Category Archives: Change

5 Ways Leaders Can Promote Schoolwide Learning for Restructuring

 

Restructuring-22

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“There is so much to learn…we need to be in a continuous learning mode.”       Fullan, 2013

Before taking a look at these the suggestions below, we must always be reminded about relationships, relationships, relationships! These 5 ways are built on a foundation of trust.  Relationships must continuously be nurtured and strengthened. Leaders and teachers must trust themselves in order to trust others. As Costa & Garmston (2002) state: “Self-trust is prerequisite to developing trusting relationships with others.”.  One way this can be developed is posted here and to help decide what balance leaders may need is posted here.

After considering the relationship piece, these 5 ways can help bring about innovation and learning that can translate in improved student learning.

1.Provide many opportunities to learn, explore and experience new knowledge and skills. Time to learn and experiment with colleagues can help change behaviours. Leaders need to plan to spend money for resources and to get creative with scheduling for on-going, embedded collaboration. Learning in community can change attitudes and beliefs that, ultimately, change behaviour and practices. Continued support for teachers along the way such as coaching is essential.

2.  Loose-tight leadership:  Change is messy.  Often we can end up with pockets of innovative teaching and the entire staff is at different places in the journey. To develop consistency in all classrooms, leaders can decide on areas that they are willing to be “loose” on and areas that they need to be “tight”on (Dufour, 1998). For example,  the school’s collectively agreed upon mission/vision must be a “tight” area.  Any decision is based on the question: Does it align with our mission/vision/values & beliefs? The areas that leaders can consider to be “loose” with are areas of discovery and exploration of new pedagogy/resources/tools. Other examples might be “tight” with the guidelines of digital citizenship & “loose” on finding innovative ways to teach it.  Once exploration has been done by the early adopters, then a collective decision can be made as a staff on some common practices/best pedagogy for the school.  This can create effective learning environments for students year after year with common language and effective pedagogy.

3.  Honor where people are at, provide generous support and remove barriers. In this  article by Schlechty (1993), he describes five roles people play in the change process and how they can be supported. He also defines the difference between school improvement and restructuring which is significant for where educational change is at currently and continuing to go.

4.  Develop teacher capacity to create teacher leaders by “making learning personal” (Bray, 2012) not just for students but for teachers too. Change is personal! Leaders can personalize learning by providing training and resources for self-improvement that is meaningful (see first paragraph above) and, by providing high-quality professional development at every staff meeting–directly and indirectly.  Directly meaning on-going PD during a portion of your staff meeting day. Indirectly meaning embedding the learning in everyday things.  For example, if the goal is to help staff learn about a highly effective strategy or tool, then use it in a meaningful way during your meeting. Something as simple as putting the staff meeting agenda in Google Docs and staff using mobile devices to see the agenda to follow the links will go a long way in staff learning.

5. On-going reflective practice that includes individual and school wide reflection. To keep reflection at the forefront, provide opportunity for personal reflection time during staff development time, develop reflection mechanisms for professional learning communities and, implement activities during professional development days to reflect as a whole staff. Promoting reflection at all stages of organizational change will assist in riding through the implementation dip. A great resource for individual and school wide reflective practice is here.

In what other ways can leaders lead successful restructuring?

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Why 7Habits?

Recently, I had another school approach me about the 7Habits initiative we have implemented at our school.  Some of the questions asked were “Why 7Habits?” and  “What makes it different from other character education programs?” My response involved going back to what my initial thoughts were when I first stumbled upon The Leader in Me book in Chapters one Saturday afternoon. After reading this book at that time, I knew it was different from programs that were known to me for the following reasons:

1. It Personally Develops All Stakeholders

The training process has a high level of personal reflection.  It’s not a “program” that train staff how to teach the 7Habits.  It’s a process that staff go through to reflect how they are living and can live by these timeless principles to improve relationships and productivity in their personal lives.  It also gives staff tools to deal with difficult situations personally and professionally, and above all, it helps people deal with change.  The biggest challenge that I have as an administrator is helping staff (and myself!) deal with change.  Everyone hates change because it’s uncomfortable. I have read many books about change (thank you Michael Fullan et al.) but it is very difficult to follow through as a whole group.  As a leader, it’s finding a balance between moving the organization forward and not overwhelming people. At that time, I believed that the 7Habits would help people in all areas of their life…not just professionally. The education profession can be very demanding on personal time.  This was one way to “give back” personally and, ultimately, when people are personally happy then it pays back tenfold professionally.  The staff are living the 7Habits and that in turn has made the learning more real and deep for the students and their families. It’s very powerful because staff have ownership

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2. It’s Sustainable

Another key feature is that it’s effectively sustainable due to the official and extensive training.  When administrators are trained as trainers then:

  • Whole staff can be officially trained in-house

  • On-going training can happen at every staff meeting to keep it in the forefront

  • New staff can be trained as they are hired

  • Parents and community members can also be trained to develop community  buy-in

Three years later, I’m reflecting upon this decision and I’m happy to report that it has made a difference!  How do I know?

