Goal 2 – Deepen my understanding of today’s educational environment

Learning today and Leading tomorrowWhy this is important to me: As a technology director, my 21-year career in education is somewhat nontraditional. My path originated from the “technology” side. First with a two-year electronics technology degree (1996) and then followed up with  a bachelor’s degree in business information systems (2005). Both degrees helped me become a better “technologist” and gave me a great foundation in implementing information systems within our organization.  A foundation that has deepened through numerous applied  “on the job” experiences. Then in 2010, my education lightbulb went off.  While my master’s major was in information and communication technology – my emphasis area was a 15 credit graduate certificate in eLearning.   While the “e” part in e-learning was easy for me (technology) it was the instructional design process in e-learning that was completely transformed my understanding and vision where technology and instruction can coexist to deepen and amplify learning.  

Of all the areas of my job, this (instructional innovation) is my passion. I not only want to continue to grow my understanding/skills in this area, but also support the growth of educators across my district/region/globe.

 

Action Steps

Instructional Focus/Professional Development Action Steps

  • Complete the design of the Innovative Instructional Leadership graduate program and publish courses with creative commons licenses so that others may use and/or adapt.
    1. Right now my students are in course 4 – Real World Learning Design.  We are off to a great start.  I would like to work on creating more engaging f2f sessions while modeling the effective use of technology with instruction/learning.
    2. Timeline – May 2016
  • Conduct JITT Trainings (small group) – Create/design purposeful PD for educators around district goals while modeling good instructional practices.  Collaborate with instructional coaches on design and delivery.  
    • Possible topics:
      1. ePortfolios (done)
      2. Making thinking/learning visible
      3. Using the SMARTBoard as a student station (differentiation)
      4. Maybe focus on the competencies – creativity, collaboration communication, critical thinking/problems solving, community service, careers,
      5. Student-centered learning
      6. Differentiation to personalization
    • Timeline at least 5-6 times per year starting in Sept.
  • Deeper/Personalized Learning (district wide) – This year I have been able to collaborate with our curriculum director and instructional coaches on all school PD.  We have 3 days in all and kicked off our first day during workshop week around deeper learning.  I want to work on modeling engaging learning experiences during these meetings.  I also want to find ways for educators to share what they have learned!
    1. My contributions to the Aug PLC day (presentation, website) Deeper Learning  Action plan (I used google forms with Autocrat to generate information from a google form to this google doc)
    2. Timeline: We will have another session in October, and one in March.
  • Improve presentation skills, facilitation skills, and coaching skillsCoach Clipart
    • Cognitive Coaching Certification
      • So far I have received 1 day of training out of the 8.  One of the things that I have observed, in these sessions, is that the trainer uses some great instructional practices I would like to try during JITT’s.  I would also like to try coaching at least 5 people.  I think this model could also be useful on a larger scale – not just for classrooms – but potentially other leaders.  
    • Implement at least 5 new small group/large group PD strategies that engage learners

Learner-Centered Action Steps

  • Develop understandings of the early learning environments.  Of all the different age levels and groups, I am least familiar with understanding the learning environments in grades PK-2.  I would like to gain a better understanding of great pedagogical practices in these grade levels.
    • Attend/participate in an Online Course: Building Rigorous & Robust PreK-3 Learning Environments – this is a FREE 18-week course through MESPA/MDE.  
      • Notes from kick-off day – One thing that I learned from this day – is there are many similarities in what we want in PK-3 classrooms and. HS classrooms.  
    • Observe understandings in PS Walkabouts
    • Potentially design PD around this (Instructional coach and/or principal)
    • Visit innovative early learning schools (Austin? – October?
  • Participate in Renegade Leadership Book Study to learn more about the environments in other schools.

 

Resources Needed (dollars, people, resources)

  • Training – Cognitive Coaching
  • Training –  Online Course: Building Rigorous & Robust PreK-3 Learning Environments
  • Work with #wsucohort1 teachers to practice Cognitive Coaching Skills
  • Find at least 1 early ed teacher to work with to design/create rigorous/robust PK-3 learning environments.  (I may need to work with Primary principal  and instructional coach to find someone)
  • Seek to find pk-3 innovative schools/classrooms outside of Byron to observe interview.
  • Find opportunities to collaborate on the development of PD with building principals
  • I’d like to try and co-facilitate a district book study (Innovator’s mindset?)
  • Reflection of progress (self and with others)

 

Research

 

Deliverables

Notes, Agendas, Presentations, Pictures & Videos, Survey Feedback, Reflection/Blog posts, Voxer discussions

Improving My Leadership Presence

As I shared in my previous post – The Transparent Technology Director, I have decided to be completely transparent in my goals for the year. While I am still developing my 360 evaluation tool,  in the next few blog posts, I will be sharing my 2016-17 personal professional goals.  I dwindled the list down to 5 goals in COSN focus areas of leadership, instructional focus/professional development, stakeholder focus, digital communications, and information technology management.

