Tag Archives: collaboration

21st Century Learning perspective!

Could this video have been produced without Creativity, Collaboration, Critical Thinking (and problem solving), Communication and being able to organize and classify information – Curation? Ask Apple. I think not.


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)!

10 years too late? 21st Century Skill-building!

Wordle_Ed_TechThe time has passed to urge everyone to get ‘up to speed’ and hope that most do!

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.

From: Kathy Ishizuka's Flickr - http://www.flickr.com/photos/kathyishizuka/ 6270134103/sizes/l/

From: Kathy Ishizuka’s Flickr – http://www.flickr.com/photos/kathyishizuka/ 6270134103/sizes/l/

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).

A recent EdWeek blog by Peter DeWitt highlights the gulf between tech use in our personal lives (fairly advanced) and how well schools use technology.

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!

Unchanged from Jeremy Price's ForestForTrees Flickr - http://www.flickr.com/photos/ forestfortrees/5388596974/sizes/l/

Unchanged from Jeremy Price’s ForestForTrees Flickr – http://www.flickr.com/photos/ forestfortrees/5388596974/sizes/l/

Happiness… school accreditation/improvement – could there be a link?

Recently, I’ve been pondering how to promote / make opportunities for giving AND simultaneously build a reflective culture of appreciation. Will a culture of giving build happiness, purpose and contentment?

Various unconnected occurrences have led me to the same question…dealing with quarreling children; surfing Facebook for profundity {is that possible?}; interviewing students about service learning; discussing accreditation with teachers;…What is happiness? What ’causes’ the greatest happiness?

One answer jumped out – giving of ourselves and having that giving received and appreciated by others. It produces more than a moment of joy and a lasting smile. It produces a deeper feeling of contentment, purpose and happiness. Yet, it can only happen with (or, upon) reflection (which happens to be one of the driving concepts behind any kind of improvement).

Enter CIS/WASC Accreditation!

Not much happiness when it comes to all the work that evidence collection for accreditation entails (downright hostility, on occasion… by year’s end I can confidently predict that I will be the least popular administrator at my school) and, yet, some incredibly meaningful reflective conversations are resulting from teachers taking an honest look at the standards and indicators. These conversations center around how we can improve.

Now, the glass half-empty folks will end up saying that it’s all pointless because change is unlikely and yet… change happens. Improvement means change and it means hard work AND just the idea of improvement makes people happy and hopeful. I’m convinced that teachers (whether they self-identify as optimists OR pessimists) are inherently optimistic. Teachers are also givers. Given these characteristics and the possibility of improvement through reflection something incredible happens: Hard-working teachers will happily give an enormous amount of time and energy IF they know it will benefit those they are teaching (and there’s some appreciation for that!)

So… reflecting on school improvement brought on by the accreditation process it occurs to me that service and service-learning (and how we reflect on service) is the key to… happiness? In a sense, yes. It will certainly help us improve what we do to build compassion, good character, global citizenship and lifelong learning. It may also make us happy. So, the next question is how do we build that culture of service?

Crucial Conversations ARE necessary

In previous posts I have talked about establishing a collaborative culture focused on learning. I see that one of the roadblocks is shifting practice to one that requires teachers to collaborate also means that teachers must then open themselves up and become vulnerable.

Crucial conversations need to occur… but often don’t, in the interest of not ‘rocking the boat’. Certainly, Kerry Patterson and company did a great job of providing a communication ‘toolkit’ so that we CAN engage in safe, powerful dialogue without hurting feelings and making others angry… but, the fact is, it’s not easy! Making it safe for all collaborators to communicate honestly takes time and the ‘right’ effort in building trust.

Real collaboration just can’t happen if difficult questions aren’t encouraged and explored. One of Rick DuFour’s colleagues, Bill Ferriter, described very well…

I can remember several times where conflict felt like failure to our learning team. We’d have intellectual disagreements about practices and believe that everything we were building was coming to an end. Worse yet, we didn’t have the skills for conflict resolution AND we were fighting against a constant barrage of “be a team player” messages that surround schools… Luckily, we stumbled across a phrase that we drilled into our heads: “Questioning isn’t about the person, it’s about the practice.”