  • Staff are walking the talk

  • Students are internalizing the habits and teaching it to their families

  • Parents report how their children are referring to the habits at home

  • Kids have the skills to lead conflict resolution on their own

  • School council request training

  • Staff have committed to high expectations aligned with our mission/vision and have made huge gains

  • We continue to to connect it to everything we do (i.e. digital citizenship)

It’s still going strong!  As a leader, I hope that it continues well after our team leaves.  That will be the ultimate indicator.

Reflections on Pedagogy, Technology and Change

“When you are engaged with others doing something meaningful, you can accomplish wonders.” (pp. 70). This quote is from a book by Michael Fullan called Stratosphere. From my perspective, this describes our journey at our school.

Our staff often celebrate and reflect what we have accomplished through collaboration. Our lead team (admin, special education facilitator/coach, & instructional/tech coach) also get together to reflect. The number one celebration theme for the past few years continues to be common language amongst staff, students and parents.  It started with the 7Habits language, then it gained momentum with the comprehension/thinking strategies and the gradual release pedagogy and now it’s carrying on with the DAILY 5 structure as well as purposeful technology integration including class blogs, student blogs and BYOD in  K-4 environment. Here is some of our baseline data for pedagogical change throughout the last few years:

  • All staff read The Leader in Me by Stephen R. Covey and were trained in the 7Habits
  • Some school council members read Leader in Me

  • All staff collaborated on developing mission/vision

  • School council educated in 7Habits & digital citizenship

  • All staff read Reading for Meaning by Debbie Miller and some read Strategies that Work by S. Harvey & A. Goudvis to extend their learning

  • All staff in-serviced in and instructing comprehension/thinking strategies from the books indicated above with common language

  • All staff teaching using gradual release of responsibility model to set up instruction for small groups and individuals

  • All staff assessing literacy using the Fountas & Pinnell system

  • All staff educated in and implement our 7Habits of Digital Citizenship

  • All staff have class blogs and some also have student blogs

  • Grade 1-4 classes implement BYOD

  • ¾ staff have been in-serviced in Daily 5 by “The Sisters”

  • All staff moving towards flexible classroom space/environment

  • School has been leveraging social media to:

    • develop professional growth

    • connect classrooms globally

    • engage parents and community

As I finished reading Stratosphere, I realized even more so what an incredible journey- pedagogically & technologically- we are traveling. Fullan states that “Pedagogy, technology, and change knowledge operating in concert will become a powerhouse of learning.” (pp.71).  I believe we are beginning to experience this due to our commitment to common language and framework:

1. Pedagogical change by implementing comprehension/thinking strategies within a gradual release of a responsibility model and flexible classroom environment model.

2. Technology integration by having the opportunity to facilitate our U21C project: Pedagogy First that provided time and support for teachers to collaborate.

3. Change knowledge by purposefully planning, innovating and building capacity: “…leadership and teaching is proactive in the sense of helping other people create a world they didn’t know they wanted.” (pp. 68).

It’s very exciting work!

Shift: “How Can We?” to “This Is What We Can Do!”

It is amazing to the see the mind shift of our teachers since starting our IREC Pedagogy First Project in September!  Our plan was :

Year 1

1. Teach the 7Habits of Digital Citizenship that our staff created so the filter can be opened

2. Assist teachers to create a class blog using the Gradual Release of Responsibility model

Year 2

1. Continue with class blogging

2. Invite students to bring their own devices

Well!  Plans are meant to be changed! It’s only January and half our classes are ready to start exploring BYOD!  It’s so exciting that our teachers are “chomping at the bit” to open up the filter and solidify our BYOD policy.  The conversation has shifted to “How can we?” to ” This is what we can do…!”.

Tune into Abundance

Stephen Covey describes the Win-Win Habit as the “Habit of Mutual Benefit”.  The mentality that one must have for this habit is of abundance:  “There is plenty out there for everyone, and more to spare”. I am amazed at my own children and how they have acquired a win-win attitude.  They love to share their ideas with others and enjoy having their ideas “remixed” by others for the benefit of everyone.  I think I grew up in a more competitive time.  I was taught to not share my work because others would “steal” my ideas or copy me.  I was not encouraged to collaborate often enough and thus have more of a competitive attitude. This paradigm has evolved for me due to the nature of my work and even more so due to interacting with others using social media such as Twitter.  I wonder if my children became more tuned into abundance due to their interaction with Web 2.0 /social media tools?