In each of my goal blog posts, I will share my goal, why it’s important to me, action steps, resources needed, and predicted deliverables/evidence of learning.  As always, your feedback is appreciated.

Goal 1 – Increase my leadership presence at Byron Public Schools

  • Why it’s important to me –  Last year was a great learning year for me.  I was charged  with evaluating our district’s 1:1 initiative, and worked with district instructional coach’s on providing more Just In Training Time sessions for the district.   Within both of these items, I was able to re-connect with district teachers.   From these connections, I began a journey of learning more about our district’s classroom environments.  I LOVED being invited into classrooms and observing learning in action.  There were other times, I went in to observe classrooms with principals.  In any of these situations, I found it  helped me understand where I can be a better support for our classrooms and schools.  I would also like to improve my presentation skills.  I am, by far, most comfortable in small group, 1 to 1 settings.  However, in large group settings – I feel I feel I am not quite as confident as I wish to be.  I would like to  learn strategies that can captivate large group audiences.  I specifically am looking to improve my storytelling skills – as well as facilitation of large group staff development.  (NO SIT AND GET – or at least very little of it!)  
Leadership Presence Traits

Image Amy Cuddy Ted Talk  Your body language shapes who you are

  • Action Steps
    • Increase visibility within Byron Public Schools classrooms.  Work with each principal and schedule “walk-abouts” to observe learning in action.  While it is a challenge, I would love to be able to see 100% of Byron Classrooms by April/May. Keep a running doc of reflections in each building.
    • Conduct and record at least 20 interviews  classroom/learning stories to share with our community. (4 or 5 per building)
    • Find opportunities to observe large group presentations/PD.  (Good ones) Reflect on strategies  used to engage the audience.  Mix observations with F2F and online (TedTalks is a great place to observe!).
    • Design and implement effective in-house PD sessions (JITT and Staff Dev days). Take time to reflect – what worked, what didn’t work. – Revise and retry. Create survey to be shared after each session to improve efforts.
    • Find opportunities to shadow 5 leaders outside of my district to gain insight on leadership qualities/strategies of presence.  Reflect and assess skills/strategies I can improve based on what I see.
    • Schedule at least 1 #mnlead chat around “Leadership Presence” and possibly a follow-up Google Hangout on Air interview with leaders to discuss these traits/strategies. (by January)
    • Continue to challenge myself with experiences outside of my comfort zone. (ongoing)
    • Create a mid-year reflection/evaluation in January – share with superintendent
    • Improve skills from the Leadership Impact Quotient Assessment
      • Results from Sept 18 self-assessment (below)- I would like to work on my communication and emotional agility  based on my self-assessment data. 
Leadership Impact Quotient Assessment

My results from the Leadership Impact Quotient Assessment

  • Resources Needed (dollars, people, resources)
    • I would love coaching and continuous feedback on my speaking skills.
    • Continued opportunity to present within our district.  (with feedback on areas of improvement)
    • Connections of people to observe/shadow outside of district (It doesn’t just have to be in education either)
    • Opportunities to observe great presenters outside of Byron (could be travel
    • Work with principals to schedule walkabouts.
    • Schedule time weekly – to reflect on goal.
  • Research
  • Deliverables (complete by May/June) –  Interviews, Reflections/Blog posts, Survey Data, Meeting Dates, Agendas, presentations. Before/after Self-assessment
Leadership Presence Wheel

Leadership Presence Wheel – via orachoaching.com

The transparent technology director

Mother Teresa Quote

This fall I will be creating an implementing a  360-degree survey to receive feedback on my performance as a technology director for Byron Public Schools.  I originally looked at using Marzano’s District Leadership Evaluation tool.  I have to admit, as a technology director, I had a hard time identifying with this tool and found that it would require quite a bit of word-smithing to make it applicable to my job. I also wanted to be completely transparent with my goals and professional growth this year.  For me, that meant using my blog as a place to publish my goals, measurements, artifacts, and reflections of work. Instead of putting this behind a locked site, for only me and my Superintendent to see – my  ePortfolio would be completely public.  (Thanks @gcouros for the inspiration!)

Why?  I want to become a better leader in my field.  Putting my growth information behind a locked site for only a few to see is not going to give me the feedback I need to grow.  Making this decision is not easy… I am putting myself “out there” for criticism.  However, having a growth mindset, I am ready to take that criticism and  grow from it.  (Do I have reservations/fears about this  – you better believe it!)

I began looking for an evaluation framework for the tech director role.  Two sites immediately surfaced  that I felt did a fairly good job  to possibly measure what I bring to Byron’s table.

  1. ISTE Admin Tech Standards (I also like some of the coaching standards – especially teaching, learning, assessment)
  2. COSN’s Framework of Essential Skills of the K-12 CTO

At first glance, the COSN framework is quite comprehensive and has many strands/sub-strands.  Essentially, it takes the tech directors position (they call it chief technology officer or CTO) and break it down to bits.  My concern in using this as a tool for myself and others – it’s too big.  If I were to create a survey tool from this framework – it would take too long for my end users(who are giving me feedback) to complete.  I also found that I was more inspired to use ISTE’s standards. It was much shorter and  I could really see areas where I could grow and become a better LEADER.  I am going to co/mingle some of the frameworks/standards.

