When working with superintendents with short attention spans, Tim Hilborn takes “them to the edge of wanting more and drops them, repeatedly, with multiple pedagogies that they can use in their world,” he wants to create enough urgency and interest that they want to dig in for more.
Hilborn is Chief Instructional Officer for TRECA. Founded in 1979 as an IT support center for 36 school districts in north central Ohio, the TRECA staff also provide back office and instructional support. But what is really remarkable is the learning opportunities that Hilborn and his team create for superintendents.
Most education conferences continue to use theater seating, microphones on draped tables, and panels that go bla, bla, bla–no evidence that anyone planning the session considered anything about adult learners. It’s refreshing to work with someone like Tim who works hard to create powerful learning experiences for education leaders.
The TRECA PD team is made up of former administrators, teachers and digital natives who focus on supporting the entire system in a year long project to establish personalized learning models. They recently took a group of central Ohio superintendents to Boston for a three day retreat. By leaving town, they were able to build long uninterrupted days that included both fun and reflective time. The team guided the superintendents as they:
- Discussed Teaching Students to Learn Using the Dominant Media;
- Addressed 10 Questions Every Superintendent Should Answer;
- Competed in school design workshop (like #ChoppedEdu);
- Rotated through a quick socratic seminars on blended components;
- Dove into blended learning demos with Dreambox math and PEG writing;
- Participated in a Google Chat with innovative teacher leaders;
- Identified critical roadblocks and potential solutions;
- Identified 10 Things Superintendents Should Do Now; and
- Completed two video Ed Talks articulating the vision and expectation moving forward.
Every session was well constructed with desired learning outcomes; they were fast paced, interactive, and partially self-directed. They all included reflective activities that encouraged an unusual amount of openness among superintendents who are often more eager to share successes than challenges.
The superintendents will continue to meet quarterly to evaluate progress and identify additional learning opportunities and will soon be joined by their Leadership Team to define and expand the initiative. Team TRECA will provide the same learning opportunities to building principals as they lead the movement to personalization at the building level.
Hilborn’s team also operates TRECA Digital Academy, a public online K-12 school serving nearly 3,000 students. The school has a full curriculum and has demonstrated expected success with dropout and prevention students.
I appreciate how Tim’s team frames the opportunity of personalized learning and supports leaders where they are on the journey. TRECA makes the work of being a superintendent a little less lonely and the path forward a little more clear.
For more, watch my 12 minute Google Hangout with Tim.
TRECA is a Getting Smart Advocacy Partner.