Launching #WHOISaps: Will you respond to the call?

There is no easy way to get to know a school district as diverse and multitudinous as Aurora Public Schools, but I know that I must make an attempt anyway. I must attempt to understand the students. I must attempt to understand who they are and the assets they bring to school every day. I must attempt to understand their teachers and leaders too, looking for ways in which I might be able to serve them better. I must do this because I am first and foremost, a learner.

I know that there is no way for me to learn without asking questions and understanding context. I know that insight does not come from ignorance or assumption. It comes from a place where I have heard the stories of others and allowed them to reverberate through me. For me, learning who Aurora Public Schools is and who it wants to be will not help me to do my job better, it is the only way to do my job.

So, that is why I am launching #WHOISaps.

It is a project in which I will ask as many students, teachers, and leaders the most important questions I know. These questions will continue to expand in order to include APS’ essential questions too. In this, I know that my questions are merely starting points for others to ask and answer. They are the threads with which I will attempt to weave the story of APS in the 2016-17 school year, to tell the full WHOIS from all corners of the district.

And what is a “WHOIS”, you may ask?

WHOIS is a protocol used by computers to perform a call and response ritual. It is sent from someone who wishes to know more about an organization or domain, and the response that is given is made public only through the asking. So, it is my intention to send out this call to everyone in APS who is willing to hear it, to everyone in turn who is interested in being heard.

This is my call to you:

If you wish to respond, you may do so by:

  1. Answering one of the questions from the above slides.

  2. Asking a unique question of your own to me (which is a response to the final slide).

The methods you have for responding to this WHOIS are entirely up to you, but I would like to lay out a few of my favorites:

  1. Self-recorded Video: You may make a video of yourself answering my question and asking yours. Feel free to use Instagram, Youtube, or any other video service, so that you can then share that video using the hashtag #WHOISaps.
  2. Interview Video: I will be setting up interviews within anyone in APS who will sit down with me. During that interview, you will answer one of the embedded questions and asking one of your own. This does not have to take longer than 15 minutes, but we can stay and talk at your school, in your classroom, or in your office for a lot longer if you wish. I can also do this interview via video conference if that is easier for you. If you wish to set up a #WHOISaps session, you can simply fill out this form.
  3. Twitter response: You can respond to one of the questions within the above presentation in one tweet and then ask your own question in another tweet. So long as both of them use the hashtag #WHOISaps, this will continue the call and response conversation across our district.
  4. Blog Post: If you wish to simply write out your Answer and Question, feel free to do so. This will allow everyone to see your deep thinking and I will be able to respond to you in comments or as my own blog posts.
  5. Hypothes.is Annotation of this Blog Post: If you are game for simply annotating this blog post, please feel free to answer my question and ask a new one through this simple Chrome Extension (or just clicking the sidebar on the right).

It is my sincere hope that a great many people in APS will respond to my WHOIS. It is my hope that we start an ongoing conversation that allows each of us learn more about our own context and to learn the ways in which we might support one another and the learning of all our students. At this point I would normally ask you to let me know if you have any questions, but that is actually kind of the point of this whole project, so instead I will just ask you to hear the call.

I am sending out my WHOIS.

#WHOISaps.

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