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The achievement gap v. the relevance gap

Future Wise, David Perkins

David Perkins said:

What did you learn during your first twelve years of education that matters in your life today?

The achievement gap asks, “Are students achieving X?” whereas the relevance gap asks, “Is X going to matter to the lives learners are likely to live?”

If X is good mastery of reading and writing, both questions earn a big yes! Skilled, fluent, and engaged reading and writing marks both a challenging gap and a high-payoff attainment. That knowledge goes somewhere! However, if X is quadratic equations, the answers don’t match. Mastering quadratic equations is challenging, but these equations are not so lifeworthy. Now fill in X with any of the thousands of topics that make up the typical content curriculum. Very often, these topics present significant challenges of achievement but with little return on investment in learners’ lives.

Here’s the problem: the achievement gap is much more concerned with mastering content than with providing lifeworthy content.

The achievement gap is all about doing the same thing better. . .  the relevance gap asks us to reconsider deeply what schools teach in the first place.

via Future Wise, Chapters 1 and 2

Hat tip: Mike Crowley

We don’t question the dentist’s new ways of doing things

Dental x-ray machine

Mike Crowley said:

many of us cling to the certainties of the way we were educated ourselves as “the right way” to do so. Any deviation from the tried and trusted can elicit nervousness and uncertainty, especially – and unsurprisingly – from parents. Our faith in the tried and the trusted is a little bit like holding onto the handrails in the deep end of a swimming pool. When schools suggest that the depth of experience is more vital than just skimming the surface, we are looked at sceptically. The same does not happen with other professions, of which we seem to be far more trusting. I went to my dentist recently in a lot of pain. He suspected my problem was sinusitis and pointed out that he had just invested in a hi-tech system that used a high resonance 3D imaging model to offer a visual understanding of the nature of pain itself. Did I resist this innovation? Question the use of this new technology? Ask if he knew what he was doing? Suggest that this is not what my dentist would have done in 1976? No, of course not. This only happens in schools.

via http://crowleym.com/2015/02/07/lifeworthy-learning-close-encounters-of-the-third-kind

Image credit: Dental xray machine, Diana Beideman

School Visibility Initiative: 10-day update

I posted about our new School Visibility Initiative ten days ago. To date we have 43 participating school organizations, about half from Iowa and half from around the world. We’ve got 17 unique states and countries so far and, yep, I think that’s pretty cool…

Week 3 challenges will go out this Friday!

A new resource for school administrators: Digital Leadership Daily

Digital Leadership Daily Photo

As part of my never-ending quest to help school administrators with the complex transitions and transformations that accompany digital learning tools and environments, I am unveiling a new resource today…

Digital Leadership Daily. One digital school leadership reading or resource per day, tweeted, texted to your phone, and posted to Facebook.

Text @dldaily to 81010 to sign up

twitter.com/digleaddaily

facebook.com/digitalleadershipdaily

Since it’s just one thing per day, hopefully this will be a low-pain entry point for school leaders who want to learn and grow in this area. Thanks to Eric Sheninger for allowing me to riff off the title of his excellent book, Digital Leadership.

Please share with the school leaders in your area. I don’t think it can get any easier to learn than this… Thanks!

Update: School Visibility Initiative

PLAEA Logo Web

Earlier this week I announced our School Visibility Initiative. Challenges for Week 2 (February 9 – 15) have been sent out and, as of this morning, we have 35 different school organizations participating from 14 different states and countries. Awesome!

We are asking participants to send us URLs of their success meeting the challenges so hopefully we’ll have some to share soon…

Want to learn more (and maybe sign up)?

Oblivious to organizations, systems, and high quality leadership

Leslie Wilson said:

On one hand, [school administrators] have entered this century keen on improving non-performing schools, knowing the moral imperative of students’ using technologies, personalizing learning, and seeking to comply with state and federal mandates. What amazes me is that at the same time they ‘lead’ as though they are oblivious to current research and best practices regarding organizations, systems, and high quality leadership. How to help them? That’s what my colleagues and I are grappling with.

via http://www.k12blueprint.com/content/peel-back-onion-organize-success

Join our School Visibility Initiative

Prairie Lakes Area Education Agency logo

 

[This is open to everyone, not just schools in our region!]

Every day AWESOME things happen in your schools. Are you telling the world?

Is your school using social media to best effect?

Are you learning from other school leaders about how to amplify your message and share your stories?

Are your communication platforms enhancing your institutional branding, educating policymakers, and building community enthusiasm for future initiatives?

Maybe it’s time to join Prairie Lakes Area Education Agency’s SCHOOL VISIBILITY INITIATIVE!

Participants will receive

  • coaching on selection of communication platforms and social media channels,
  • exposure to best practices and innovative communication ideas from around the world,
  • advice on how to set up a student media team to help with institutional storytelling,
  • weekly challenges that will push your communication to new heights,
  • and much, much more!

If you’re ready to sign up, complete the online form to receive weekly challenges and helpful resources. Challenges begin immediately and you can see the archive of past challenges.

Don’t hesitate to get in touch as you have questions!

It’s about opening a door to someone I never knew I could be

Open door

Javier Guzman said:

For my students and the thousands like them, the options they are given are inadequate. The bar is set low and little is expected of them. Mostly they are taught to regurgitate information at breakneck speeds under the guise of equity and the achievement gap. We need to move away from that and build schools that consider the whole person, that understand that our students have passions and interests, and that give them the tools to transcend their environments.

It’s about being given the tools to truly reach one’s full potential. . . . as one of my students stated, “It’s about opening a door to someone I never knew I could be.”

via https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lH1gxIT4nSE

Image credit: Open door, Martin Müller

The challenges of digital leadership

National Association of Independent Schools logo

I wrote an article for the National Association of Independent Schools on the challenges of digital leadership. Here are a few quotes to whet your appetite!

Schools often purchase software, computer devices, and technology-based learning systems because they are effective marketing tools for recruitment, or because they want to keep pace with the digital investments of rival institutions, or simply because they fear appearing outdated. None of these have to do with learning, of course, and inevitably are insufficient to smooth over the challenges that arise as digital tools enter classroom spaces. 

AND

Too often, when navigating faculty or parental resistance, school leaders and technology staff make reassurances that things will not have to change much in the classroom or that slow baby steps are OK. Unfortunately, this results in a different problem, which is that schools have now invested significant money, time, and energy into digital technologies but are using them sparingly and seeing little impact. In such schools, replicative uses of technology are quite common, but transformative uses that leverage the unique affordances of technology are quite rare.

AND

As school leaders, in order to achieve the types of successes that we hope for with technology, we will have to overbalance for our staff and parents the side of the scale that contains fears and concerns with countervailing, emotionally resonant stories, images, visions, and examples of empowered students and teachers doing amazing things. That’s fairly hard to do if we’re technology-hesitant or unknowledgeable about the educative value of technology ourselves, which is why so many successful digital leaders preach over and over again the necessity of personal engagement and modeling.

Happy reading!

The best way to complain

 

A photo posted by Paul Octavious (@pauloctavious) onJan 3, 2015 at 5:47am PST

The best way to complain is to make things – James Murphy

Photo from Paul Octavious

#makeitbetter

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