Monday, January 14, 2013

CoPI: View from the Field

Bridgette Wagoner has been an Iowa educator for 14 years and is currently the Director of Educational Services for the Waverly-Shell Rock School District. Below Bridgette shares her views on how the CoPI can make a difference for Iowa’s students.

CoPI-Breaking Boxes and Blurring Lines
The winds of change are blowing throughout Iowa’s educational system. Everyone seems to agree on the need for change, but neither the scope of change nor the pathway to change is clearly defined. From my vantage point, I can see that we’ve come about as far as we can by tinkering with the old system. What stands between us and the next phases of our transformations is a series of lines and boxes.

It’s time to break down the lines that separate schools and districts. It’s time to break out of the boxes of our classrooms and our textbooks. It’s time to dissolve the line that separates teachers and students from decision-makers and power-players. The Iowa Communities of Practice and Innovation efforts -- better known as Iowa’s CoPI -- is doing these things.

     Through a community of practice, teachers are no longer isolated within the boxes of their classrooms or separated by the lines of their districts. They can share, learn, and collaborate in real time to improve student learning with their committed colleagues across the state.
     With the acquisition of open source and digital content, the textbook that traditionally defined our courses is gone. Teachers have the immediate power to change the content that is the vehicle to essential learning. The online format frees students from the boxes of their own classrooms to engage and interact with other learners throughout the state.
     Because it is rooted in the values of project-based learning, we’ve begun to blur the lines between content areas and see through the walls of the school buildings to connect important core area learning with real-life contexts.

The real value of the CoPI project is in the lines it is blurring and the boxes it is breaking down throughout the state of Iowa. Iowa is full of excellent teachers and leaders who have been standing, toes over the line, pushing against the box by themselves for too long. The power is in the community that has proven its ability to break down boxes and blur the lines that have kept us from transforming the system for far too long.

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