Tag Archives: lead

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.

Featured Image -- 1724

Day 18: What Are We Trying To Do Here, Anyway?

fryed:

Here is the writing that I published on the “30 Days of Learning” Project on the #OSSEMOOC website (ossemooc.wordpress.com).

Originally posted on Ontario School and System Leaders Edtech MOOC:

Written and shared by Donna Miller Fry

If you are like me, you sometimes hook on to ideas and run with them.

The excitement, the possibilities, it all pulls you in and you just go with it.

But those around you may not be entirely sure of what it is that you are trying to do.  Being able to clearly communicate, at a level where everyone understands your thinking, is an important component to effecting change.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to present the #OSSEMOOC concept to a group of interested people.  Luckily, before my presentation, a colleague worked with me to help me distill the concept down to its key components, in a language that was meaningful to educators at all levels.

As we begin to work on our next projects in response to user requests and feedback, I think it is a good time to take a step…

View original 563 more words

What Am I Doing Here?

It’s the first morning of #OTRK12. 

There are over 80 workshops for educators to attend over the next 2 days, and some of those presenters are waking up this morning and asking themselves, “What am I doing here?”.

Screen Shot 2014-04-01 at 7.18.35 AM

Presenting can be scary.  It can be intimidating.  We, as educators, can be evaluative. We all want to do well.  It’s our culture.

 

What are you doing here?

You are modelling best practice.  You are sharing your learning.

You are enabling others to learn.

You are connecting learners.  You are enriching lives. You are demonstrating courage.

You are walking the talk. You are Leading Learning.

 

What are the rest of us doing here?

We are here creating a culture of learning – a place where it is safe to share, where sharing is valued, and where the people with the courage to share are encouraged and applauded for putting themselves in that vulnerable position for our benefit.

Screen Shot 2014-04-01 at 7.22.51 AM

We are nurturing all learners.

Congratulations, and thank you, to every single educator who has stepped forward today and tomorrow to share learning with the rest of us.

Image credits:

Fear -the Italian voice via Compfight cc

Courage – DimitraTzanos via Compfight cc

 

Featured Image -- 1694

Focus on Beginners: What do you Need to Start Connecting?

Originally posted on Ontario School and System Leaders Edtech MOOC:

As we have travelled throughout the province this week, we have heard loud and clear that we need an easier entry point for our education leaders to start the connecting process.

Last Tuesday, connected leaders met to discuss how they became connected leaders – the catalyst that got them started.  Here are some of the things we learned.  Which of these do you need?  Which of these can you bring to a leader you know to help them connect?

1. TIME!  When can we possibly find the time to connect?

http://www.flickr.com/photos/76818399@N00/4536146692/

Educators are busy.  Nobody disputes that!  But could connecting actually make your life easier?  YES IT CAN!  You can pose a question on Twitter 24/7 and get an answer in minutes.  We have heard many stories with this theme.

Learn to make time.  Start with 15 minutes each day.  Some of us do “Tea and Twitter”,  some of us start…

View original 441 more words

What is the Purpose of School? Nova Scotia Considers Its Future

It’s perplexing to me that as Canadians we can unite at ungodly early morning hours to cheer on our hockey team as a country, yet when it comes to education we live on seemingly unconnected islands.

In my province, Ontario, we have just completed a “visioning” exercise, looking at how to move our public education system from “great to excellent“.  In the meantime, in what feels like a different country (because we rarely connect and share what we know), the province of Nova Scotia is about to embark on an education review.

Last week, the Province of Nova Scotia launched its urgent call for change.

Screen Shot 2014-02-24 at 4.13.33 AM
http://noworneverns.ca/
Screen Shot 2014-02-24 at 4.29.07 AM
http://noworneverns.ca/

The report states that a crisis exists that threatens the standard of living of Nova Scotians.  It outlines 19 goals and 12 long-term strategies that are needed to turn the economy around and stop the current decline.

Robert Sutton, in his recent publication “Scaling Up Excellence” demonstrates that using logical arguments to spread the need for change are often not effective, and we need an emotional attachment to an idea to really move change forward.  The Ivany Report, with the focus on Urgency and Mobilizing Strengths, has created this “hot cause” to “stoke the engine”.

