Holiday Gift to Our RE@L Readers: Blogger Tom Whitby's "My Island View" Perspective on a Holiday Gift: "Key to Educational Reform" - More Professional Development for All Our K12 Teachers!

RE@L-logo_Corp_TM_New-Tag_8-15-17_CMYK-300x127    101-Regular-Deluxe-2018-WebWhat holiday gift can we give our loyal RE@L Readers? We want something to give that will last longer than a two-year old fruitcake from Aunt Matilda. So, we are looking for a gift that keeps on giving and keeps getting better the more we use it.

Like Aunt Matilda’s fruitcake, a good blog is one that gets better the more good ingredients we add to it. A fruitcake a lot like this one. It looks delicious!

We didn’t have to ponder very long when this gift notion rose to the top of our list:  “Toward Better Teaching and Better Learning.” How might that happen, you ask. We thought it has everything to do with a vault of well-formed plans for systemic Educational Reform and a Key to open it and pass on. 

Yes, there are some fine and promising plans out there, and if relevant, we encourage you to try them. But if you find others, we ask that you let us know what worked for you and what still needs working on. 

Here’s our holiday selection for our readers, (that would be YOU!) its borrowed from the Vaunted Vault of Valued Blogs by longtime Blogger Tom Whitby.

Whitby2Here’s Tom Whitby’s time-honored blog from two winter holidays back in 2016 and ready for a reconsidering, called: “A Key to Educational Reform.”

We think you will find Tom’s insights and suggestions very helpful for improving your version of K12 professional development.

We will add our own RE@L commentary at the closing below.

Tom Whitby’s Holiday Gift:

“The flipped classroom, maker movement, project-based learning, blended learning, student centered learning, hour of code, collaboration, direct instruction, and lecture, there are passionate teacher advocates supporting each of these methods as the best way for kids to learn. I am sure that there are some additional methods or movements that I have not mentioned.

imagesEach of these methods to teach can be effective with many groups of students. The burning question should be however, which is the best way to affect the greatest education reform? The focus for change in education seems to be in finding a way to best teach our students….I think that may be the wrong focus for reform. I believe that if we want to affect the greatest number of students by the way they are taught, we need to better educate their educators about the way they teach.

Collaboration has become an integral part of professional development. We need to not only endorse collaboration, but we need to support it. It is a key to adult learning and teachers are adults.

exploring-andragogy-5-638We must approach all Professional Development through Andragogy, an adult’s learning, and not pedagogy, a child’s learning. Teach adults as adults.

There is not a college or university in the world that can graduate teachers with all that they will need to know to carry them through a thirty-year career as a teacher. The world and everything in it changes too rapidly for that to happen. Learning has to be ongoing. The term life long learner does not only apply as a goal for kids. It is essential for anyone wanting to exist, strive, survive, compete, and flourish in a modern tech-driven society.

…..If standards have to be drawn up for education, why not have standards for PD? The biggest problem with the implementation of common core, beyond the testing aspect, was the fact that there was no support for PD.

….Until we recognize that the greatest effect that we can have on education is by continually educating our educators to the constant and continual changes occurring in their profession, there will be little change in the progress we hope to make in education. We have now and will continue to have 20th Century educators trying to teach kids to live and learn in a 21st Century world.Professional Development must be part of a teacher’s job description.

UnknownIt should not be solely on the backs of teachers to find it. Schools on a regular basis, and not just one, or two PD Days a year should deliver PD on a regular basis each week. Faculty and Department meetings should be more than a mandatory gathering to talk about schedules and policies. Teachers must be given collaboration time to connect with colleagues to implement changes. The best people need to be placed in supportive coaching positions to help facilitate, and reinforce these changes.

Doing PD as we have done for the last two centuries doesn’t seem to be working. This is the one thing that most educators agree with. If we are to better educate our kids, we need first to better educate their educators.” 

Note: Mr. Whitby’s full Blog on this topic can be found at: “


Thanks to Tom Whitby for his fine and focused blog. Tom raises many good points about ways to improve K12 education and provide more Professional Development. The secret sauce of successful reform contains this ingredient.

RE@L believes that the quickest way to help already over-burdened teachers is online collaboration with other teachers….use Facebook, Twitter, find blog columnists: Here’s a sample: Tom Whitby, Vicky Davis, Scott McLeod, Kyle Pace, Shelley Terrell, Anne Jolly…click the names to see their sites… they, and many more experienced educators, are willing to share their ideas too.

Here are some other useful professional development strategies from RE@L that we know work:

  • Form circles for Teacher Professional Development;
  • Use Skype™, FaceTime™, Google Rooms™ - whatever works best to get in touch with other teachers willing to help each other;
  • Lastly, try to find a way for your school or district to have more professional development (PD) time.

Yes, it may cost more, but PD makes far more sense than senseless spending on current standardized testing that standardizes nothing worth standardizing. Nor should it, unless you think a number adequately describes human proficiency. We do not. Better the learners show us what they know, and teachers show us what works.

So that’s our Holiday Gift to our readers. 

Sharing tips is a gift that keeps on giving.

Let’s find more ways for our teachers to show, share and learn from each other. 



 Best wishes to all our RE@L Readers

for a Happy Holidays!

Cheers for an Even Better New Year!

Dale and Tom

Tom King & Dale LaFrenz

Dr. Tom King has served for over 40 years as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Saint Thomas in the School of Education. The Saturn School of Tomorrow, formerly a St. Paul Public School, and his visionary response to educational reform, was a lighthouse on the frontier of school change. Tom was an experienced high school teacher of mathematics, a school administrator, and Director of Technology for the St. Paul MN Public Schools. He is also a member of the RE@L Team. Dr. Dale LaFrenz is Chairman of RE@L and one of the founders of MECC Software who brought “Oregon Trail” to millions of K12 kids everywhere. He has written extensively on the history and evolution of Ed Tech. His work in forging new paths for MECC’S “edutainment" software was instrumental in connecting school-markets, kids, teachers and consumer-markets/kids/parents, and now serves as the new launching pad for RE@L apps and software.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *