QUCK POST: “The Hard Part”

If we can keep honoring teaching perhaps the US will finally develop a culture that values professional educators the way many other countries (with great student learning results) do…

From: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ peter-greene/the-hardest-part-teaching_b_5554448.html

From: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ peter-greene/the-hardest-part-teaching_b_5554448.html

The metaphor from this article really jumped out at me:

Teaching is like painting a huge Victorian mansion. And you don’t actually have enough paint. And when you get to some sections of the house it turns out the wood is a little rotten or not ready for the paint. And about every hour some supervisor comes around and asks you to get down off the ladder and explain why you aren’t making faster progress. And some days the weather is terrible. So it takes all your art and skill and experience to do a job where the house still ends up looking good.

Read it… it’s good. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/peter-greene/the-hardest-part-teaching_b_5554448.html

 

Global Collaboration – the new TEAM!

Global Collaboration (1)Have you ever been asked to… “choose 3 words that describe you and expound on those…“?

It’s a question we should all be prepared for. With all the diversity and individualism that exists in the world it would be easy to argue that there aren’t any ‘right answers’ to that question. Yet, there are some specific skills and attributes that we want our young learners to develop. Most especially, if you scan modern school philosophy, vision and mission statements and expected learning goals for students, you see attributes like collaborative worker, global citizen, principled individual, effective communicator, technologically proficient, etc.  Choose any 3 of those. They would contribute to the development of a globally collaborative mindset. These are not just attributes for young learners to develop, these are characteristics that we all benefit from strengthening for ourselves. With increasing connectedness across the globe, Global Collaboration is a reality. The old phrase that, “Together Everyone Achieves More (TEAM)” gets new life when put into a global context.

The ability to form personal relationships and build rapport, to adapt one’s management style without sacrificing authenticity and the ability to mediate cultural differences are critical competencies in the global realm. ~ Renita Wolfwriting about, “Global Teams – Leadership Skills And Characteristics

New technologies facilitate global collaboration (Skype, Twitter, Google Docs, WebEx, wikis, etc.) and reduce or remove barriers that once existed. However, what our students most benefit from is learning about cultural similarities and differences that impact communication and relationship-building. Helping students build global collaboration skills sets them up for success in the 21st century.

A curriculum that makes intercultural competency an asset, rather than a deficit, can powerfully motivate immigrant students who navigate cultural borders daily to engage, not just in further developing their global competency, but in all disciplines as well. Schools that find a way to tap the resources that culturally diverse communities of parents and teachers offer to the education of all students will engage these communities in positive ways, both in and out of school. Fernando M. Reimers for ASCD.

A somewhat old but still useful list of resources to help teachers ‘create global classrooms’ can be found in this ASCD article.

For leaders, it is just as important to build the same skills in order to establish and sustain a strong team. Just, make sure you check yourself every once in a while so you don’t find yourself becoming ‘the foreigner who is undermining the global team’ because you are “operating under a few common fallacies” …

From: http://www.aipmm.com/anthropology/2011/01/ the-foreigner-who-could-be-undermining-your-global-team.php

From: http://www.aipmm.com/anthropology/2011/01/ the-foreigner-who-could-be-undermining-your-global-team.php

1. It’s all the other people that are foreign, not me.

2. It’s right and proper that the others mold themselves to my culture.

2a. Okay, it’s maybe not right and proper exactly, but at least necessary, since the project originates here. It’s our project, it’s their job to conform. ~ “The Foreigner who could be Undermining your Global Team”

As long as those crucial relationships are built, together, everyone really does achieve more! There’s really nothing else like feeling the synergy that can develop from a true collaboration (global, or, otherwise)!

What will you do to make the Earth better?

So, here’s a brief plug to help out Mother Earth! Do SOMETHING to help make a difference AND commit to doing that something regularly. Here’s a list of possibilities… there’s countless more everywhere you turn!

  • Take a Global selfie… (see NASA link  >>)

  • Help your city become more sustainable (visit Green Cities Campaign for more information)
  • Make sure your light bulbs are CFLs so that you are using less electricity.
  • If your heater is electric… set it to come on just a couple degrees warmer than it’s currently set.
  • Use recycled paper.
  • Carpool.
  • Don’t let your car run/idle if you are just sitting in it, waiting for someone.
  • Insulate your home.
  • Bring your own bags to the market…

There’s a much longer list of suggestions at StopGlobalWarming. I’m sure there’s many things on that list you can commit to!

Happy Earth Day!

Changing Paradigms for Changing Times? Thank you!

