Tag Archives: lead

What’s Our Next Step in Spreading Great Practice Around #TELT?

In Ontario we know we have pockets of excellence when it comes to Technology-enabled learning and teaching.

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When I refer to “pockets of excellence”, I mean schools and classrooms where learning to do this, digging into doing this well, and supporting the understanding of how learning needs to change to meet the realities of today’s world, are front and center in their thinking and sharing.

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Progress in improving learning and instruction through the use of technology is not “by chance” in these spaces. This is where communities are working hard and inviting input into figuring it all out.

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The work of eLCs in Ontario has shifted significantly this year into a leadership role in boards to enable a better understanding of how we can use technology to enhance learning and teaching. As we worked to build capacity/capital in the eLC community, engaging them in conversations and learning with these ‘pockets of excellence” became a priority.

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Last week, many of the northern eLCs (Thunder Bay Region, Sudbury-North Bay Region, Barrie Region) went on a “field trip” to do school and classroom visits.

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ADSB eLC Tyler Hankinson listens to ASPS students reflect on TELT in their school.


Their generous hosts from Hamilton Wentworth District School Board, and Trillium Lakelands District School Board were as follows:

 

Ancaster Senior Public School, HWDSB (Principal Contact – Lisa Neale)

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SGDSB eLC Stacey Wallwin and eLO EO Margo Palmeter share learning with students from ASPS.

 

 

Innovation Centre (Holbrook School) HWDSB (Teacher contact – Zoe Branigan-Pipe) Screen Shot 2015-02-20 at 9.42.56 AM

Dr. J. Edgar Davey Elementary School, HWDB (Teacher contact – Aviva Dunsiger)

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The Virtual Learning Centre, TLDSB (Principal contact – Peter Warren)

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Special thanks to host eLCs:

Paul Hatala (HWDSB)

Jeremy Cadeau Mark (TLDSB)

 

The connections, the conversations, the learning and the sharing were incredibly rich. The eLC visitors and the host schools have been sharing their learning through their blogs. Some of these are posted below (eLCs/hosts: please contact me when you have more visible thinking to add to this list).

Host Aviva Dunsiger: Class Learning  and  Personal Reflections.

Host Lisa Neale: Principal Neale

eLC Anne Shillolo: eLC Reflections

eLC John Gibson: eLC Road Trip

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So now what?

My work today is to determine next steps.

How do we continue to spread and share our thinking about how learning needs to happen for our students in a world where the industrial model no longer meets their needs?

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How do we create the conditions in Ontario to allow teachers to be researchers into best practices for student learning?

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How do we continue to deepen the conversations and engage all educators in reflective practice?

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How do we ensure that all of our classroom (bricks and mortar, and online) educators access the richness of learning available online 24/7? 

With the structures currently in place in Ontario, what needs to happen to ensure optimum learning for students in every class?

Your input is both welcomed and appreciated.

 

Twitter is a Public Library!

Earlier today, I read a post on the importance of the language we use when we talk about education.  It  made me think about some of the listening I have done this year when I ask educators why they are not using social media for their professional learning.

At the OPC/CPCO/ADFO Symposium in November, many school leaders at my table told me that they had not really found any value in using Twitter until they heard George Couros talk about it.

In December, I was honoured to be asked to spend a few hours with the Lakehead Public Schools Inspire Program, leading a session for educators on the use of social media in the classroom.  While I loved working with teachers, I still felt I was not really hitting the mark in demonstrating the value of Twitter for professional learning.

Just before Christmas, I was asked to work with another group of educators who needed to learn more about how to use Twitter.  This time, I really thought about the language I was going to use.  I knew from my earlier experiences that I needed to demonstrate value in order to get my point across and have the educators own the learning.

I wondered if the words “Twitter” and “social media” had so many other connotations that it was turning people off the idea of using them professionally.  Language is deeply connected to attitudes and beliefs.  If social media is considered to be “unprofessional” or Twitter is known as a “waste of time”, it’s challenging to reverse that way of thinking

I happened to read a post by George Couros that compared You Tube to a library.

Screen Shot 2015-01-01 at 10.48.17 PMEducators value and understand libraries as places where you go to find information.  When you think about it, that is all Twitter really is – a place where you go to find information.

Just like in a library, we need the skills to find what we are looking for.

If we think of Twitter as just a huge stream of information being sent out from people all over the world all the time, the value comes in understanding how to search Twitter to find what you are looking for.

Since I had only a few minutes to try to demonstrate how Twitter could be of value, I focused on thinking of Twitter as a library that is available to everyone 24/7.  I demonstrated how to use Twitter without creating a personal account.  I did this to save time, but also to address many fears associated with social media and digital footprints.  We were using Twitter while remaining completely anonymous.

We used the Twitter search page, and we learned the difference between searching for any topic (such as “Thunder Bay”, and searching using a hashtag (such as #TBay).

I compared using hashtags to learning to use the card catalog in a library.  You need to learn specific skills to find the information you need, and learning what hashtags to search is a valuable way to find out what is happening.

We learned a number of different hashtags that would be helpful in their work in Ontario education, such as:

#onted

#onpoli

#fdk

#ontedleaders

#ossemooc

#cdned

Using language associated with something that is valued (“library”) instead of feared (“social media”), and focusing on using Twitter as an open resource (rather than moving directly to connected, participatory learning) allowed me to quickly demonstrate that social media had value to educators.

While I am committed to the importance of connected learning and sharing, we do have to meet learners where they are right now.  The strategy of comparing Twitter to something that was already valued and understood (a library) helped several educators see that social media can indeed be a valuable resource for professional learning.

 

 

 

The Answers Can’t Be Found In The Back of the Book

2014 is coming to a close, and as I read the many excellent reflective educator “end of the year” blogs, so many are asking how to move forward in 2015.

There is no simple answer to that question.

What will it take to transform our schools into the centres of learning our children need?

What can we do to #CTW (Change the World) in 2015? So many educators are already giving so much to their work.

Fullan and Hargreaves (2012: Professional Capital, p.3) warn about the dangers of individual educators in unsupportive environments.

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How do we create the conditions that allow our best thinkers, our teacher leaders, to thrive?

In “Great to Excellent: Launching the Next Stage of Ontario’s Education Agenda” (2013), Michael Fullan outlines the importance of “leading from the middle”. Screen Shot 2014-12-31 at 3.47.59 PM   Are we building the capacity of our best education thinkers to lead from the middle?  Is leading from the middle even possible in our current system?

No longer is it necessary for educators to progress through a series of AQ courses or PQP qualifications to learn and think deeply about practice.  Rich learning and conversations are available 24/7 on social media like twitter.  Leaders with and without titles are learning and sharing with others around the world.

But are their own colleagues open to their new thinking?

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Shared under a Creative Commons Attribution License by Steven Depolo

What happens when school, board and provincial policies are challenged by educators who think differently? Is anyone listening? More importantly, is anyone providing encouragement to continue?

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Shared under a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike license by Frank Jakobi.

It takes enormous courage to question those who make decisions about public education. Are we embracing those who ask the questions?

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For @Dunlop_Sue, my “one word” for 2015 has to be COURAGE. We all need to have the courage to put student learning at the very centre of every decision we make, even if it means challenging the status quo.

Be courageous in 2015. Put student learning first.

Screen Shot 2014-12-31 at 4.36.58 PMWhat is your “one word” for 2015? Tweet it under the hashtag #oneword or if you are from Ontario, tweet it as #onewordONT right now. Let’s see what matters in education this year both on the world and #Ontario fronts.

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Why Do [Our Students] Need Connected Leaders?

This month, most of my writing time has been spent on a daily blog for OSSEMOOC, the project I co-lead with Mark Carbone in our current roles with OSAPAC in Ontario.

We say that “connected learners need connected leaders”.

