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Connecting at AASA Makes Us #FASTER

“There's no such thing as the unknown—only things temporarily hidden, temporarily not understood.” – Captain James T. Kirk

Recently I had to practice a speech that set a five-minute parameter. I had to time the words to mesh with 15 slides, each advancing every 20 seconds. This #Ignite format was both exhilarating and daunting. I became a student in the midst of a performance-based assessment activity all over again. I struggled and failed at first. And then something special happened … I got FASTER. Thanks to my friend and colleague Marlon Styles of Middletown City Schools, I used my PLN on Twitter to ask questions and seek reinforcement.

I was encouraged by many educators. I used the web to find YouTube clips of other Ignite speech examples to study. I wrote and edited multiple drafts of my speech on the fly with a Google form  while using my stopwatch app to time myself and the slide transitions. What started off as a seven-minute mess became a decent 6:15:00 diatribe. I cut to 5:30:00 with a mirror and larger fonts. But I couldn't succeed alone. Then, I involved others to critique me! With live practice and confidence built up by peers, I got faster. I earned a stealthy 5:00:00 the day of the live event. I got faster.

AASA provides superintendents and district leaders with a platform to risk and fail and learn and celebrate and grow! Soon, we convene for another chance to get #FASTER with some of my Eduheros, like Glenn Robbins, Nick Polyak and Matt Miller. I'm looking forward to learning from leaders who understand that creating success locally is about effective leadership, the theme of this year's conference. Let us not forget for one second that public education is surrounded by competition. More importantly, knowledge acquisition is moving faster by the day, month and year than we adults can even imagine. Since the time of Gutenberg, it's been accelerating and this warp speed spaceship of change isn't slowing down for anyone … no one. Moore's Law is all around us. So why not take time to use time to build capacity to grow your own leadership skills and those of your team?

It’s our charge as leaders of this nation's public schools to build capacity to help children prepare and cope and succeed in an environment that by its very nature will be FASTER than any experienced before. Adults need to learn to model learning FASTER, move FASTER, and apply skills for impact FASTER. Or we will be … SLOW, and left behind by the future.

If there's one thing I've learned about public education in this century, it's that we have to learn to go further. If you want to go it alone in public education, you'll be slow. You won't compete at all. You'll cease to exist. But if you want to go higher, to achieve personal and professional dreams and secure the blessings of freedom for you, your family and friends, go higher together.

If you want to reach higher, reach together. And if you want to keep pace with the future you'll have to go FASTER. Children need heroes who are willing to go higher, further, and FASTER than ever before. They need leaders. Use AASA's offerings and your colleagues to be their heroes!

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