From: http://www.corwin.com/books/Book240618/ reviews#tabview=title

From: http://www.corwin.com/books/Book240618/ reviews#tabview=title

“The most important aspect of digital leadership is establishing a vision and a strategic plan for increasing authentic engagement of students in the teaching and learning process”  ~ Sheninger, Jan. 2014

So… I just finished reading Eric Sheninger‘s new book - Digital Leadership: Changing Paradigms for Changing Times. I also learned a new word. Heutagogical 

Here’s my conundrum: So often I feel that there’s this huge divide between those who are ‘on-board’ with digital literacy and leadership, supporting innovative education with passion and creativity, and those educators who are still pretty much stuck in the good ole days! I’m excited and honored to be connected to so many like-minded, 21st century focused educators but I feel like we often write about and promote ideas that are basically preaching to the choir. We read each others’ posts and share them/like them… It’s the educators who aren’t yet in the choir that we somehow need to connect to. How can we best do that!?

Sheninger does a great job of providing a plan for those who aren’t yet ‘connected’ to take those steps forward to become a digital leader. I have no doubt that many like-minded educators will greatly enjoy Digital Leadership. Hopefully, by reading this book, talking about this book and recommending it to others the ideas will spread.

So… the book. It provides a solid rationale for schools to start transforming into 21st century learning organizations. Sheninger lays out a very clear plan, with specific examples, for those who are just starting out to really embrace digital leadership. As Yong Zhao puts it, in the Foreword, “A framework for leading educational transformation with technology.” I was especially interested in his brief discussions of Web 3.0. Sheninger really pulls from all the current 21st century education thought leaders (Yong Zhao, Andrew Churches, Alec Couros, George Couros, Bill Ferriter and many more) as well as more traditional but still current educational leadership thought leaders like Michael Fullan and others.

There are so many wonderful points that Sheninger hits (the following are in no way a comprehensive list!):

  • The world has changed… and so must schools!
  • The array of digital tools available to schools to enhance learning, increase engagement, connect globally and communicate more effectively is enormous (Interactive White Boards. Chromebooks, Tablets, Web 2.0 apps [like Facebook, Twitter, Skype, Prezi, Wikis, Animoto, etc.], Video Conferencing software, OpenCourseWare, Massive Open Online Courses, Gaming, etc.)
  • The concept of space (virtual or physical) is the entry point for instructional change… AS LONG AS THE TEACHERS ARE EMBRACING LEARNING FOR TODAY AND TOMORROW!
  • Support and PD for teachers is ESSENTIAL… empower, articulate the why and how focused on improving learning, build capacity, use data and share it transparently… and, acknowledge the potential roadblocks.
  • Digital leaders model the vision… once you use the technology you can become an advocate for it.
  • Communication, Communication, Communication… connected to Branding, Strategic Partnerships and Public Relations (he hits Branding/PR and Strategic Partnership building very well and often!)
  • The “Pillars of Digital Leadership”: Communication; PR; Branding; Professional growth and development; Student Engagement/Learning; Opportunity; and, Learning Environment and Spaces are all aligned to the ISTE NETS-A AND the Breaking Ranks Framework.

Here’s a couple more of my favorite quotes from the book:

“Technology can engage, connect, empower, and enhance teaching, how educators learn, the work done by schools, and stakeholder relations”  p.45

…”Leaders become the epicenter of their learning and determine what, where,  and  when they want to learn… Connectedness and control of learning provides leaders with the ability to determine their own path and to differentiate to meet their diverse learning needs”. p.122

Here’s some of the many references he makes:

What I didn’t like so much: Not really addressing the issue of the growing divide between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’. Basically, Sheninger said to not let that be an excuse to not take the steps to transform. I would agree with that but I would also like to see creative suggestions on how to deal with making the divide less pronounced. That said, within each school’s individual context there are ways to balance resources in a fair (but not equal) way that must be done with sensitivity and confidentiality. Sheninger gave the example of a laptop cart with less than a full class set of laptops that is used to supplement for those who don’t have a laptop.

Basically, there’s  a lot to like, a lot to reflect on and a lot to walk away with and immediately put to use.

REPOST – What “School Reformers” — And All Of Us — Can Learn From Pope Francis About Creating Change

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.

From: Harvard Business Review Twitter at https://twitter.com/HarvardBiz/status /354329065299271681/photo/1

From: Harvard Business Review Twitter at https://twitter.com/HarvardBiz/status /354329065299271681/photo/1

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!

Leadership, Motivation, Emotional Intelligence and Innovative Education… click.click.click.

From Alex Ragone's Flickr stream at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ alexragone/3461563518/ No changes made.

From Alex Ragone’s Flickr stream at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ alexragone/3461563518/
No changes made.

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!