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We work every single day trying to convince education leaders in Ontario that they need to become proficient in digital spaces and they need to become connected learners.

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Image shared under a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike License by Justice Beitzel.

 

Why do we say this?  Why are we so passionate about this work?

Why do we need educators to be connected leaders?

1.  Innovation isn’t cultivated through isolation.  Participating in open networks gives ideas opportunities to spread.  “Crowd Accelerated Innovation” is a concept explained by Chris Anderson in this TED Talk.  If we want to build innovative schools and systems in education, our leaders must be connected to the best ideas.

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2. Digital citizenship is not something to be taught in isolation as a “subject”.  Digital citizenship is a way of being, to be integrated into all that we do (@TanyaAvrith).

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Digital citizenship is part of who we are, and education leaders need an established positive digital footprint to fully understand this, and to embrace the digital world our students exist in.

 

3. Screen Shot 2014-11-25 at 7.55.10 PMIf you don’t understand the digital environment, you are becoming illiterate.  Doug Belshaw explains the essential elements of digital literacies in his TEDxTalk.

 

4.  This quote from Dr. John Malloy, currently the Director of Education for HWDSB, reminds us of the critical importance of choosing leaders with the capacity to make great decisions about student learning in both physical and digital spaces:

Using technology is no longer an option for us.  We must support our students to succeed in our physical and digital world.  

Students who do not have this opportunity to learn in the digital world will be disadvantaged, something that we cannot accept.”

Shared under a Creative Commons Attribution - Share-Alike license by Eduardo Zarate.
Shared under a Creative Commons Attribution – Share-Alike license by Eduardo Zarate.

 

 

5. “Isolation is inconsistent with professional practice“.

Catherine Montreuil, Director of Education, BGCDSB, August 2014

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We can’t just “close the door and teach” any more.  The smartest
person in the room is the room, unless someone in the room is a connected leader, and then it’s the world.  We need leaders who bring the world to their schools and districts.

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6. Connected learning must be modelled at all levels.  Today, it’s no longer about content.  It’s about networks.  Leaders need to model networked learning for teachers and students.  Connected leaders demonstrate that networking is a priority. We need to show our students what our learning looks like.  We need to demonstrate to teachers how we learn.  We need to share our thinking, leave it open to conversations, and let it be questioned.

7. As leaders, our professional portfolios should be ePortfolios, online where we can model this practice for others, and demonstrating how our work aligns with the Leadership Framework.  George Couros has written about this extensively.

8. We have a moral imperative to share.  Sometimes, leaders are very fortunate to be able to travel to a learning event such as a conference.  All that learning needs to be shared!

Screen Shot 2014-11-25 at 10.15.44 PMLive-tweeting at the event is a great start, but why shouldn’t everyone could benefit from your learning?  When you share the learning on your blog, it becomes searchable to everyone.  Educators from around the world now have free access to that learning.

If nobody shares, nobody learns!  Put Open and Access at the centre of your learning.

9.  As a connected leader, you bring a world of learning to your practice.

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If leaders aren’t learning online, how can they make good decisions around what technology to purchase with public funds, and what learning is required so the teachers can make effective use of technology for deep learning in their classrooms?

From the blog "Principally Speaking".  Click on the image for the link.
From the blog “Principally Speaking”. Click on the image for the link.

Leaders must be participating in “deep learning” so they can understand what that learning looks like, and they can make valid, essential decisions about how to spend funds and time that are critical to moving learning forward.

If you are not a connected leader, there is no better time to start!  OSSEMOOC shows you how in 10 minutes a day.

Today is a perfect day to start connecting!

Resources:

A Wake Up Call for School Leaders: Eric Sheninger

Digital Literacies (Connected Principals)

Innovation and Intellectual Collisions – Bill Ferriter

5 Reasons why Your Portfolio Should be a Blog – George Couros

A Rich Seam - Michael Fullan

The Power of Professional Capital - Andy Hargreaves and Michael Fullan

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

 

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