Culture is Destiny

I started writing this Blog because I’ve been thinking about and studying how best to use technology in the classroom for over 30 years, and I thought I could contribute to the topic. After all, I was “flipping” my classroom (using analog technology) 25 years ago. As Senior Advisor to the International Center for Leadership in Education I’ve been speaking and leading workshops on technology-based intervention programs, Flipped Classes and Blended Learning for over 10 years.

The focus of this Blog was to help educators at every level more effectively implement technology in the classroom. I’m grateful to have been very busy, working with schools and districts all across the country, even Asia, and Europe. The two essential questions driving my work were: What are the biggest barriers to effective use of technology, and how do we overcome them?

This may sound simple, even obvious, but I’ve learned the answer to both questions is: School Culture. As I studied the differences between districts and schools, I saw clearly that in schools that struggled, the biggest barriers were most often not budget, instructional, or technical. What was holding them back was a negative, sometimes even toxic, school culture. As I coached teachers and principals, and we peeled back the layers of their problems digging for root causes, they said over and over that… their school culture was broken.

It’s not about the technology, it’s about the teaching. The best technology won’t fix poor instruction… and it won’t fix a broken culture. At the International Center, we believe in three things: Rigor, Relevance, and Relationships. But that’s not the proper order. It’s Relationships, Relevance, and Rigor. Building an effective school culture is all about the relationships!

Today there are many writers and resources for using technology in the classroom. But while we’re so focused on making sure everyone is wired; we must also make sure that everyone is connected. The strength of the connection determines your culture. And that will now be the focus of this Blog.

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About Jim Warford

Jim Warford is Senior Advisor and Keynote Speaker, International Center for Leadership in Education. Jim is an author, speaker, Leadership and Instructional Coach. He was named in March 2003 as Florida’s first Chancellor of K12 Public Schools. He stepped down in September, 2005 to become Executive Director of the Florida Association of School Administrators, representing over 10,000 Florida school leaders. As a Senior Advisor for the International Center for Leadership in Education, he works with states, districts and schools to provide coaching and executive training and support to school leaders and their staffs. As Florida’s Chancellor, he led the creation and state-wide implementation of Florida’s Continuous Improvement Model, FCIM, which resulted in that state’s dramatic gains in student achievement and an 80% reduction in the number low-performing schools. FCIM remains Florida’s required intervention for all low-performing schools. As Superintendent of the Marion County, Florida Public Schools, he first implemented the Continuous Improvement Model district-wide. As a result, school grades went from three “F”, eight “D” and only one “A” school in 1999 to twenty “A”, 16 “B” and no “F” schools in 2003. Under his leadership the high school dropout rate was cut in half. Jim Warford is the author of, The Chemistry of culture: Strategies You Can Use to Create a Culture of Learning. He has taught applied technology courses at the high school level for 17 years and created a Computer Graphics/Video Production program that won many national and state awards. He was named Vanguard High School Teacher of the Year three separate times.
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