My goal is to create 1 survey  and seek feedback from staff, district leadership/board, peers, and key vendors.  I do not want to create a survey for each audience type.  I want the survey to be short and sweet with some open ended areas for feedback/suggestions.  I am planning on using the following scale. (click this link to provide feedback on the scale)

Tech Director Scale

Need your advice! I have created a doc to collect overall feedback from you.  Note, the ePortfolio section at the top right of this blog.  I am just starting to build that out and could use your help.  What am I missing? What resources do you have to share? Do you have any comments/advice?

Are we there yet? Evaluating 1:1 and 21st Century Instruction

Are we there yet?

One of my goals for the 2015-16 school year was to research the impact of our 1:1 iPad program on 21st-century instruction.  This was year 3 of  1:1 iPads in grades 7-12.  It was time to see if we were making an impact.   Even though 21st-century instruction is a “dated term”, it is still the term we coined in the report.  Maybe technology infused pedagogy could have been a better term – but honestly, what we are really looking for is student-centered learning that is amplified using technology.

The research would include feedback from parents, students, and educators.  Because our program is a 1:1 in only grades 7-12, I also needed to look at the differences of our 1:1 classrooms vs. non 1:1 classrooms.  This was a change from our 2014 survey.

The first step in this process was to redesign a couple of surveys to ask questions to around these instructional practices.  The parent survey had very little revisions, the student survey had a few revisions, and the teacher survey had significant revisions.

I decided to send the newly designed teacher survey to one of my favorite email groups – KIC – a technology integration group based out of the Minneapolis- for feedback.  From that email, I received quite a few responses, but it was  Dr. Joel VerDuin’s (@jverduin), Chief Technology Officer of Anoka-Hennepin schools, that gave me excellent advice!  He suggested that I also include focus group interviews. What a brilliant idea! How to archive these interviews – why not record (with my iPad!) and include them in the report?  These powerful video interviews with students, teachers, and samples of student work could further tell a story of how technology was impacting our classrooms.  It goes beyond graphs and charts and makes these new learning environments visible!  To deliver the report, I needed a tool that would work with text, graphs, and EMBED video – so I chose Google Slides.  I altered the page setup (8.5 x 11) and begin to organize my work.  If anyone needs a printed copy – a PDF can easily be downloaded and printed.

Below is the results of my research.  While we have had some great success, we still have a tremendous amount of work to do.  We are by no means “there” yet and will be creating new goals based on the findings of this research.  Take a peek at the videos.  Some teachers are at the beginning stages of new learning environments, while others have been working at it for a while. This also does not capture all of the great things our teachers are doing – just a small sample!     All worthy of celebrating!

Link to Presentation

 

 

 

 

Ripples: Influence, Impact and Connected Leadership

I have been reflecting about influence, impact  and connected leadership today.  How do others influence me? How do I influence others?  How far does one’s influence/impact reach?   When I think about influence, I think of ripples.  The first ring of impact is quite visible and deep but is the smallest in diameter. The rings continue to grow, but may not have as much depth and impact as that first ripple effect. Of course the ripple effect is going to differ based on the kind of impact.  The impact of a stone will have a larger ripple effect than a single rain drop. We are constantly being influenced by other sources.  What started as one ripple, may be morphed by the influence of another, and another.  Even external disruptions like bugs and boats – (technology) – will have also cause a ripple effect on the original impact of the ripple.

Riplle Picture

Flickr CC – aislinnv – https://www.flickr.com/photos/aislinnv/292440405

Today I presented at the Symposium of Women Educational Leaders conference a session called Learning and Leading with Social Media.  This presentation is a compilation of many influencers from my PLN that has had an impact on me for many years.   Even last night, as I was finishing my presentation, I sent out a single tweet.

Tweet from Apr 25.

Tweets and ripples

That tweet was picked up and retweeted by Kory Graham (@korytellers) who in turn sparked some tweets by  @ShellTerrell  @pammoran  @RosaIsiah  @teachwithsoul  ‎@AllysonApsey @Jennifer_Hogan @JennBinis and then tweets from Australia @mlobrien1 and New Zealand @vanschaijik started coming in – offering to help and support.  This wasn’t just a sprinkle of support -but a pouring of support from women leaders from all across the globe. (View the storify  conversation)  

As I presented my thoughts of connected leadership to  admin and aspiring administrators in MN today, I began to wonder – what kind of ripple am I creating?  Am I making an impact?  Or a ripple of influence? My PLN, I have created and interact with, continues to mold who I am professionally, what I believe, and where I will take action. My hopes is to  pay it forward with drops, rocks, ripples to support other educator who are willing to make their own ripples with their peers, pln, and most importantly – students!

Innovation and the 4 PLC questions

PLCs have become a staple in schools across the US.  No matter where you are in your adoption of PLCs – it’s undeniable that there is power in teachers talking about students and learning.  I spent some time with my MN PLN friends Ryan Cox, Kristin Daniels, and Eric Simmons a few month ago talking about this very topic.   We even presented some ideas at the Fall MASA conference and the Ties conference  last year.  But, as I have been reading and discussing George Couros’s book – Innovator’s Mindset – I once again coming back to those 4 questions and ways we can use PLCs to catapult innovation into our classrooms and schools.

Below I have listed the 4 PLC questions and have shared ideas and conversation starters to further explore those questions with innovation.

 

PLC Question #1 – What is it we expect our students to learn?

I think it is important for all of us to think about what it is we want our students to learn in school.  We are accountable to meet certain standards and I think sifting through all of those standards and picking out the critical standards is very important work.    

But is that it?  Are we going to be satisfied with our students leaving our classrooms, grade levels,  and school being proficient only in content?   While we want our students to know content, we have much more responsibility than that to ensure that we are developing today’s and tomorrow’s learners/citizens.  Just knowing stuff, isn’t enough. Once our critical ELO’s are determined, the exciting/transformational innovation can occur when educators take the time to connect core content to real world (job, life, social/emotional, local/global citizenship) experiences.  Identifying subject area critical ELO’s also opens the door to interdisciplinary opportunities.  Students are reading in science and social studies – how can we take advantage of this time to assess reading?  

And finally, what is it our students want to know or are curious about? What are the opportunities to connect content with their interests?

PLC Question 1 - with a twist

Innovation opportunities with PLC question 1

PLC Question #2 – How will we know when they have learned it?

Once we pick our critical ELOs and design learning experiences we need to determine how we will know students understand what we originally set out to teach them.  This question has all to do about assessment and with assessment brings multiple opportunities for innovation.  The first that comes to mind is formative assessment (assessment for learning).  As we apply curriculum, we need to do small checks to see if students understand what we are trying to deliver.   We use this information one of two ways.  We either give students feedback to improve their success OR we alter something in our instruction to better meet the needs of our students.  There are a variety of ways to do formative checks to find what students know.  Technology can also provide an opportunity to innovate formative assessment.  Instead of a one sized fits all system, we can now tailor assessment according to the child’s needs at the child’s pace.

Some of the more recent things that I see that are exciting are technologies that making thinking visible.  Drawing pictures, telling stories, and creating products (go makers!) to showcase what a student knows can be a very rich form of assessment.  Even if a student makes something with their hands, they can take a picture/video and explain their thinking very easily with today’s tech tools.  These thoughts can be shared with parents, other students, and even at a global scale for feedback.   This moment of learning can now used as artifacts  to measure growth over a long period of time.  

Assessment AS learning brings incredible way to innovate assessment – as the student has more ownership of the learning.  Do you provide students with an opportunity to own their learning?   Do they take more time to self assess/reflect on their work?  Do they recognize their strengths  and area where they need to improve?  As we move content into “real world” experiences – I believe it is these types of artifacts and  reflections that can help us understand if students understand the real world skills we are trying to provide them.   I firmly believe – that the ePortfolio IS the assessment of the 21st century.

Assessment for, as, and of learning. Image credit – http://www.edu.gov.on.ca

How will we respond when some students do not learn?

One of my favorite videos is Todd Rose’s Ted Talk – The myth of average.  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4eBmyttcfU4  He offers a few critical findings from neuroscience that help us to re-examine assumptions about learning and new strategies to consider when designing learning opportunities for our students. Do you design your content and assessment to the edges or to the average?

If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree - it will live its whole life believing it is stupidThere are numerous ways we can begin to innovate when learners do not understand what we are trying to teach them.   First – have you provided flexibility in how a student can meet the assessment you have provided?  As we go down the road of personalization, we need to consider multiple paths to show learning and meet our learning goals.   Universal Design for Learning  offers some powerful strategies for educators to meet the needs of all learners by creating flexible paths to the how, what, and why of learning.  

So often, I see interventions being exactly the same thing that did not work the first time (or second) for students…only MORE of it.  And so the boredom and frustration begins.  How open are you in creating  multiple paths in learning? Do students  have an active role in the decisions about their learning? Will this bring more buy-in to meet the course goals?  

There is no doubt that relationships between the student and teacher can be key here.  The better we know our students, the better we can customize their learning and connect learning to their interests.  Are learner profiles beneficial option to get to know our students quicker?  (last year’s ePortfolio might help too!)  

What about the pace?  If students do not learn, do you fail them – and move them forward, only for the same students to get further behind and never catch up? At what point is this not acceptable?  I realize that there are grade level standards but these are conversations we need to consider to meet our students needs.  

