Friday found me crying at the copy machine. As I prepared prereading for my trip to San Francisco, the drear of monotonous copies and collating and stapling proved to be an overwhelming prospect for my mind, stuffed full of words like “untethered” and “ideate” and “platforms.” I wondered how this boded for my week — overcome by a copy machine. And, what does “collate” mean for copies anyway?
Sunday arrived not with a roar but a whisper, and by some miracle of heaven Pam and I both arrived at the airport early. I can giggle a little now at us — two travelers traveling together with a common goal, the mutuality of dreams. Dreams which almost prevented these two preoccupied travelers from boarding the plane, so dense were the clouds.
Strange and wonderful things happen around Pam Birtolo.
People begin to confess to her, and by default to me, her traveling companion. A pugilistic row mate sporting a bandaged hand told tales of his raucous vacation in Orlando; our flight attendant kept us rapt in his descriptions of a near-death experience (Dead Man flying); a professor who overheard our musings about Improvers and Innovators confessed her experiences in virtual learning. It’s a remarkable thing — you ask the right questions, incline your head precisely but without intention, and people share and share. I’m chalking it all up to the TAM effect.
Project TAM (Tomorrow’s Achievement Model) is a long-standing, revolutionary school model that’s been thought about and talked about and planned for at FLVS since 2002. It’s a whole new concept, a brave new platform where an individual student gets an individual education perfectly suited for them. By synchronizing students with their learning, Project TAM will boost engagement and achievement. Perhaps the most exciting part of Project TAM is the dedicated space that will provide true blended learning in a modified virtual model. This is disruptive innovation at its most disruptive and its most innovative; TAM’s time has come.
This idea — Project TAM — is large enough that it makes people fall into eccentric orbits around it. It’s compelling and disruptive and unhinges what we currently believe FLVS can do for students and teachers in Florida. It realigns priorities and really forces FLVS to take a measure of who it is now and in the future.
Many thousands of hours and work culminate in this minute, this day, and this week. Project TAM drives Pam and me and others in this moment—our orbits are fixed.
I’ll let you know how it goes.
Amanda Mann, Competitive Grant Manager at Florida Virtual School, and Pam Birtolo are in San Francisco this week attending the “Designing Breakthrough School Models Summer Institute.” Sponsored by Cee-Trust (The Cities for Education Entrepreneurship Trust), the Institute provides school planning teams with an opportunity to collaborate with other grant winners, mingle with mentors and past recipients, and further refine the FLVS Breakthrough model.