Friday, October 31, 2014

What is the Your User Experience?

There has been a lot of buzz this week about the educator that spent two days as a students, and how it totally reshaped their perspective on miserable the life of a student can be in many of our classrooms. For me, it was validation that we aren't beginning all of our work with empathy at the heart of the process. Design thinking requires us to deeply understand the user experience and to truly solve for their needs. How could we reshape the minutes of instruction in our learning spaces if the user experience was truly at the core of our planning? How can we flip our work as instructional designers to not start with the stuff, but start with user experience. It seems like this needs to be at the core of all of our conversations. When we forget about those that we are supporting, this VIDEO becomes the outcome of our efforts to give folks new things and supports without their central needs at the core of the solution.

Lesson Planet- Building a Culture of YES

One of the most important changes that has come to my work as the Director of Innovation is the opportunity to say yes more often. As I principal, I was always excited about new ideas, and I was quick to support and promote them, but there were times when I had to pause and ask others for approval knowing that they were much more cautious with moving forward with new ideas to support kids. In my current role, saying yes has become a natural extension of leading the incredible educators dedicated to supporting kids at new levels. Saying yes has had a major impact on the positive energy throughout the district as ideas become valued and new opportunities become reality for teachers and students. Look around the walls of your school or district. If the word no is found on posters and other documentation, are you truly maximizing the culture of yes in your learning space? Consider saying yes with more frequency this winter and see what emerges from these simple three letters.

 Below is a video that I did with the great folks at Lesson Planet about building a Culture of Yes. Check out the video and their resources.


Monday, October 27, 2014

Future Ready Means Focusing on a Connection to People, Planet and Place

Connected Learning may some day devolve into a buzz word, but the need for connection in learning will never diminish. It has been with us since the earliest learning, and it will remain a part of the learning in whatever form it takes in the future. Connection takes on different forms in our learning ecosystem including connection to people, planet, and place. Connection allows us to find our tribe and grow our tribe in diverse ways. This connection to people, both near and far, tempers the loneliness that can come from the vastness of our global society. This personal connection is also a key to the sustainability of the learning that is taking place inside the classroom and beyond. Another piece of connection is adhering our souls to the planet. As a global citizens, it is impossible not to have your life impacted by the events around the planet on a daily basis. This is happening to us whether we know it or not, but realizing it and embracing this connection to our global brethren creates order and comfort as we notice the world that surrounds us. In classrooms that are providing opportunities to connect beyond borders, there is heightened engagement and a fresh energy for learning as well as a sense of deep soulful learning. Connection to place is the final piece of the triad. Connected learning, at its core, is both incredibly expansive while also being incredibly intimate. Connection means knowing your neighbor, serving your community, and feeling the power of the place that surrounds the air that you breath. This connection to place allows kids in both rural communities and urban centers to think, dream, sell, market, and solve globally while living locally in a place where connection to family, land, faith, and lifestyle are deep. Kids in community, connected to their sense of place, have an even greater chance to solve the biggest problems of the day because they are grounded as they dream the impossible. Schools and places of learning with true physical connectivity and strong digital infrastructures have a chance to make this connection triad possible in meaningful ways. Schools designing learning with this mindset to think not only about connected learning, but also, connection to people, planet, and place, are the schools that will truly be #futureready for the students, families, and communities that need it the most. For more on #futureready schools, check out this LINK


Change: Learn to Love It. Learn to Lead it by Richard Gerver has been a part of my weekend reading, and I just can't get one sentence out of my head. "It is no accident that, as times become more uncertain and susceptible to change, so our desire grows for the past, for a time of familiarity and security." There has been a tremendous amount of change in education and throughout Affton over the last decade, and it has caused a huge amount of excitement coupled with anxiety. There are many days when I long for the past as well. There was comfort, understanding, and stability in that space. Gerver's book pushed me to remember that even if we could return to the past, it isn't there. That truth is really hard for me, but it reminds me that I need the strength, support, and superpowers in each of you to make the road forward less bumpy and worth it for kids.

Monday, October 6, 2014

14 Years Late

I was listening to some educators talk about 21st century skills the other day. It was a great conversation about getting kids to fall in love with learning again and forever. I realized though that we are actually fourteen years late if we are going to frame the conversation around the term 21st century skills. It may be time to start talking about next practices that are iterations of the best practices that are rooted in research and in the previous successes of our school and other schools. How can we reshape the conversation, grow more reflective in our practices, and transform our practice in short cycles? We should continue to pursue infusing new energy, ideas, and resources into our work each day for the betterment of kids.