Tag Archives: lead

Screen Shot 2014-09-05 at 8.47.02 AM

We Have a Dream

“I have a dream.”

Millions were inspired by those words.

Now if Martin Luther King had said, “I have a strategic plan” or “I have a set of performance indicators”, do you think the effect would have been the same?

It is a dream, or a vision – a shared vision, that motivates groups of people to rise above expectations.

Andy Hargreaves pointed this out last spring  (May 1, 2014) at the Ontario Leadership Congress in Toronto (also in his TEDx Talk).

In his recent book, Uplifting Leadership, Hargreaves reflects on seven years of global research to list four characteristics of organizations that have risen to the top with seemingly very few resources.

The number one characteristic is the relentless pursuit of a shared dream or vision.

Screen Shot 2014-09-05 at 8.43.23 AM
Dreamcatcher image shared under a Creative Commons Attribution License by Chie.

 

Mary Jean Gallagher tells us that schools must be places where children can realize their “best possible, most richly-imagined future” (Jan. 17, 2014, Toronto)

As we begin this new school year, I wonder…

Do we share those dreams with our students? Are we relentlessly pursuing them together?

 

Featured image shared under a CC attribution license by katerha

Thoughts: Labour Day 2014

I wanted to tell a funny story on this Labour Day.

I will share this entertaining piece instead: Teachers Don’t Sleep on Labour Day by  @albertfong

I have plenty of my own crazy tales, of course, having spent nearly 30 years of Labour Days ignoring my family in spite of it being my daughter’s birthday, our wedding anniversary, a stressful time for my kids heading back to school…

Even though today is the first Labour Day in 25 years where nobody in our household is heading off to school, I don’t feel like being funny.  I have a very heavy heart as I think of the teachers in British Columbia and the conflict they are embroiled in.

I think of the passionate educators that do so much for students in B.C. – educators like Karen Lirenman,  David Truss, and Bryan Jackson.   How do I know what they are doing?  Because they share.

They openly invite everyone to see how they think, what they struggle with, how they learn, and what they are working on.  They do this through blogging, through Twitter (and other social media), and through face-to-face presentations throughout the year.

I know they love what they do, because they openly demonstrate this all year long.

As we once again see teachers as a political target, it is important to ask ourselves why this profession is so often attacked by politicians. Take a moment to read this very thought-provoking essay on the Future of Schooling in Canada by Stephen Murgatroyd.

Here is a short excerpt:

“Teachers need to “take back” their schools, supported by mindful school leaders, if they are not to become the new laboratories for corporate greed….

…The final challenge relates to the conditions of practice which teachers and school leaders face. There is a growing distortion around the importance of class size and composition – classes of 30-35 with up to six students with special needs are seen as “manageable” (they are not) with a single teacher and little if any access to other supports. Custodial services are seen as being only required before and after school – not during the school day, leaving teachers to clean up after sick children or some accident in the chemistry lab. We are neglecting the basic conditions in the name of economy. Attempts to challenge the creeping Fordism which such class sizes force on school systems are seen as “teacher whining”, yet parents and citizens should be appalled at some of the conditions under which we are asking teachers to produce the next generation of imagineers, artists, scientists, engineers and trades persons.”

 

If we really believe that our children are our greatest resource, and if we really believe that teaching is the most important profession for our future, then we need to tell our stories to the world.

“Teaching in isolation is no longer consistent with professionalism.”(Catherine Montreuil, August 2014).

This year, don’t just do great things for kids.

Tell your story.

Tell it loudly, and openly, and show the world what you do every day.

Show the world that every single day, teachers are making a positive difference in the lives of our children.

Screen Shot 2014-09-01 at 5.26.10 PM

 

 

 

Photo credit: venspired via Compfight cc

Who Are You Leaving Out?

 

Why would we want to exclude other educators from our professional learning network?

Stephen Katz, in his book Intentional Interruptions, discusses the problem of confirmation bias when it comes to professional learning.  It is our tendency to “only look for things that confirm rather than challenge our beliefs and practices“.

We need to make sure that we are not looking for our professional learning in echo chambers.  We need to find the people who will challenge our thinking.

