Posts Tagged With: education

How Transformation Actually Occurs

PART 1

Last week I was going about my nightly ritual of checking student Kidblog accounts to moderate and approve any posts or comments that may have been submitted in the past 24 hours. I’ve been doing this since September when we introduced our grade 4-6 students to the concept of blogging, an idea that has been received by the teachers in my school to varying degrees. Some have embraced it with great enthusiasm while others are still trying to figure out exactly how it can support their daily teaching practice. That’s OK. The way I look at it, transformation is a curve, and some move along that curve faster than others. The students, on the other hand, have been highly engaged with blogging from the day we started.

So, while checking the student blogs I was quickly drawn to our recent 4DE class posts where 61 comments were awaiting moderation. I thought, “Wow! Where did these come from?” As I started to read (and approve) them I was not able to determine who wrote them, but they were appropriate and appeared to be written by other grade 4 students from somewhere. That’s the beauty of Kidblog. All posts and comments require administrator approval before anyone can see them. This allows us to open our blogging experience to the entire world. It was not until one of the last remaining comments that I was able to determine the source; and this only because the student gave the name of his school. Then the very last submission confirmed who was responsible for having the students comment on our 4DE posts; Mr. Groves. This made my day.

So what does all this have to do with transformation?

PART 2

Mr. Groves had been the grade 1 teacher at my school for the past year, covering a maternity leave that recently ended. While on our staff, he immersed himself in any capacity building experience that was made available to him. He spent time researching and experimenting with iPad apps, implementing a web-based guided reading program, and delving into the world of Twitter to make connections and improve his professional practice. This culture of ‘failing forward’ at our school enabled Mr. Groves to take the necessary risks which made student learning more relevant. Although individual blogging was a bit advanced for his grade 1 students, he did comment on the older student blogs from time to time and became familiar with the Kidblog program. 

At the end of March Mr. Groves left us, but spent only a few days on the substitute teacher list before landing a term position at a cross town school teaching grade 4.  And these comments I was approving were coming from his students. He was introducing them to blogging by having them comment on our student’s posts before creating posts of their own. I contacted him right away and thanked him for taking this great tool and introducing it at another school. He shared his class link and told me that other teachers at the school were already approaching him to learn more about blogging with students. (Insert pride here) He’s taking what he learned here and sharing it there. It’s like passing a baton.

CONCLUSION

Transformation is not an easy process. I’ve often wondered how we will ever make the necessary systemic shift with so many fixed mindsets out there. As school leaders, we can easily get frustrated and lose hope when ideas we perceive as forward-thinking are embraced by few and shunned by many. But then I think of individuals like Mr. Groves and am reminded of how transformation actually occurs. Not usually in large numbers but one individual at a time. Eventually, a critical mass forms and we find ourselves at our destination without even knowing it.

Whether or not you are a person of faith, this prayer is a great metaphor of our work as transformative educators. Creating the Church of Tomorrow. Keep going.

Categories: 21st Century Competencies, 21st Century Learning, Capacity Building, Education Transformation | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Don’t Forget the “Little Picture”

As an administrator I’ve always had to keep my eye on the big picture. At least that’s what I’ve always told others when they asked why a particular initiative had been undertaken or a decision had been made. After all, everyone must know that if we spent all our time tending to the needs and concerns of individuals we wouldn’t get anywhere. There has to be a big picture. That’s what a vision is and any good leader has a vision for their organization, right?

Well over the past few years my thinking has taken a 180 in this area. In Kouzes & Posner’s The Leadership Challenge they describe a good leader as “someone who is able to be in the balcony and on the dance floor at the same time.” You see, we’ve got to look beyond the big picture if we hope to move our schools forward. With each and every system wide or school wide change there are many individuals who are each affected in their own way. It is our job to understand this and work with those within our circle of influence to assist them in better understanding and moving forward.

With society and education changing faster than ever, there has been no more important time than now for leaders to see the little picture. Excellent teachers are being called upon to transform a pedagogy that has been a mainstay in our educational institutions for decades. Leaders must paint a vision and enlist individuals to join them in bringing it to life. Transformation will happen, but it will take place one teacher at a time, in their own way and at their own pace.

So think big and push the envelope, but don’t take your eye off the little picture.

Categories: Capacity Building, Education Transformation | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Who is Within Your Circle of Influence?

In Stephen R. Covey’s book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People he refers to the importance of concentrating one’s energy within his/her circle of influence. Instead of reacting to or worrying about conditions over which you have little or no control, focus your time and energy on things you can control.  Often, we waste valuable energy on the circle of concern–things over which we have little or no control.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about influence a lot. If you are reading this blog post you are probably someone who has a vested interest in transforming the educational paradym that currently exists. Since building my own personal learning network I’ve engaged in many conversations with forward thinking educators who have stretched my thinking with innovative ideas that challenge the status quo. (@ecosys @edchat @elemchat) I often wonder how many of these amazing individuals are exerting their influence on others.

The only way we are going to build the critical mass that is necessary in order to shift the educational landscape to a place that better meets the needs of today’s learner is by working inside our circle of influence. The place where your great ideas can take flight.

So I ask you — Who is within your circle? Is it one other colleague? Is it a classroom full of students? Is it a school full of teachers? Is it an entire jurisdiction? Once you determine your circle of influence, I urge you to act.

Categories: Capacity Building, Community Engagement, Education Transformation | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

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