And finally, technology continues to evolve and provide more flexible paths for learners.  Does having content online help our struggling learners by giving them 24/7 access to their teacher?  What technologies provide flexible paths to content?  NewsELA is an example of a website that allows learners to read current events at their reading levels.  

How will we respond when some students already know it?

Designing for the edges not only supports our struggling learners, but also supports the learners who already understand the curriculum.  Essentially,  I see 2 options.  

First option – provide opportunities for students to go deeper with the learning. Technology that taps into student creativity can be fun!  (Enrichment worksheets are not fun)   It’s time to let our students creativity shine!  How do we continue to allow student to go up the blooms ladder?  Can we connect learning to making? Can students design something  they are passionate about?  Maybe they like art, or music, or basketball.  Is there anyway to tie the learning targets to their passions?  Maybe you give students a couple of options, and also allow a “Create your own path” type learning activity/assessment.  Students would need to present their ideas to you and there may need to be some sort of negotiation to determine if that idea is valid.  As I think of innovation – this is the cream of the crop – our students as innovators by implementing original ideas to meet learning goals!    

Option two – Let them move on to the next lesson/unit.  This is one area where blended learning can be of service to teachers and students and allow students to get through the content at their pace (which is much faster than those who struggle).  So what happens if you have students that get through the content quite quickly?  Is there an opportunity for a genius hour type project?   Or maybe there is another path for students to connect their learning to the real life experiences mentioned in question 1?  

So what are your thoughts?  Is innovation with PLCs a viable option?  What ideas do you have to bring innovation to scale in your schools?  What innovative ideas can you share aligned to any (or all) of the 4 PLC questions?

So you’re looking/hiring for a tech job?

Today I had an opportunity to attend a coaching seminar with Rick Olson – Don’t Just Manage – Coach.  While doing so I had an opportunity to reflect on how we hire and coach technology support in our school districts and possible improvements to the process.  While I am going to focus on hiring tech support – I believe the ideas in this post could be beneficial for hiring anyone with in an organization.

Hire Wisely

“Hire attitude – train skill.”  This is a statement I have heard quite often and am becoming a bigger believer in it.  I believe the look for’s for Fixed/Growth mindset are critical here so we need to be sure to ask questions during the hiring process that will allude to this.  While I realize there is a certain level of expertise that comes with the job of technology support – I would much rather hire a technician that might be lacking experience in a skill or two if they have the attitude and drive to improve their skills.  Having someone completely skilled – with a cruddy attitude – is not going to do your school or department any good.  Negativity and doubt can weigh heavily on a system.  If you are a tech, and are looking at getting a job – be sure you update yourself on the topic – and Carol Dweck’s book Mindset.  But, just don’t bring it to the interview and then wallow back into a fixed mindset when you are done – – – you need to start living it.

I also have two other takeaways for  hiring great staff.  Do phone interviews first.  This may eliminate wasteful time at an actual face to face meeting. We have been there – the paperwork looks awesome, but the actual person isnt a good fit after the first 2 questions.   You should be able to get a sense of attitude from the phone call. I also think it is a great way to find good people who’s skills might be missing in a few areas.  Maybe you have a couple of people on the fence – this may be an opportunity to learn from them a little more and if the attitude is there-  give them a shot!   The other idea was one that was shared from the audience.  Send the interviewees a scenario and have them ready to talk about it at the interview.  While they can google all they want – provide an opportunity for those critical thinking skills to shine during the interview process.

 

Are you a coach or a boss?

Are you a coach or a boss? Image Credit – http://insidehrdq.com/

Develop our people

This does mean that we need to think about having opportunities to develop our tech support. Do you have a career advancement process in place? Could this bring better more talented candidates to your table?  When your ready to hire and the notice goes out – is opportunities for advancement/growth listed?   I often think of Dan Pink’s book Drive.  The 3 big things that lead to motivation in the workplace are incredibly intrinsic =  autonomy, purpose, and mastery.  I think the first 2  – should be fairly easy to relate to techs and tech support. We need techs that can create solutions to problems and tech support is our purpose.  (we also need to highlight customer support is our purpose as well)  But – mastery may be one area that is a little blurred in our districts.  Gone are the days -”I want to work for a system and stay there and stay at the same level for 30 years.”  Are there opportunities for advancement/growth within your district?  Some of the things I have been tooling is the idea of certifications and advancement. Maybe we need to start investing in our techs and provide them with the skills they need to do the job.  Most other businesses in the world do this, do we need to create the same opportunities for our staff too?  How often do your techs submit for staff development funds? How often do you plan the actual development for your support staff? Has your techs created a learning network outside of your district? How about a PLN?  I also have to highlight we also need to be a learning organization. Not all learning has to come from external resources – are there opportunities for our staff to go above and beyond the job description? Do we recognize and honor that work as well?

If attitude is everything - what does your say about you?

Image credit – msmoem.com

What do YOU bring to the table? How do you impact your team?