By remembering that simple idea, questioning became safer for those doing the asking and for those being asked… And it worked.

Teachers are so wrapped up in our practices—we own them, we craft them, we believe in them—and in the nobility of our work that being questioned can be one of the most painful and personal “offenses.” It was only when we take the focus off of the person that questioning became safe on our learning team.

Let’s have that crucial dialogue, openly explore and remember, “Questioning isn’t about the person, it’s about the practice.” … we all have room for improvement!

Shifts in the world = shifts in education? Welcome to the 21st Century!

I have three things very much on my mind, lately…

  1. the general direction that education is going;
  2. technology and how best to integrate it/use it/teach it;
  3. and, the work we’re doing at my school on continuing to build a collaborative culture.

Until I wrote that previous sentence I have been thinking of those three things separately. I must be going blind/losing my mind. Seeing them in print – it hits me hard that they are all inextricably related. The fourth thing, that ties the three together, is what I deal with at work on a daily basis.

I read Jay Cross’ Internet Time blog (irregularly) when I want to reflect on 21st Century learning as it spans the worlds of education and business. He descriptively summarizes the direction the world is going when he talks about learning…

The process of seeking out and sharing meaning is a responsibility of enlightened social citizenship… Work-life was much simpler in the last century. Information work entailed following instructions, logical analysis and left-brained procedures. Today’s concept work is improvizaton (sic). Learning leaders must deal with situations that aren’t in the rule book. Concept work relies on pattern recognition, tacit knowledge and the wisdom borne of experience. You can’t pick this up in a workshop… The workplace has changed. Business has become unpredictable. Results are asymmetric. Everyone’s connected…  Learning and work are converging. Time has sped up… The 21st century workplace is so different from its predecessor that managers and professionals must

follow a new set of practices to succeed.

Which leads to my thoughts on technology and education. There’s so many amazing blogs and websites that deal with technology, integrating it into instruction, tips and tools, etc. One of the most comprehensive ones I’ve come across is Educational Origami. I like it for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is how it organizes ‘Digital Approaches’ into the revised Bloom’s Taxonomy categories. Useful for educators to help students build the competencies/practices necessary to negotiate and succeed in the 21st Century workplace that Jay Cross describes.

Every ounce of my being believes that developing a collaborative culture in which administrators, teachers, students and parents learn together by establishing what outcomes are essential (the Target); how we will know students are achieving those outcomes (the Evidence); and, what we will do to support ALL students in achieving those outcomes (the Action) is THE WAY TO GO! Rick DuFour and his Solution Tree colleagues have a great blog (for all of us) that helps keep us focused on how to develop a real collaborative culture centered on learning. Problem is… it ain’t easy!

Procrastination, Coblaboration instead of Collaboration, unwillingness to adjust practice based on evidence because ‘that’s the way we’ve always done it’ all make it very difficult to stay on course and promote a collaborative focus on learning.

More to come later on using Targets, Evidence and Action as an organizer for school improvement and focusing on improving student learning…thank you, Jennifer Sparrow, EARCOS Expert Practitioner!

Positive Energy – Positive Expectations

Students in classes, once again.  The cycle restarts. Positive energy abounds.

In fact, I’m feeling pretty positive for two main reasons: I’m back in the classroom again… as a teacher, AND despite work being… well… WORK, it’s going pretty smoothly so far.  Orientation was short, a bit intense but IMHO went well. I think the core message – what we’re here for as educators – came through loud and clear.  Light that fire, encourage those questions, help the students meet learning goals (feedback in the form of formative assessments and trying new strategies, helps) really embrace our role as educators/guides/mentors and COLLABORATE and learn together.

I feel amazingly relaxed for having such a full plate (leading school accreditation, setting up MAP testing, guiding school-wide curriculum work, managing Professional Development for faculty, empowering HODs to facilitate learning on all levels, and teaching that class). I’ve talked about presuming positive intentions – something I regularly remind myself of.  An extension of that is establishing positive expectations. To me, that means expectations that are realistic and help us all move forward – learning together. Positive expectations for me and what I can offer – realistically. Positive expectations for my students and what they can achieve.  Positive expectations for faculty in what they can achieve.

The start of a new year SHOULD be positive… let’s keep that energy going through the entire year!