However, critics say that the report, while strong on ideas, lacks concrete policy.

As an educator, I read the report looking for how the education system would be redesigned to meet the goals of “One Nova Scotia: Shaping our Economy Together”.  With a quarter of the population under the age of 19, it would seem that transforming an economy would certainly require a transformation in how young people were educated.  But there is very little in the report to suggest how this might occur.

Screen Shot 2014-02-24 at 4.46.00 AM

A small section entitled “Excellence in Education and Training” (combining those terms is concerning) suggests that a “rigorous curriculum review” and “setting the bar high” will hold Nova Scotians accountable for reaching their goals.

There is essentially no conversation on how a system of schooling, created with an industrial mindset, could now produce young adults who thought like entrepreneurs rather than obedient assembly line employees.

So what, then, should be the purpose of Nova Scotia’s upcoming comprehensive review of the education system?

In Ontario, we have learned that public support of public education is critical.  In our three priorities, raising the bar, lowering the gap and securing accountability, we have focused on how, as a province, we can believe in what we are doing as being the best for our students.

At the same time, research must be central to learning.  So what, then, is the role of public consultation?

Perhaps the real question Nova Scotians need to answer is “What is School for?” How can we possibly determine what is working, and what needs improvement, if we aren’t in agreement on why we have schools in the first place?

Once we know what schools are there to accomplish, there is a world of research available to help move those goals forward.  High yield strategies like assessment for learning, and student-work-study teacher initiatives are well-documented.

The citizens of Nova Scotia,  faced with the findings of the Ivany Report,  now need to deeply consider their expectations, their beliefs, and their understanding of the purpose of the school buildings in their communities, and the reasons for the hours that young people spend there every day.

What kind of person emerges from the years in the school system, and what kind of province results from that education system?

As Canadians, what do we see as the purpose of school?

Further reading:

The Future of Schooling: Are Students Being Prepared to “Dance with Robots”?

http://educhatter.wordpress.com/2014/02/21/the-future-of-schooling-are-students-being-prepared-to-dance-with-robots/

Stop Stealing Dreams – Seth Godin

http://www.sethgodin.com/sg/docs/stopstealingdreamsscreen.pdf

What should a school be?

http://www.salon.com/2013/10/13/what_we_talk_about_when_we_talk_about_public_education_partner/

My Definition of Good Pedagogy Includes Technology

Screen Shot 2014-01-15 at 10.14.38 PM

Last night during the Learning 2030 rebroadcast, one of the tweets that came across my screen was a statement that said, “Technology does not replace good pedagogy”.

I see this quote quite frequently in my work, and I worry about it a bit.

I worry because in the same way that “good” standardized test scores can be used to keep technology out of classrooms, I think that this quote can be used by educators to justify avoiding change.

Let me explain…

It might surprise people to realize that there are classrooms, and in fact entire schools, where technology is not being used in learning.

classroom

Night Owl City via Compfight cc

How to help those teachers, schools and school boards embrace technology-enhanced learning is the topic of much discussion and much interest.

I have said many times, that I don’t believe in 2014, that our kids can possibly go to school and not have access to technology.  I won’t go into the arguments why right here – that is another blog post – but technology needs to be there.

When a teacher who is not using technology in his or her class sees this quote, they can use it to justify what they are doing.

“Oh yes, I am a great teacher, so I don’t need technology in my classroom.”

It’s the same as seeing entire schools misuse standardized  test scores to justify avoiding change.  “We have great test scores so we are doing everything right, we don’t need to change.”

Quotes like this are dangerous.

I would ask the question, “In 2014, can good pedagogy exist without technology?”

Screen Shot 2014-01-15 at 10.10.25 PM

I would also ask the question, “Does technology replace poor pedagogy?”

I think we need to be very careful about our choice of words.

When we look at the SAMR model, we see that technology-enhanced learning can be so much more enriching.

If we are not allowing our learners to connect and build learning networks, what exactly is our excuse?

2013 01 06 ice gems on superior

The Work-Life-Blogging Balance Challenge

Screen shot 2013-11-16 at 10.33.51 AM

Jenni’s question this week is one that needs more that 140 characters to answer.