When I think about 21st century learning, collaboration is at the heart of it and having an abundance mentality is a prerequisite!  I ask myself…have I held children back from sharing and collaborating as often as they should due to my mentality?  Do the adults in children’s lives have the scarcity mentality and do our children have the abundance mentality?  If so, what does that look like for our learning environments at home, at school and at the hockey rink/soccer field/dance studio, etc.?  A win-win paradigm is crucial.  This leads to creative cooperation that result in innovation and invention.  Isn’t this what we want for our own children and our students?  What paradigm are you coming from and has it evolved?

My “TweetBites” from #ATLE

I’m looking back at my tweets from the fantastic ATLE 2011 conference last week.  The great thing about Twitter at a conference is that it is collective note taking.  You are left with all of the information & ideas that resonated with you as well as from other people. My learning is also reinforced by tweeting key points in the session or just reading what others tweet in the hashtag stream. Here are some “Tweetbites” from the three engaging keynote sessions: Scott Kinney from Discovery Education, Stephanie Hamilton from Apple and Michael Furdyk from TakingITGlobal.

Scott Kinney:

  • Why digital? interact with content differently, access to current & relevant content,  to meet the needs of all learners
  • Retention and speed of learning increases with digital media
  • Digital  media reaches students in many different ways
  • Joe Non-Netbook Video
  • Students ages 8-18 spend 71/2 hrs interacting with media per day=101/2 hr of content intake

Stephanie Hamilton:

  • The learning needs to drive the technology not technology driving the learning
  • Does the physical environment match an effective environment for learning?
  • Our brains are naturally social. We need collaboration maximize learning
  • Learning environments need to be user/student centric
  • SAMR Model
  • SAMR: Substitution is when you have the technology but you don’t change the pedagogy
  • Schools need to focus on pedagogy not just the technology
  • Teachers become paralyzed when they don’t know what 21st century learning looks like
  • “Job of teachers today is to create the conditions for invention”- Seymour Papert
  • Schools need to be providers of context not content or schools will be irrelevant…Content is everywhere
  • Information can double 3 times in 1 class period
  • Great book about change: Switch
  • Students want school to be less boring, real world application, interact with media and they want more choice!
  • Students don’t want to be the receivers, they want to be part of creating

Michael Furdyk:

  • Real world application for students
  • Giving kids voice throughout the world
  • TakingITGlobal actually giving voice to youth in changing the world. Powerful!

The Pedagogy Project

Let’s improve learning one slide at a time!

                                                  Flickr photo by aforgrave

Please add your slide to this Google Doc !

My goal with this project is to gather global exemplars of what pedagogy looks like and sounds like in effective 21st century learning environments. This project will be organized into five areas of teaching.  I believe that change will happen in small chunks.  Just like good teaching and coaching, chunking skills for educators can result in mastery little by little.  My hope is that change will be less overwhelming and paralyzing for educators if they see exemplars in smaller chunks.  They will feel confident and say “Hey, I can do this…”.

The slide should include a picture or document or video, link, etc. of a great example in the areas below.  Please also include the age/ grade level for your exemplar and your twitter handle.

Area 1: Formative Assessment

What formative assessments do you use for 21st century learning such as:
  • inquiry-based learning
  • student self-directed projects
  • writing using contemporary literacy
    tools such as blogging
  • …etc., etc. ?

Area 2:  Collaborative Culture and Routines

How do you establish an effective collaborative culture and set of routines for 21st century learning?

Area 3:  Planning

What are some examples of effective planning or planning tools you use for 21st century learning?

Area 4:  Evidence of Learning

How do you know the students have mastered the intended outcomes of learning?

Area 5: Interventions and Inclusion

How do you engage all students in the learning?

What strategies and/or tools do you use to assist students with different learning needs?

Don’t Forget the Management

                                         cc licensed  photo shared by Life Inspired Photography

There is a lot of literature out there about being a leader and the importance of leading not managing. This solid advice includes building trust and relationships but let’s not forget about the management of 21st century learning environments. I am not talking about making sure there is heat in the building…although heat is good.  I am talking about the structures that need to be in place for effective 21st century learning environments and the skills that go with developing and nurturing these environments.  Sometimes we don’t have the right balance of both and this can cause barriers in organizational/school/classroom change. This balance does not necessarily mean 50/50. At times, you may need 90% leadership and 10% management which could mean that you have not yet established solid trust and relationships and, therefore no learning will move forward for anyone in the organization/school/classroom. It could be 20% leadership and 80% management which may mean you have established trust and relationships and now it’s more about facilitating the teaching of skills and/or structure for effective learning. For example, when we think about 21st Century pedagogy which includes providing individual learning in a variety of formats for all children in a classroom, we think about how great that would be. I have not met an educator that did not agree with the fact that facilitating personal goals for all students and allowing for many choices in the learning process would be best for students. BUT…. where the resistance comes in is the “how”…how can that possibly be done? It’s the “how” of letting go of that control in an effective way.  Just the thought of following through with this kind of environment can be overwhelming and paralyzing for educators. However, if the management structures of the change are examined and broken down into manageable chunks then organizational/school/classroom change could be more successful.

Recently, @jimknight99 tweeted out about a book by Monty Roberts  that is a recommended read for instructional coaches. In this book Roberts (2001) writes about 0-10 learning. If all learning is from 0-10 then the 0-1 learning is building trust and relationships. If this 0-1 piece of the learning is not solid then no learning will happen. When I think about organizations/schools/classrooms, this is also true.  I would then add to this idea and say the 1-2 learning is managing this type of environment. This 1-2 piece includes explicitly modeling and teaching the routines and structures of the learning environment before the content. The 21st Century learning structure is new to many educators and students (unfortunately we have trained them in a traditional structure for years and the majority of them comply!).  Often this piece of professional development for educators is left out because we assume that educators can figure out how to manage this structure of learning for themselves once they change their pedagogy but, in fact, that is usually where they become paralyzed resulting in one of two things: end up going back to old ways or not feeling like they can be successful and do not even begin.
Think about your situation… What leadership/management balance do you
need to do for organization/school/classroom in order for effective change to
move forward?

Making Connections: Ask yourself…

                      Flickr Photo: Press Factory Juggling Group by chamsin

As leaders, we often hear from our staff that we have “too many balls in the air” and we are just “adding one more thing to our plates”.  We need to listen to this feedback and recognize that we may have too many school goals or these goals might not align with what we really want to accomplish in regards to student learning.  When too many goals are in front of us or when goals do not align then staff will get overwhelmed and, as a result, feel like they do not do anything well or only skim the surface.

Part of being a leader is making strong connections and alignment between school goals and what staff is actively doing to move towards reaching those goals.  In the book The Leader in Me, Covey adds a visual on page 179 that resonated with me.  It is a picture of arrows pointing to stakeholder needs (student learning) and inside the arrows are things/actions that a school is doing such as mission, vision, strategies, etc.  Some arrows are pointing all in the same direction… some are not.

Alignment Diagram pg. 179, Covey, 2008

As a leader in your school, ask yourself:

If the things we do as a school are put into each arrow, would all of the arrows point towards improving student learning?

Do I, as a leader, develop and facilitate meaning processes to align school goals and actions?

Do some arrows need to be taken way because they do not align?

Are some arrows actually barriers that hinder student learning for the 21st century?

If our arrows do align, what can I do as a leader to help make connections for my staff?

Deadheading: Moving Forward

A friend of mine is a horticulturist and she always tells me that deadheading flowers is “a must!” in order to sustain continual growth.  So while enjoying a morning coffee on the weekend I realized that I had better pull off the dead flowers so that new flowers can grow before she finds out!  While I was deadheading I began to think about the up coming school year how exciting it is going to be.  Last year our staff had a successful year of learning how to move students towards independence so that they can ‘hand the reins’ over to the students using the Gradual Release of Responsibility model (@Whatedsaid refers to this model in her Feb. 16, 2011 post). This model sets the teacher up for success in terms of effectively letting go of control that is so imperative for 21st Century learning environments. Akevy Greenblatt’s recent post “Technology does not equal 21 Century Learning” reminds us that facilitating learning is one of the essentials for a 21 century classroom.  As our teachers build their capacity in this area, a model that matches 21st century learning is beginning to replace the traditional model of the classroom.  Essentially, we are deadheading structures in the traditional classroom that do not allow for effective student learning.  As educational leaders we need to “deadhead” the structures, policies and strategies that hinder optimal student learning and find ways to support classroom teachers so that change is successful.  We must deadhead to allow for the development and the sustainability of best practices.  What will you “deadhead” in your classroom, school, or district this year?  Check out how adunsige @Grade1 does it!