges that stifle and limit teaching and learning. Great principals need to understand, recognize, and build support for students and teachers.
    1. A Creative Way to Support Students
      1. Affinity Groups
    2. A Creative Way to Support Teachers
      1. Faculty-led before or after school wellness classes (such as yoga).  
  2. Engagement is everything. Students need to be engaged in the classroom and teachers need to be engaged in their departments and the school as a whole.
    1. A Creative Way to Engage Students
      1. Require students to create questions, not answers, on what is being learned. Stoke their creativity.
    2. A Creative Way to Engage Teachers
      1. Ask them to specifically identify the professional learning experiences that they want.
  3. Opportunities are found in the right mindset. Going through the last year and not learning from all of our trials would be an injustice to our school system.
    1. A Creative Way to Provide Opportunities for Students
      1. Continue to employ the various instructional tools and supports that helped students learn (stay tuned for our ESSER focused blog next month). 
    2. A Creative Way to Provide Opportunities for Teachers
      1. Create ad hoc groups to determine the aspects of hybrid and remote learning that should not be discontinued.

Ultimately, it is up to us to decide if we will learn from the great thinkers and reformers of the past and capitalize on the opportunities of today, no matter what form they take. COVID19 was completely unexpected, and it certainly upended our educational system. Let’s take advantage of what we accomplished and the lessons we learned thus far.

We hope you like this month’s 302 Thoughts as we continue to discuss leadership and the impact that you can have on your community. Next month, we go live with our first ever open audience 302 Thoughts; we hope to see you there.  

Stay tuned for more nuggets of wisdom, podcasts, books to read, reflection sessions, and the best resources for leading better and growing faster in schools. Follow us at theschoolhouse302.com to join thousands of leaders who get our content each month. Send this to a friend. 

As always, let us know what you think of this with a like, a follow, or a comment. Find us on Twitter, YouTube, iTunes, Facebook, & SoundCloud. And, again, if you want one simple model for leading better and growing faster per month, follow this blog by entering your email at the top right of the screen.

TheSchoolHouse302 is about getting to simple by maximizing effective research-based strategies that empower individuals to lead better and grow faster.

Joe & T.J. 

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