One of the things that Rick shared today is that our staff are boss watchers.  If we want good customer support – we need to model the same things with our staff.   We set the pace of attitude.  If you’re having a bad day (we all do) be careful how you portray that attitude to your staff. If we really value customer service, we need to model it even when the conditions are tough.

Are you empowering your team to help with the problems you face?  Change that is done to people is  more difficult than change where people have a voice in the solution.  How often do your reach to your team to create solutions? How often are you listening to them for problems?  One of the big takeaways from today is that we have be like coaches.  Many times that means asking questions rather than giving blanket statements. We also have to be open to the answers we received – it might be difficult to take but if you have a growth mindset you need to embrace that feedback to make your department better.

 

What strategies do you apply to develop a top notch technology team?  I’d love your feedback!

What if?

I have been participating in #ossemooc Innovator’s Mindset book study.  This week’s blog hop challenge asks us to ask ourselves what if?  SO, I decided to play along.  Below are some blue sky questions that may or may not challenge the status quo of school.  I will be honest  – its this kind of stuff that “trips my professional trigger”.   Collaboratively coming up with solutions  to the questions below (and having the time and resources to act on them) would be a professional dream.

 

#ossemooc What If Challenge

#ossemooc What If Challenge

  1. What if the Carnegie unit disappeared from schools?
  2. What if student schedules were interdisciplinary and personalized according to their needs?
  3. What if we focused less on “what you know” and more on “what you can do to improve the world with what you know”?
  4. What if learning experiences outside of school, could be used to meet standards inside of school?
  5. What if our communities had a vested and shared interest in the success of our students and meaningful partnerships  were created to fully leveraged for maximum impact on student learning?
  6. What if higher ed partnered with k12 schools in teacher prep programs?
  7. What if learners had more significant and meaningful input into their educational experience?
  8. What if every educator was connected to a PLC (f2f) and a PLN (digital)?
  9. What if every student was connected to a PLC (f2f) and a PLN (digital)?
  10. What if “Assessment As Learning” trumped “Assessment OF learning”?
  11. What if schools were held accountable by holistic measures… not just standardized tests?
  12. What if every student, that graduated from high school, had significant resume worthy job experiences including internships, community reviewed business plans,  patents, and published work?
  13. What if every student  could articulate their human potential?
  14. What if we had time to ask with students, teachers, administration, board, parents, and community to ask…..What if – to help redefine what school is for?
  15. And more importantly…. What if we had time and resources  to  create solutions and act on those “What if’s”?

So there you have it!  What did I miss? What are your What if’s?  

STOP STEALING DREAMS: Seth Godin (16:57)

 

School vs Learning by George Couros - Sketchnote by Sylvia Duckworth

School vs Learning by George Couros – Sketchnote by Sylvia Duckworth

Is this a breakthrough idea?

Disclaimer: This blog post is just an idea.  It is nothing that has been shared with anyone in the district.  It is nothing that is even “in the works”.  Several factors in the past 2 weeks have contributed to this idea and even the idea of blogging about it.

  1. One of my grad student’s (@JG0005) blog post called Exposed that shares her thoughts about transparency at the beginning stages of a teaching idea and early implementation phases.  This post is a front end idea.
  2. Innovator’s Mindset Mooc discussion – A discussion about Inquiry based PD with George Couros (@gcouros) (2/15/16)
  3. School discussions about what PD will look like next year.  
  4. A Google Hangout with Scott Mcleod (@mcleod)  discussing Trudacot (2/17/16)
  5. A BAM Radio show interview with Brad Gustafson (@GustafsonBrad) and Ben Gilpin (@benjamingilpin) around creativity in learning/teaching (2/18/16) – My takeaway thought – What are the enablers of innovative teaching?  Does innovative teaching lead to creative learning?
  6. Our district strategic plan
  7. Reflections from chapters 4 – 6 Innovator’s Mindset book. 
  8. iPad/21st Century Feedback surveys – We have a good baseline.  Its time to start acting on the things that matter to us.
  9. Observations of current grad class – Connected Educator Connected Classroom.  First round of lesson plans have come in – and I am super excited from what is being shared. Amazing stuff in development. 
  10. Reflections of BearsPD.com – This week at the elementary, I was excited to hear that some of the teachers implemented some of the ideas (with great success!)shared at previous sessions. I find these short conversations (½ hour or so) is enough for some teachers to have an idea and implement.  (reports of both student engagement and observation of teacher engagement).

 

Image Credit – https://ahussam.wordpress.com/2015/05/31/think-different/

Breakthrough Idea – Teacher/Admin Genius Hour

Image Credit – http://lisatilmon.blogspot.com/2014/02/genius-hour-for-teachers.html

Big  Idea – Consider  Teacher Genius hour as a model of PD.   (Maybe Admin Genius hour too? – would love seeing administrators model ways they are being innovative – including this tech director)

Genius hour is a movement that allows students to explore their own passions and encourages creativity in the classroom. It provides students a choice in what they learn during a set period of time during school. (www.geniushour.com/what-is-geniushour/)

 

Driving Questions

  1. What effects does innovative teaching have on learners? (engagement, achievement, skills ect)
  2. Are we delivering on the vision and ALL priorities of our strategic plan?
  3. How do we move from pockets of Innovation to fostering cultures of innovation/learning?
  4. How do we give teachers ownership of PD and honor/celebrate their work?
  5. What opportunities does a  personalized inquiry based PD bring to our district?
  6. How can we creatively tackle roadblocks that get in our way?
  7. How do we empower all of our staff to take risks?
  8. Would modeling self directed learning at all levels in an organization lead to more opportunities of self directed learning for students?

 

Here are a few things that I know about PD.

  • In the book Drive, Daniel Pink shares that employee engagement today relies heavily on 3 things. Autonomy, Purpose, and Mastery.  
  • The best PD is pd that is embedded in the school day.  In a recent district survey, the number one barrier to effective use of technology is time (27%).  
  • The best PD is not a 1 and done, but something that is continually supported and followed up on a regular basis.
  • Learning is not just passively listening to a presenter’s lecture at a workshop, but an applied understanding of an idea/concept into the classroom and reflecting/presenting the results the experience.

 

First run…. A potential plan – Draft Draft Draft!

  • Kick of the event with PD time to explore the topics in @mcleod’s and @jgraber Trudacot lesson design tool.  There could be others but I really like the focus on students and deep relevant learning.
  • Teachers pitch ideas.  Either they create a new lesson or re-design an existing lesson that is improved “significantly” based on Trudacot topics to engage learners and deepen learning.  Maybe do a critical friends session.  The end result – must have a positive impact student learning in some way.  
  • Teacher ideas can be collaborative (seeking partners or team events) or independent.  Would love to see teachers collaborating across the disciplines
  • Decision is solidified, and teachers create an action plan
  • Create mini workshops or coaching sessions based on teacher needs to complete goals.  
  • Planning process is documented/journaled/or blogged along the way.
  • Teachers implement action plan/lesson idea into the classroom.
  • Teachers collect evidence and reflect on the process
  • Teachers (and maybe students too?) present their findings science fair style.  Or I am  thinking it would be cool to have a Ted Talk style presentation – short and sweet – 5-7 minutes tops.  Maybe Pecha Kucha Style?
  • Would love to invite the community to this event.  Maybe even other districts.  I consider this a celebration of the work of our Teachers AND an opportunity to share ideas to others in hopes it generates more ideas and action to try something.

 

ROADBLOCKS and “Yeah Buts” to overcome

I don’t have time for this.  I get this.  We need time and time needs to built into our system.   My dream would be time each week (just like a true Genius Hour project) to be dedicated each week.  However, ½ days every 2 weeks might work or  even 1 day per month.  If we do not have calendar time to support this idea, I do not believe we can have “systemic” success.   Can this be revised? Absolutely – but I am just sharing my “dream scenario” at this point.

Accountability. What about those who do nothing?  In my mind, most teachers would love an opportunity to have time to focus on creative lesson planning/mini action research – However, we know there will be some who will try to get by with as little as possible.  I do think a presentation expectation in front of peers, school board, community – could eliminate this factor….

We don’t know if it will work.  Lets face it.  There are many things we do NOW that do not work.  We have spent many dollars in PD that has been ineffective.  In my opinion, This has all of the makings of success.  The timing is right.  The focus on learning experiences is perfect.  What is the worst thing that could happen? We need breakthrough ideas and we need an avenue to share them and celebrate them!

But some people are more innovative than me.  Some people will make me look bad.  OK – this is a big BIG mindset issue.  We should celebrate everyone’s wins no matter where they are.  The only thing that would look bad is if you do NOTHING. Then that would be on you.

But what if my results are not good?  This idea is about an innovation journey. It’s about failing forward.   Even if results are not as great as one would wish – did you learn and grow along the way?  Even though the results were not as good as you wished – would there be things that you could “tweak” to make results even better.  There may be opportunity for feedback from peers – that could make the product so much better.

So there you have it!  – As this is at an infancy stage right now – there are plenty of opportunities for improvement.  But I do believe going down this path could be inspiring.  I think the creative ideas and innovative actions of our teachers can better define our future at BPS!

So what do you think… Is this a breakthrough idea?  Have feedback? I would lOVE to hear from you!

Image Credit – http://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/01/is-this-what-it-takes-to-be-an-innovative-leader/

Innovation: A parent’s perspective

I want to take some time to cross post my thoughts from a Voxer post/discussion in the #OSSEMOOC Innovator’s Mindset group.  The conversation really hit home for me – not just as an educator that works in a school system – but as a parent.

My Story. My youngest is a senior this year in a high school, outside of the one I work for,  and is enrolled as a PSEO student in a local community college.  We have had many college discussions. He knows college is the “right thing” to do.  But, he really is unsure of what he wants to go into to.  He is a good student. He gets decent grades, and decent test scores. He knows how to “play school” very well.  He has been accepted to a 4 year state university and plans to attend this next fall.

The problem.   My son has had ZERO self directed authentic learning experiences (in school) that would connect him (and his learning) to any type of career.  ZERO.   He does enjoy his PSEO classes, as I have observed more critical thinking than his HS courses.  But the relevance of what he is learning is still missing.  He simply continues to “play school”.

Within our discussions of college  – we also need to discuss the considerable amount  of debt that will accrue over the next 4 years. The college he has chosen, estimates tuition and housing to run over $17,000 per year.    He has interests but still is not sure.  So, does he go to college undecided? Or does he wait until he knows what he wants to do?   Lets look at the odds.

  1. There is a chance he won’t make it past year 1 of college.   1 in 3 students will not make it to sophomore year.
  2. There is no guarantee of a career in his major of choice after college.  Only 27% of College grads have jobs within their major
  3. And IF he is successful, and graduates with a degree – he will have significant debt. Rates in 2013 say the average was $30,000 – I am doing some calculations and guessing this will be much more for my son. More likely doubled or more.

Consider the changing paradigms of “School” as we know it. (Video below)


Changing Paradigms – Based on Sir Ken Ted Talk

 

What student-centered innovation looks like today. Innovation that is TRULY student-centered can lead to potential careers.  There are a couple of times, within the school I work for,  I have been able to interview our high school students in courses that teachers allowed significant choice and voice in authentic learning.  In both of the examples below – the courses were designed on Hybrid days – where there was blocks of time where students would not need to “report” to class.

Example 1 – In @RyanRadke316 ‘s  child development class, genius hour project where students are able to freely choose a topic of research under child development AND use hybrid days to either go and interview experts in the field and observe the job in action.  One student, after a personal experience, wanted to further study post traumatic stress disorder.  This student was able to use their hybrid days to interview local child psychologists about the topic.  They were able to tour the facility and discuss specific topics about supporting the patients and the job in general.  When I interviewed this student – this experience sealed the deal and they made the decision to enroll in a psychology major in the next fall.

Example 2 – In @rockychat3′s stats class – students had an opportunity to freely study statistics outside of the traditional classroom during hybrid days.  I happened to interview two students who decided to put their stats knowledge to work with a current passion – and analyze basketball stats.  They poured over the data, analyzed, summarized  and would eventually share their findings.  Both girls shared that they did not realize that Math was “Everywhere” and this stats class had opened their eyes to the application of Math.  And one student, shared she would be pursuing a degree in statistics – specifically  sports analytics in the fall.

Not all open ended, student centered, student directed authentic classroom experiences  are going to lead to a career decision. But I can guarantee – interest/decisions in careers are more likely to happen when students have relevant real world learning experiences vs. reading about it in a book, watching a video about it, or practicing fictitious scenarios/problems on paper.

A few weeks ago, I was at a personalized learning summit in January.  Part of the summit included watching a movie called Beyond Measure.   One of the people, int he moview,  said it best when explaining our education system today relating to baseball.

“If learning baseball was like our current education system players would learn about baseball in high school, would create a play about baseball in college, and wouldn’t get in the game until graduate school. “

Questions to consider. Politicians want innovative schools and cry REFORM REFORM REFORM yet still hold schools accountable by test scores. Standards are a mile wide and can be very difficult to go deep with them.  Not to mention – are still organized by “grade levels”. School systems  in public schools still continue to work under a belief system where seat time = learning. And in Minnesota – the Carnegie unit is still king.  At some point, shouldn’t we  recognize EVERY student’s passions and talents? Shouldn’t we give plenty of student directed, authentic experiences in our classes that could spark new passions, talents, and career interests?  Sure we want them to be great readers. We want want them to be great mathematicians. But -so often the way we try to raise their scores is doing the same thing that doesn’t work in the first place. (Just more of it that kills the love of learning). When do we start working on the student’s personal genius, whether it be art, or music, or programming, or carpentry or “Fill in the blank” to land a potential career?

Image credit – career.uconn.edu

What student-centered innovation could look like tomorrow (Warning – idea alert). An interesting and extremely innovative highered idea is the Gap Year. http://uncollege.org/gap-year/ Where students “Take control of their learning” Its an interesting concept and to tell you the truth – would be an awesome senior year opportunity. I know – people may look at this idea and think/say, Ya But, Ya But, Ya But.  And we will find many roadblocks and many obstacles make ideas seem unrealistic.  Should obstacles stand in the way of what is best for kids?

What can parents do? So parents (aka voters and tax payers) when it comes to innovation in education your voice needs to be heard too.  Don’t settle for Ya but. Things are changing quite rapidly in the world of education and more importantly the world of employment.  Even though you have a 13 year internship on how school is done – you need to educate yourself.  When a college and is determined, make sure there are plenty of real world experiences within the core of the school work too.  Politicians need to hear you, as do our  school boards and schools.  Our kids need community members with strong voices and even better –  potential career connections and learning experiences.