Tag Archives: leadership

Coronavirus Chronicles 005 – Mabel Rush Elementary School

I am talking with schools to see how they’re responding in the wake of this global pandemic. I invite you to join me for the Coronavirus Chronicles, a series of 10-minute check-ins with educators all over.

Episode 005 is below. Thank you, Tim Lauer, for sharing how Mabel Rush Elementary School in Newberg, Oregon is adapting to our new challenges and opportunities.

If you and your school(s) would like to be featured in the Coronavirus Chronicles series, get in touch!

See also the complete list of episodes.

Coronavirus Chronicles 004 – CCSD 59

I am talking with schools to see how they’re responding in the wake of this global pandemic. I invite you to join me for the Coronavirus Chronicles, a series of 10-minute check-ins with educators all over.

Episode 004 is below. Thank you, Art Fessler, for sharing how Community Consolidated School District 59 in Illinois is adapting to our new challenges and opportunities.

If you and your school(s) would like to be featured in the Coronavirus Chronicles series, get in touch!

See also the complete list of episodes.

Coronavirus Chronicles 003 – Bismarck Public Schools

I am talking with schools to see how they’re responding in the wake of this global pandemic. I invite you to join me for the Coronavirus Chronicles, a series of 10-minute check-ins with educators all over.

Episode 003 is below. Thank you, Ben Johnson and Tanna Kincaid, for sharing how the Bismarck Public Schools in North Dakota have been adapting to our new reality.

If you and your school(s) would like to be featured in the Coronavirus Chronicles series, get in touch!

See also the complete list of episodes.

Coronavirus Chronicles 002 – American International School of Guangzhou

I am talking with schools to see how they’re responding in the wake of this global pandemic. I invite you to join me for the Coronavirus Chronicles, a series of 10-minute check-ins with educators all over.

Episode 002 is below. Thank you, Ruth Herrin, for sharing how the American International School of Guangzhou in China has been adapting for the past 8 weeks!

If you and your school(s) would like to be featured in the Coronavirus Chronicles series, get in touch!

See also the complete list of episodes.

Coronavirus Chronicles 001 – Greene County Public Schools

I thought it would be good to check in with schools and see how they’re responding in the wake of this global pandemic. I invite you to join me for the Coronavirus Chronicles, a series of 10-minute check-ins with educators all over. Episode 001 is below. Thank you, Dr. Andrea Whitmarsh, for sharing how the Greene County Public Schools in Virginia are mobilizing during these early days!

If you and your school(s) would like to be featured in the Coronavirus Chronicles series, get in touch!

See also the complete list of episodes.

A new adventure: Silver Lining for Learning

SLL Logo 03 copy

Today we start a new adventure!

Dr. Yong Zhao gathered a few of us professor types together last week to brainstorm some ideas around his recent blog post, What if schools are closed for more than a year due to the new coronavirus (COVID-19)? We discussed that this present challenge also is an opportunity to rethink some big ideas around learning, teaching, and schooling. As Dr. Chris Dede noted, there is a potential silver lining in all of this… As a result of that conversation, we decided to launch a new website, Silver Lining for Learning. Over the following weeks and months, look for video conversations, blog posts, and other ideas at this new site.

Video conversations will occur live every Saturday at 5:30pm Eastern (U.S.). Please visit Silver Lining for Learning for further announcements about each weekly discussion.

Our chief instigators are…

  • Yong Zhao, @yongzhaoed | Foundation Distinguished Professor, School of Education, University of Kansas; Professor in Educational Leadership, Melbourne Graduate School of Education
  • Curt Bonk, @travelinedman | Professor of Instructional Systems Technology, Indiana University
  • Chris Dede, @chrs_dede | Timothy E. Wirth Professor in Learning Technologies, Harvard Graduate School of Education
  • Scott McLeod, @mcleod | Associate Professor of Educational Leadership, University of Colorado Denver; Founding Director, CASTLE
  • Punya Mishra, @punyamishra | Professor and Associate Dean of Scholarship and Innovation, Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, Arizona State University

We are using the #silverliningforlearning hashtag as well. Hope you will join us for some good conversations!

Design for humans

Craters aheadA Washington Post article on the recent Iowa Democratic caucus fiasco states:

Every aspect of election administration should be designed around all the ways that we, as humans, fail, and all the ways technology fails us. The system needs to be set up to address the all-too-human challenges of inattention, fatigue, poor training, and even willful neglect. The technology, tools, machines, and systems must match human abilities and limitations. [emphasis added]

This is true for schools too. In what ways do we need to do better with that last sentence??

Image credit: Craters-large, Taylor Herring

Which is bigger?