When we hear, “Let’s build an online community so we can share our learning”, it sounds like a fantastic idea.  It is a fantastic idea.

But when designing how that community will work, ask who you want to exclude, because as soon as you put your sharing behind a password protected site, you are excluding other thinkers who might contribute to your conversation and challenge your thinking – exactly what professional learning needs to include.

It is easy to share your learning and thinking openly.

Consider, for example, the Inquiry-Based Learning Project in Ontario, and their conversations on Twitter under the #ontsshg hashtag.

Screen Shot 2014-08-31 at 12.31.23 PM

 

They have discussions, vote on topics, document their learning on a blog, and keep it in the open for anyone else to join in the conversation, make comments, search, read, and remix.

Screen Shot 2014-08-31 at 12.30.28 PM

While the conversations focus on Ontario topics, anyone is welcome to join, to share, to learn.

Similarly, Lakehead Public Schools chose to share their collaborative inquiry work with the world on an open blog rather than excluding readers who might learn from their work.

Screen Shot 2014-08-31 at 12.35.20 PM

Before choosing to participate in an online community that excludes learners, think about what you are able to share openly with other educators.

There is a need for protected spaces to share private information about student learning, but if your purpose is to share your own professional learning and to grow as an educator, why would you exclude others from the conversation?

Why not make your thinking and learning visible to all, and model that learning for our students?

 

Screen Shot 2014-08-31 at 12.22.21 PM

Related: Just Make It Public! by Mark W. Carbone:  http://blog.markwcarbone.ca/2014/08/05/just-make-it-public/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Loneliness of the First Follower

It’s harder to follow than it is to lead.

Timber and Bailey, June 2014
Image by Kira Fry, used with permission.

 

Leaders have passion for what they do.  They have practiced sticking out their necks, taking risks, trying new things, and failing.

For leaders, being the lone dancer in the crowd is their norm.

Dancing to the music is the right thing to do, even if it is all alone.

But first followers…  Life is very different for them.

Followers are straddling two worlds.  While one foot is firmly planted in their peer group, their team, their home position, they have suddenly taken a step out of their comfort zone.

Perhaps it is because they have heard music they can dance to for the first time.  Perhaps the song has finally come along that they have waited all night for.  Or perhaps they have been dancing with the door closed for a long time.

But first followers have the most to lose.

The leader might sit down again, leaving the follower all alone, dancing to a different tune than everyone else on the hill.

The leader might keep right on dancing to a different tune, ignoring the new partner.

Those sitting on the hill might tell the first follower that he is no longer welcome to sit with them.  He should go off and just keep dancing with his new partner.

Those sitting on the hill might grab the first follower’s legs and try to pull him back down.  They are afraid to try to keep up, and he is making them look slow.

But it is the first follower that other followers emulate.

First followers are critical to the movement.

First followers are catalysts for change.

Screen Shot 2014-08-21 at 6.54.38 AM
Photo Credit: h.koppdelaney via Compfight cc

As a school or system leader, how will you nurture your first followers this school year?

_______________________________________________________________________________

(Shared here by Stacey Wallwin @wallwins http://swallwin.wordpress.com/2014/05/21/are-you-nuts-maybe-just-a-little/)

“It takes guts to be a first follower.  You stand out…”

“Being a first follower is an unappreciated form of leadership.”

 

What Does a “Lead Learner” Actually Do?

A few weeks back, I was asked to work with some educators who were at the senior management level in their board.  They told me that they wanted everyone in the organization to model the kind of learning they wanted to see at the classroom level.

We were specifically working on ways to make thinking and learning visible to a wide audience, inviting feedback and conversation.

Certainly we want all of our learners to engage with a broad audience and learn with others outside of their immediate classroom.  But if we want to model the kind of learning we expect to see in classrooms, we need a clear picture of what that should look like.

In Ontario, we have several documents to guide our thinking about what classrooms should look like.  I have outlined some of those documents below.

