I don’t think I could have put it any better… 14 Things That Are Obsolete in 21st century Schools!
REPOST – What “School Reformers” — And All Of Us — Can Learn From Pope Francis About Creating Change
I actually first saw this article in the Washington Post blog by Valerie Strauss (unfortunately, the Post doesn’t have a WordPress share button but Larry Ferlazzo’s blog does!). As I browsed Ferlazzo’s blog I came across another post that resonated with me, “Important Advice For Anyone Who Wants To Be Effective At Making Change“…
The fact is, leaders who listen make a huge impact. Along with that, humility goes a long way. Pope Francis has certainly been a good model of those characteristics (“Who am I to judge?“). Being a good listener and a humble person are signs that you are truly open to other perspectives. However, beyond that a leader must have the acumen and powers of observation to be able to know who is who, what is what and be able to read the climate of the place they are in to best decide which leadership tools will be most effective as they create change. Some techniques are effective in many places but will not work all the time for all situations.
Building relationships and making connections is often understimated. Again, this seems to be something Pope Francis understands and does well. After all, what could help build relationships better than genuine caring, compassion and the passionate belief that each of us can make a difference? Business, social science and conventional wisdom have converged (“The Network Secrets of Great Change Agents”)… Building that interpersonal network, establishing strong relationships, is important anywhere!
Here’s what I love about the internet (one thing, anyway)… it’s amazing how, if you just browse, your thoughts really can lead to anywhere through a series of mouse-clicks.
Case in point – I was reading “5 Habits of Innovative Educators” on the Huffington Post site (which I, of course, clicked my way to) and I thought, these are good ideas to share… When I got to “4. They are passionately curious.” It made me think about an article title I had seen in my mail inbox but hadn’t read yet, “Why Recognizing Emotions Is a School Leadership Necessity“. Click. Click. That article ended with a references to a school’s emotional tone and school climate… hmmm, I just received ASCD’s Educational Leadership magazine for February centered on “Building School Morale“. Instead of trying to find the hard-copy of the magazine I just… Click… Went to ASCD’s website and clicked on the Educational Leadership tab to remind me about the various articles.
Common strands: Leadership, Motivation and Emotional Intelligence.
School leaders owe it to themselves and those they are surrounded by to develop habits that support innovation. In doing so they will inevitably engage on an emotional level with like-minded learners because they will be showing they are passionately curious, seeking feedback to improve and believe in their students. It is that emotional engagement and connection with others that helps keep motivation high. School climate is a direct responsibility of leaders. The interesting thing is, from my experience, once a leader acknowledges their role and contributes positively to the school climate, those around the leader also take responsibility for a positive school climate. In a high morale, positive school climate, educators and learners feel safe taking risks, being creative and making more connections… voilà! Celebrate the cycle of innovation!
If you aren’t’ building your technological proficiency AND staying mostly up-to-date with the latest tech trends – especially educational technology, you’re already too far behind. The future is not flipped classrooms, integrating Web 2.0 applications with student learning goals, BYOD and getting the most out of Open Courseware for your students and you – it is the present as in RIGHT NOW! The future is practically impossible to anticipate but if you’re not actively promoting technology integration and digital citizenship then you’re putting our students at a disadvantage in being prepared for that future.
The beauty of tech integration is that it does NOT take anything away from building sound critical thinking/reasoning skills and writing skills (many of us would argue that it actually CAN enhance those skills, tap into student interests better and facilitate collaboration… necessary real-world skills).
I look forward to reading, “Digital Leadership - Changing Paradigms for Changing Times” by Eric Sheninger, once it comes out. I have no doubt he does a great job of laying it out very clearly and I hope he also provides something of a ‘blueprint’ for those who haven’t gotten ‘in gear’ yet.
Embrace it or get left behind!
“Should principals stop visiting classrooms?” was the article I was waiting for!
I have long advocated that clear, meaningful feedback is not only important for teachers to give to students but also for principals to give to teachers. Yet, there really hasn’t been a lot of research that directly supports this stance and I hear from other administrators that classroom observations just aren’t worth the time and effort and really make no noticeable impact. Now! Research to support the idea that feedback for teachers has an impact on student learning!
Students made positive gains on standardized tests relative to the amount of time principals spent coaching teachers (especially in math) and relative to the time that principals spent evaluating teachers and curriculum. Instructional leadership, defined!
This is not to say that any or all classroom observations/walk-throughs have a meaningful impact – only the ones that are accompanied by meaningful feedback. Often, if the school culture has not embraced reflection, collaboration and feedback – walk-throughs and observations are seen as intrusive and have a negative impact.
So! Fellow ‘instructional leaders’, get on board! Build that collaborative, learning centered culture and encourage meaningful feedback (I also think receiving it, as a leader, is essential for improvement).
Also, for anyone in education – I highly recommend signing up for ASCD’s Smart Brief. It really has ‘pearls of wisdom’ in many of the editions.
These are what we parents try to protect our children from… right?
This is something I have really been struggling with, lately (with twin teenagers!). We all want to see our children develop into confident, capable, responsible individuals that exercise good judgment. Yet, I feel that every time I step in to ‘help’ my children avoid a potentially painful consequence I’m also preventing them from learning valuable lessons. It really is a balancing act!
A recent Huffington Post Blog post by Christine Gross-Loh really hit home!
- Risky play helps kids develop a sound sense of being able to judge what they can/cannot do.
- Waiting to eat until you’re truly hungry (and eating together as a family) is healthier (as opposed to continuous grazing).
- Frustration and delayed-gratification help kids develop patience and self-control.
- Learning OUTSIDE of the classroom may be more important than classroom learning. Play, music, art and life skills are essential!
- Hurrying independence by encouraging independent sleep does not an independent child make!
- Making children very aware that their ‘family responsibility’ or obligation is to work hard at school actually helps their achievement and motivation.
I highly recommend reading Gross-Loh’s blog post AND remembering to keep the idea of moderation in mind.
Fear, Anxiety, Risky-play, Frustration, Hunger, and Delayed Gratification are good for our kids! Moderation is the key.