Question markI started a new principal licensure cohort this spring. On the second night of class, I had an awesome discussion with a couple of high school teachers about the perpetual issue of forcing students to learn math that they likely will never use again in their life. We make most (all) students take Algebra 2, for instance, even though most of them rarely (if ever) will use that learning later. Our ‘just in case’ educational model is based on the idea that we don’t know what students will need later in life, which is in stark contrast to many of the ‘just in time’ learning opportunities now available to us if we need to gain new knowledge or acquire a new skill. Our conversation led me to this question:

  • Which is bigger? The number of students who are forced to take math that they never will need or the number of students who, given the choice in high school, might not take the math courses they will need later?

We can come up with a number of these questions, each of which has major implications for leadership behaviors and school support structures:

  • Which is bigger? The number of students who begrudgingly make their way through required world language courses (like my son) or the number of students who learn to love other languages and cultures through those classes (like my sister)?
  • Which is bigger? The number of students who are usually engaged in the learning experiences and tasks that we provide them or the number of students who are bored out of their mind?
  • Which is bigger? The number of teachers who need to turn in lesson plans because they’re struggling with instructional coherence or the number of teachers who don’t?
  • Which is bigger? The number of students who are ‘socially promoted’ despite inadequate academic skills or the number of students who are held back by poor instruction and institutional bias or inequities?
  • Which is bigger? The number of students who are truly helped by our mandated adaptive learning software system for reading or the number of students for whom it has little benefit?
  • Which is bigger? The number of parents who complain loudly about a school decision or initiative or the number of parents who are silently approving or grateful?
  • Which is bigger? The number of students who receive gifted and talented services or the number of students who are equally ready but are denied such services?
  • Which is bigger? The number of teachers who are providing robust ’Tier 1’ instruction or the number of teachers who are not?
  • Which is bigger? The number of students who use technology appropriately in school or the number of students who don’t?
  • Which is bigger? The number of students who really need us to teach this thing to them today versus the number of students who already know it?
  • Which is bigger? The number of teachers who will abuse the opportunity to create their own personalized, self-driven, professional learning opportunities or the number of teachers who will use that chance to really stretch and grow themselves as skilled educators?

And so on…

Seems like we should be making instructional, policy, and resourcing decisions based on our answers to these types of questions, right?

Please add your own ‘Which is bigger?’ scenarios in the comments!

The entrepreneurial mindset

RiskThis past weekend I participated in an event called The Entrepreneurial Mindset. The two days of learning were co-sponsored by the School of Education and Human Development and the School of Business at CU Denver. A number of SEHD faculty and staff learned about entrepreneurial practices and thinking alongside local school superintendents and other school district administrators. We heard from the Chairman of the Board of Semester at Sea, learned about the importance of emotional intelligence, did a deep dive on branding and marketing, and talked with entrepreneurs in both higher education and medicine.

Several key ideas resonated with me from our discussions. One was the idea that entrepreneurship is a mindset. It’s a willingness to take action, try things, and be resourceful. It’s a willingness to lean into the fear and welcome change. It’s a willingness to make mistakes and learn from them without being paralyzed. And it’s a willingness to focus relentlessly on the needs of the ‘consumer’ in order to improve their experience. In education, we’re not very good at many of these things. We also need to recognize as educators that entrepreneurship isn’t available to anyone who thinks of themselves as a victim. Passive, helpless mindsets don’t align very well with active, efficacious, change-oriented action.

Another key idea for me was that we have to be good problem seekers before we can be problem solvers. In education, we need more robust problem-seeking structures and behaviors that move beyond simple diagnoses of complex challenges. Otherwise we jump to ‘solutions’ that don’t address what’s really needed.

I also appreciated the reminder that value always lies in the perceptions of others. Just because we think we’re offering a good experience for others doesn’t mean that we actually are. But if we care to listen to the people we serve, they can help us improve what we do. This can be a bit challenging because educators are in it for the long haul and current ‘stakeholders’ may not see the value of some of what we’re providing until later in their lives. It’s possible, however, for us to care about both lifelong impacts and our children’s and families’ immediate experiences. I believe that is a goal worth striving for, even when we simultaneously serve multiple and sometimes conflicting stakeholder groups.

Business people use different language than we do as educators. They talk about ‘adjacent possibilities’ and ‘competitive offerings’ and ‘perceived stakeholder value.’ But at the heart of it all, their conceptions of mission-driven work and aligning that work to the needs of children, families, and communities are not that different. Yes, our children aren’t widgets and we should always critically examine the ethics and practices of any field. But it would be silly for us to pretend that the world of business has nothing to lend the world of education. If we choose not to hide in our P-12 and higher education bubbles, many of us could benefit from framing some of our work in different ways in order to accomplish our ‘job to be done,’ the critically-important job of helping the people that we serve.

In your professional life, are you entrepreneurial? What might be the benefits of such an approach?

Image credit: Risk, Sean Davis