Sunday, March 6, 2016

If Ferris Bueller Was At Our School #savmp #KidsDeserveIt #PrincipalsInAction #edchat

This post is co-written with Jon Harper and Adam Welcome. Jon is Vice-Principal at Sandy Hill Elementary School and his blog is featured on EdWords and BAM Radio! Adam is Principal at Montair Elementary School and co-founder of Kids Deserve It.

Ferris Bueller has come up in many presentations over the years. Adam has blogged about him before and there are a plethora of quotable moments in the movie that are timeless.

Then just the other day a question popped into Adam’s head -

"What would he do if Ferris Bueller was enrolled in his school?"

Adam could have written this post solo, but how fun would it be to have another perspective to add. A couple of quick Voxer messages and Jon Harper was on board!

While we’re not asking you to write a post, we are curious as to how you would handle Ferris Bueller were he to show up in your building tomorrow morning. So please leave any thoughts in the comments section below. We’d love to know how you would handle this rapscallion.

The competition for our students’ attention and energy is fierce. We are all well aware of the fact that the gaming industry spends exponentially more money on research and development than our education departments. While much of that is out of our control, we do know that when our students are with us, they are not always “with” us. They can be thinking about their own life, troubles at home, issues with friends, or how the curriculum they’re being taught isn’t engaging or exciting. 

Since we know this to be the case, why not try to channel some of this Ferris Bueller-like energy while our students are inside our buildings? I think if we don’t, we run the risk of losing them and more importantly, their creative energy, to grander schemes and greener pastures. And while I don’t think that our students are going to pull off any downtown parades like Ferris did, I do worry that we may be gradually putting them to sleep as Ben Stein so effectively demonstrated. Anyone...anyone…?


School was a different place in 1986 when the movie came out. They didn’t have Genius Hour, 20% time, Chromebooks, Google Apps, Kahoot, iMovie, podcasting or even Flipped Classrooms. 

If you have a student like Ferris Bueller in your school, class or district and someone isn’t harnessing their potential, we’d consider them at risk. At risk of not being challenged - at risk of falling through the cracks - at risk of being disengaged - at risk of getting into trouble - at risk of not accessing their absolute full potential - it’s our job as educators to reach all students and push them as far as they can go! 

If Ferris Bueller was at your school, what would you do? Many school leaders that we know are already doing it! They’re challenging kids in new and innovative ways, that push their thinking and open access to programs that have the power to engage their entire student body. 

Here is how they are getting it done: 

Student Run EdCamps  

Yes, you read that correctly. There are places across the country where EdCamps are being run solely by students. One such place is Northfield Community Middle School in Northfield New Jersey. Principal Glenn Robbins and his team have handed the reins over to the students. At least for a portion of the day.

The results have been amazing! In Glenn’s own words, “students rush to sign for classes.” In the past year alone, numerous teams have visited Northfield, to see for themselves the magic that is taking place. And they have left inspired and confident that they could do the same. I can picture Ferris right now. He’d be the one at the board. Marker in hand, orchestrating and arranging all of the amazing sessions that would soon be taking place.

To read and see more of what I am talking about click here.

Genius Hour 

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” 
Albert Einstein 

This is a time of the day when students get to pursue their passions. For the most part, as long as they can show that they actively engaged in a topic of interest, they are set free to go any direction choose. I am certain that many of you reading this are already aware of this concept of Genius Hour. I shudder to think what Ferris would have created had he had this time each day to tinker and explore. 

But I can’t lie. I would have been waiting in the front row when it came time for him to present.

With a blog titled, Engage Their Minds you just know it’s gonna be good. What Terri Eicholz provides via her resource-packed blog is nothing short of amazing. She is someone who has taken Genius Hour to a whole new level. If you have not already, I highly recommend you visit her page to find all of the resources you could ever dream of on this topic.


“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while.”

Steve Jobs 

Sometimes we must simply provide students with the time, space and freedom they need to create. We can help by giving them access to various tools and materials. But other than that, it is important that we get out of the way. And let them create. And make. And fail. And fail again. Because eventually, they succeed and produce something we never thought possible.

When looking for examples of successful Makerspaces, one need look no further than Laura Fleming, library media specialist at New Milford High School in New Jersey. What she has created, written, and inspired in many, is nothing short of amazing. To learn more about her work and to witness firsthand how she does it, visit her site.

Social Media Interns

“Grown-ups love figures... When you tell them you've made a new friend they never ask you any questions about essential matters. They never say to you "What does his voice sound like? What games does he love best? Does he collect butterflies? " Instead they demand "How old is he? How much does he weigh? How much money does his father make? " Only from these figures do they think they have learned anything about him.” 

Antoine de Saint-Exupery, The Little Prince 

Jason Markey has taken social media exposure and guidance to a whole new level for his students at Leyden High School. Jason promotes his #leydenpride hashtag with the entire school community and also has his journalism and school newspaper share their work constantly. Check out this post from a student on what they think about Twitter!

Adam started a program called Social Media Interns where he gave 5th graders an iPad and had them go around campus to take photos of students in action. They would then work with Adam on crafting Tweets for each photo, including the school hashtag, using filters and ensuring the identity of each student was safe.

Every two weeks new students would start the program, the only thing is Adam didn’t train those new recruits. The previous interns would show them the social media ropes and how to be socially responsible for the school!

Can you imagine how amazing Ferris would have been at running your school’s social media accounts!

Those That Are Connected

 “In my dream, the angel shrugged and said, if we fail this time, it will be a failure of imagination and then she placed the world gently in the palm of my hand.” 

 Brian Andreas 

It really wasn’t his fault, Ed Rooney had to be a manager. Our schools were run differently thirty years ago. At least he was using a computer to the track attendance of his students.

Then we think about principals like Lynn Colon in Virginia, Mark French in Minnesota and Jessica Cabeen in Minnesota who just this year alone have started Coding Clubs, Sphero Clubs and are bringing relevant learning experiences to their schools for kids! Through the power of connectedness (Twitter and Voxer), they’ve been pushed and encouraged by other leaders from around the country who they’ve never met to try something new.

Many times all you need is someone else to say -

“Yes you can” - “I believe in you” - “Don’t over think it, put the kids in charge” - “You need to get connected, you’ll thank us and so will your school community!”

Don’t be Ed Rooney and slam the door - be awesome for kids and teachers, open doors for them, encourage them, get connected to be better for them - You. Can. Do. It.

Photo from PopSugar 

It’s our responsibility as educators to reach all of our students. In special education there’s something called ‘child find’ where it’s our responsibility to find students who we believe have a learning disability of some type and provide them with services. We should have the same responsibility to find those hidden gems among all of our students.

Providing kids with the opportunities to learn from each other, giving them exposure to social media so they can harness the power that’s in our world, allowing time during the day for kids to explore a passion while under the guidance of their teacher.

Go find a Ferris Bueller in your school, make them famous, help them to harness their talents for positive interactions!

1 comment:

  1. Good stuff. Wrote something related to this movie in the summer: