Thursday, January 31, 2013

Five for Friday- Links and Ideas

The essential nature of connected learning

What are the key elements for effective 1:1 initiatives over time? Are we missing any elements?

Eight Essential Elements for Today's Classroom.

6 entrepreneurial skills that can make us better educators

A story that looks at the complexity of international test scores in education.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Being Open: Modeling the Need to Talk about the Hard Stuff

It wasn’t that long ago when I grew a bit wiser about the power of moving from tolerance to understanding. During this period, I was being asked to confront my privilege in life as it relates to race, and I realized that tolerance alone wasn’t a healthy place for me. For me, it wasn’t enough to say that I was tolerant of another person or a group of people. As a learner and someone with a desire to search for fairness, truth, and justice, I knew that I wanted and needed to grow into a place of fresh understanding at all of the places along the ladder of inference from events, patterns, assumptions, and mental models when it came to my understanding of how race impacted our society. I knew that a journey toward understanding was a healthy path beyond tolerance.

On the surface, many of us will say that we have had this realization and are in a space of understanding instead of tolerance, but I wonder how deep this runs across the many “ism” including classism, sexism, racism that infect our opportunity for a healthy society. As a country, we have had almost fifty years of work surrounding race following the Civil Rights Movement, and there has been a lot of growth in understanding (plenty more to do), but what about our movement from tolerance to understanding when it comes to sexual orientation? Can we grow our understanding at a quicker rate than we did with race? Can we avoid the same mistakes? Can we engage in a healthy conversation? Can we ask the right questions?

I seek fresh understanding in this area too. Watching the video below from United States Womens National Team member Megan Rapinoe gives me hope that we can talk about tough issues like sexual orientation in sports, not only womens’ sports, but mens’ sports, in shorter order than our fits and starts about race in sports over the last decades. I’m not sure about other places and spaces. Help me on my journey for greater understanding, and forgive me for the places in my journey that leave me awkward and without the right

The Courage to Listen to Your Team of Rivals

There has been a lot of talk this year about the concept of a Team of Rivals with the release of the movie, Lincoln. This phrase was attributed to the efforts of Abraham Lincoln to surround himself with many different points of view by Doris Kerns Goodwin in her book on Lincoln. Coca-Cola recently released a video concerning obesity in America. I placed it below for those of you haven’t seen it. They talk candidly about their role as it has contributed to this national obesity epidemic, and it moves away from place blaming on others (even there is plenty to go around), and goes directly to doing what Coca-Cola has done well for years, frame a solution through marketing and pictures.

They tell a story that can unify rivals through an emotional plea. They are choosing to be a part of the solution. As school leaders, we often shy away from folding rival voices into the mix as it is easier to make them the common enemy that holds our current team together. This is unfortunate as it keeps us from fresh perspective, new lens to view our work, and without a clear sense of the mental models of others. Who will be the leaders in education that can truly open the doors to a conversation with a team of rivals? Who will realize that no one has a monopoly on good ideas?

Personally, I want to hear from home school advocates and no-school advocates. I want to engage with our charter schools and our private schools. I need those voices along with the voices of many generations of learners to be at the table to craft our toughest solutions. Having Coca-Cola be willing to be a part of the solution on obesity should inspire innovative educators to go to the toughest places to sell our ideas and demand a seat at the table. We should call upon the wisdom of Lincoln to assemble a team of rivals, and move our ideas to state houses and departments of education. We should take our message, our story, our inspiration, and our zeal for true, deep, substantive learning to a much larger audience, so our kids and our communities have a chance of real success.

to shine again.

To Sell is Human- Thoughts from Educon

As I work my way through Daniel Pink’s new book To Sell is Human, it has been interesting for me to reflect on two of his essential points for being someone that can convince and persuade others to the needs of the group. Being a school leader is about selling, selling a vision, selling a commitment to kids, and selling everyone on the need for things like grit, perseverance and empathy during the toughest times when we have no more energy to give. Two of his factors for excellent “salesmanship” are attunement and buoyancy. In a lot of ways, these are similar to the ideas of empathy and perseverance through moments of failure. 

I believe that we are all on a journey to grow in these areas, but I wonder how intentional we are in these areas within our own personal development, the development of our teacher leaders, and the development of our students. Many of those reading this have colleagues in their personal learning networks that are thinking, learning, and struggling with fresh ideas in Philadelphia as a part of Educon, the annual ideas and innovation conference hosted by the Science Leadership Academy. It is clear from the Twitter traffic this weekend that both empathy and persevering through tough times are a part of the conversation. How are you selling your community on these ideas? What stories are you telling that provide hope? What decisions are you making that showcase that these are important to you as a leader? The next phase of education is really hard. It isn’t about test scores and assessment. It is about culture building, and preparing our kids for a world where the majority of workers will be an entrepreneurs in some form. Educon is part of the silver buckshot that will help the education system to heal, and our ability to be perceptive to others, attunement, and bounce back from adversity, buoyancy, will be central to finding deep, sustainable success.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Five for Friday- Link and Ideas

'A Bill of Rights and Principles for Learning in the Digital Age': Great conversation piece about the needs of schools and kids in a connected world

Beyond 'Grit:' Where the Character Conversation Is Going Wrong 

Seems like every district should have an iZone for promoting innovation and ideas. 

A different voice on the use of incentives for learning. 

This is an incredible report about a way forward that doesn't have us chasing the success definition of the past.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Five for Friday- Links and Ideas

How do we bring relevance to each day? Great ideas from this educator.

How many folks should be headed to college? Only those that can finish?
Great post from Karl Fisch 

A great piece on things to look for in a today's classrooms that are successful.

30 ways to promote creativity in your classroom.
Thought that this was an interesting study about which items truly promote learning. "Highlighting Is a Waste of Time: The Best and Worst Learning Techniques"

Are we ready to do the hard stuff?

There are so many social, economic, and environmental justice issues that surround our daily lives. They are issues small and large that impact our community and our planet. Part of our national conversation surrounding education needs to be how we are creating the conditions essential for students to talk about these issues as well as contribute to the solutions. Beyond the Common Core is a whole set of skills, passions, and understandings that we must cultivate to create a generation of life-long learners and solutionists. It is easy to write standards. It is easy to create assessments. It is easy to judge schools and teachers. The hard stuff, the essential stuff comes from whether we can develop empathy in our kids, so that they can work tirelessly to promote justice and fairness in our society. This talk by Michael Pollan inspired these thoughts, and it is worth a listen.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Five for Friday- Links and Ideas

What if we dug into the most important data to discuss education? Could we love the complexity of the data as opposed to the story on the surface? Great read

This article describes the time and space that we are creating through our learning teams for next year for conversation. Hopefully, it leads to the healthy discourse.

Great piece about how it takes a diverse team of thinkers to real create sustainable change. 

As we continue to look for window to discuss social justice issues, here is a link to the work at Teaching Tolerance. Incredible resources for all subject areas. 

Are you ready for National Green Week on Feb. 4-8? How can we showcase our work with sustainability in our community?

Friday, January 4, 2013

Five for Friday- Links and Ideas

What would it look like to change to a competency-based model for middle school? Would it give kids more space to learn at their pace? 

The start of the second semester is a great opportunity to think about making changes in your classroom design to maximize learning. Here is some background. 

Local program that seem ripe to help us with innovation. 

Really excited to learn more about Daniel Pink's new book

Been reading Makers by Chris Anderson about the next industrial revolution and surrounding students as manufacturers. This site shows some of the next tools to fill our classrooms surrounding technology.