_______________________________________________________________________________

Achieving Excellence: A Renewed Vision for Education in Ontario:

http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/about/excellent.html

Specifically:  To achieve success, Ontario will:

• Invest in the technology, design and infrastructure required for the classrooms of the future to serve the needs of all communities.

• Invest in innovative teaching practices and instructional methods enabled by technology to more precisely engage and address the learning needs of all students.

• Give students more flexibility and ownership in their learning, allowing them, for example, to determine whether they want to spend more time on elearrning or on learning outside of the classroom

• Provide new online learning and professional development opportunities for both teachers and students, particularly those in rural and remote communities, including opportunities for virtual cooperative education placements.

 

A Student’s View of the Future: Learning in Ontario

http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/students/speakup/preMSAC.html

Screen Shot 2014-07-16 at 7.49.42 AM

http://www.videodelivery.gov.on.ca/player/download.php?file=http://www.media.gov.on.ca/a0efff64e63ac895/en/pages/text.html

 

“I’m an Ontario student, and my world is constantly changing.

I live in a world where technology is everywhere.

I can connect with a friend in another part of the globe, just as easily as I can with a friend down the street.

When I graduate high school, I will enter a world that is more competitive and connected than ever before.

My education will prepare me for that world.

My school will be a place where my friends and I can be successful, regardless of where we come from.

A place where we are inspired to learn by engaging teachers using new technology.

Our diversity will not be a barrier, but rather a reason for our success.

We will develop the strength of character to overcome obstacles and be resilient, whatever comes our way.

We will feel safe and welcome, and know that our well-being is supported inside and outside of school.

We will be the innovators, community builders, creators, skilled workers, entrepreneurs and leaders of tomorrow.

As an Ontario student, I will achieve excellence.”

_______________________________________________________________________________

To achieve this in our classrooms, what practices need to be modelled by educators?

A good starting point is the ISTE Standards for students, teachers, coaches (professional learning facilitators) and administrators.

This is a sample of the first two standards for school and system leaders:

Screen Shot 2014-07-16 at 8.08.01 AMScreen Shot 2014-07-16 at 8.08.11 AMScreen Shot 2014-07-16 at 8.08.20 AM

As leaders, what are we modelling?

As leaders, what practices do we need to change to ensure we are modelling the kind of learning we want for our students?  What supports do we need to get there?

Screen Shot 2014-07-15 at 10.48.45 AM

 

Further: In Ontario, as we consider the ways we ask our students to engage in pedagogical documentation, how are we modelling this practice for our students?  How do we document our own professional learning?

You can find some great thinking on this topic on the Langwitches Blog here:  http://langwitches.org/blog/2014/07/01/documenting-for-learning/

 

And What About High School?

That  “stop smoking” commercial, the one where the woman is at an almost empty high school, talking about how this is where she started smoking, and this is where she is going to quit, shakes me up.

Why in the world do kids start a life-threatening habit in a place of learning? Shouldn’t we expect high schools to be places that promote healthy living and embrace the wonder of learning?

This tweet from Grant Wiggins (@grantwiggins) made me pause and take a look this week.

Screen Shot 2014-05-30 at 11.53.26 PM

As it turns out, Grant Wiggins is working on a series called Fixing the High School (by listening to students). Some of the student responses can be found here. The consistency of the responses is sobering.
But are we listening?

Earlier this month, Ontario Secondary School Principal David Jaremy (@davidjaremy) posted a thoughtful piece on dealing with late students, the endless problem normally tackled by vice principals (where there is a vp), which is never solved through a code of behaviour and a series of discipline measures, even though that is still the “solution” of choice in most high schools.

Screen Shot 2014-05-31 at 8.09.25 AM

So, then, how do we effect change and make our high schools places where our youth can thrive?

Stephen Hurley (@Stephen_Hurley) challenges us to ask not only what needs to be changed in our schools, but what needs to stay.

What do we currently value in our system?

Screen Shot 2014-05-31 at 8.38.51 AM

Earlier this week, a conversation on Twitter swirled around the ideas of what school is for, and what we aspire to in our school system.

Screen Shot 2014-05-28 at 7.40.07 AM

Let’s do our best to continue this conversation.