I think we have to begin with why we even bother to blog.  It begins with a fundamental belief that knowledge is to be shared and that learning comes from conversations.  It isn’t enough to just learn any more.  We need to learn, connect, reflect and share.  We expect our students to do this every day.  We need to model that for them.

We need to make our learning visible.

When we recognize blogging and sharing our learning as a priority, it becomes easier to do it.

Blogging
Sculpture by Ai Weiwei, Toronto City Hall, October 2013

Before blogging becomes a habit, though, professional learning needs to be a habit.  This was stated nicely in #satchat today.

Twitter PD

So how can professional learning become part of your life? Here are a few simple suggestions:

1) Listen to podcasts, all the time.  I hate mundane tasks like vacuuming and raking, but plugged into a great podcast makes the chore simply listening and learning time.  Suggestions?   Get ASCD’s Whole Child Podcast on your iPhone, along with CBC Ideas, HBR Ideacast (great stuff for school and system leaders), Moving at the Speed of Creativity with Wes Fryer (once listened to these every commute – learned a ton from Wes), CBC Spark (I’m a bit partial to Episode 195!).  Those are my favourites, but I could go on forever here with other suggestions.

2) Read your notes!  How often do you go to PD sessions and take notes.  Do you ever read them again?  You should!  As you learn and grow, some parts of previous learning sessions begin to make more sense.

3) Read great books.  Don’t know where to start?  Ask your PLN on Twitter.  Some recent favourites? Intentional Interruption by Stephen Katz and Lisa Ain Dack, Professional Capital by Andy Hargreaves and Michael Fullan.  I am certain your PLN can suggest many, many more.

4) Read other bloggers. Follow blogs that are being written by other great thinkers and educators.  Ontario teachers can use this list to start: http://www.scoop.it/t/ontario-edublogs.

Others I like to read include Alfie KohnSeth Godin, Grant Wiggins, Diane Ravitch, David Warlick.

If you don’t have time to read a blog, you can always “listen” to one.  Check out how Darren Kuropatwa uses his commuting time to work to post to his blog – “while walking“.Screen shot 2013-11-16 at 9.44.13 PM

5. Enrol in a MOOC!  There are so many MOOCs for learning out there.  Try Coursera if you can’t find what you want elsewhere.

6. Connect Online.  Enable Feedly, use social bookmarking, connect on Twitter.  Maximize sharing and connecting to learn from other educators.  There are endless ways to do this.

 

But what to share?

Sometimes just sharing your learning is so worthwhile.  I often do this after a particularly valuable session at a conference (Catherine Montreuil, John Malloy).

Sometimes things happen in your day that inspire a post about a topic you are learning about or that you want to explore further.

For example, this past week, I was explaining my new role in promoting digital learning throughout Ontario to my optometrist when he started into a rant on how we had better get Facebook out of schools.  It reminded me of how much work we have to do to teach the public about the importance of digital learning – a blog post for another day.

Doug Peterson (@dougpete  <– follow him) explains very nicely how he comes up with his blog topics here.

 

How can you organize your learning, your experiences, your blog ideas, your blog post catalysts?  There are many tools available.

Recently, I have started using a free app called Notability.

notability

It allows me to use handwriting or voice to quickly record my thinking.  blog layout in notability

I can organize it by topic.

notability organizes written notes

When I synch it with my other devices, the documents download to my laptop in pdf format.

Adobe notes from notability

I also use my phone to record ideas while walking or hiking.  Then, as I start to write the blog, I often switch to Evernote, which is synched across all of my devices and where I store and tag much of my online learning.

evernote organization

evernote take a note

And sometimes I even use good old-fashioned paper when I am really trying to sort things out.

John Malloy visual

Most educators I know are trying to do too much with too little time.  Having time to exercise, get outside, relax and heal has to be a priority.  Sometimes, this is the best time to reflect and consolidate learning, and as you make connections, why not share those ideas with your colleagues when you get back?  We are all learning together.

Start the conversation.

Further Reading:

Royan Lee: Writing in Snippets ~ How I Blog