Getting Unstuck: Analyzing the Potential for Change in a Complex System: How to Change K12 Education – an Interview with Peter McWain

When people accomplish what they previously thought impossible, they will settle for nothing less in the future. — Peter McWain

What is the goal of U.S. education in an ever-changing world? What do we want for our students when they walk across the stage to receive their high school diploma? How do we need to look at developing new and current teachers differently?

To help answer theses questions, we welcome educator Peter McWain. Peter is currently the Director of Curriculum and Instruction for the Santa Fe, New Mexico Public Schools. Peter has taught in several states, served as a dean of students, assistant principal, head principal, program coordinator, and instructional coach.Here, Peter reviews the lack of agreement among key stakeholders on answers to these questions and the obstacles standing in the way of more systemic change.

Why are we still dividing our classrooms into subjects when that’s not happening in the real world?

Listen for:

• The major problem we face today in K12 education.

• Why there is resistance to systemic change in K12 education.

• The one question we should be asking students.

• How we should be educating students differently than we currently are.

• How we need to look differently at professional development and teacher development.

• How educational leaders can best discriminate among the plethora of micro changes.

After listening to the episode:

  1. When did you ever experience something so exceptional that it changed your outlook?

  2. Where do you rely on metacognition – self reflection – in your life?

  3. Peter remarked at one point “If you are not a whole person, it’s hard to bring a whole person to your students.” If you’re not a teacher, take out the word “students,” and substitute “colleagues” or “staff” in its place. Now, how does that statement impact you?

  4. With your team, go through the exercise discussed in the segment. Each individual writes down the organizational “why” on a piece of paper and compare notes.

  5. What kind of impact are you trying to have in your current work?