Leadership for Deeper Learning: Excerpt 03

Leadership for Deeper Learning[To celebrate our upcoming book, Leadership for Deeper Learning, I am publishing an excerpt each day for a week before its release. We interviewed leaders at 30 different ‘deeper learning’ schools around the world in 2019 and 2020. We then followed up those interviews with site visits, observations, on-site photographs and videos, and additional conversations. Our goal was to try and parse out What do leaders at innovative schools do that is different from their counterparts in more traditional schools? As you might imagine, we saw some fantastic leading, teaching, and learning. We describe what we saw in detail in the new book and, in Chapter 7, articulate a Profile of a Deeper Learning Leader that’s based on empirical research, not just anecdotes. We think that this book makes a unique contribution to what we know about leadership in deeper learning schools. The book is written for a practitioner audience and is full of concrete, specific examples to get folks thinking about possibilities. Also, every main chapter concludes with Key Leadership Behaviors and Support Structures. If you order it, let me know what you think!]

Excerpt 03

We love the journey that Skyline High has traveled because it’s a story of school turnaround success, student redemption, and hope. Heidi told us during our visit:

People thought we would shut down. You know, we just weren’t known for anything that was really good. And we’ve completely turned around the culture of our building. We’ve completely turned around the impression of our community about Skyline High School. But we’re still serving all of the same kids. We’re still serving our underrepresented populations, our free and reduced lunch kids, our second language learners.

The general impression of Skyline over the last twelve years has completely changed. Realtors were literally telling people not to move into our area. Because you didn’t want to go to that high school and those feeder schools. And now realtors are saying, “You should go there because of the programs. And you should stay in your area because of this.” Fewer kids are choosing to open enroll out. They’re starting to stay here in our home area. We’re back to being the biggest high school in the district. So people want to stay here, but we’re also serving our community.

Parents are grateful. They’re excited about what’s going on at Skyline. I think for the most part they really trust us to do what’s best for their kids. I talk to parents at open houses that say, “Hey, my kid’s coming here but when they were six, there was no way I was going to send them to your school.” And now they say, “I’m really excited for my kid to come here.”

Every student and family deserves a chance to authentically say, “I’m really excited to come here every day.” At the schools that we profile in this book, educators are doing everything that they can to fulfill this promise to their families and communities.

Leadership for Deeper Learning, Chapter 3

 

Leadership for Deeper Learning: Excerpt 02

Leadership for Deeper Learning[To celebrate our upcoming book, Leadership for Deeper Learning, I am publishing an excerpt each day for a week before its release. We interviewed leaders at 30 different ‘deeper learning’ schools around the world in 2019 and 2020. We then followed up those interviews with site visits, observations, on-site photographs and videos, and additional conversations. Our goal was to try and parse out What do leaders at innovative schools do that is different from their counterparts in more traditional schools? As you might imagine, we saw some fantastic leading, teaching, and learning. We describe what we saw in detail in the new book and, in Chapter 7, articulate a Profile of a Deeper Learning Leader that’s based on empirical research, not just anecdotes. We think that this book makes a unique contribution to what we know about leadership in deeper learning schools. The book is written for a practitioner audience and is full of concrete, specific examples to get folks thinking about possibilities. Also, every main chapter concludes with Key Leadership Behaviors and Support Structures. If you order it, let me know what you think!]

Excerpt 02

Innovation is iterative, of course. Leaders and schools don’t just launch new initiatives and then coast. One Stone is a prime example of iterative innovation, where each subsequent cycle broke away from the previous norm just a little bit more. One Stone started as an after-school, experiential service program that was serving around 200 students from 15 different schools. The leaders realized that kids were leaving school, coming to One Stone, and staying up until 10:00pm every night working on projects. During those early years, students would say things like, “Why can’t we just do this all day?” and “Why can’t this be learning? I do more learning here than I do at school.”

In true student-driven form, the leaders of One Stone kicked off a 24-hour ‘think challenge’ at an indoor arena at Boise State University. The event drew 150 students and also included a number of professionals from the worlds of education, research, and business entrepreneurship. The group spent 24 hours together focusing on how education could be reimagined. Smaller think tanks within the group each worked on the concept of “How might we reimagine education?” Through this process, everyone came to realize that the education students experienced in more traditional schools was not relevant to them, both in the present and in regard to where they wanted to go. Students struggled to connect their learning at their local high schools with what they needed out in the real world.

This notion of creating a new school based on relevance and purpose led to One Stone’s guiding principles, which the school affectionately calls ‘the Blob,’ or Bold Learning OBjectives. When discussing One Stone’s curriculum, the leaders described how they don’t necessarily have one. What they do have, however, are learning objectives that focus on mindset, creativity, knowledge, and skills. A crucial aspect of the Blob is the idea of failing forward. Chad, the director of research and design, talked to us about how getting students to fail forward is a huge challenge because students have been in the performance zone for the first eight or so years of their lives: “Everything students do [in traditional schools] counts as a score. Students are constantly being evaluated. Students are not necessarily challenged to take risks intellectually, academically, whatever it might be.”

Leadership for Deeper Learning, Chapter 2

 

Leadership for Deeper Learning: Excerpt 01

Leadership for Deeper Learning[To celebrate our upcoming book, Leadership for Deeper Learning, I am publishing an excerpt each day for a week before its release. We interviewed leaders at 30 different ‘deeper learning’ schools around the world in 2019 and 2020. We then followed up those interviews with site visits, observations, on-site photographs and videos, and additional conversations. Our goal was to try and parse out What do leaders at innovative schools do that is different from their counterparts in more traditional schools? As you might imagine, we saw some fantastic leading, teaching, and learning. We describe what we saw in detail in the new book and, in Chapter 7, articulate a Profile of a Deeper Learning Leader that’s based on empirical research, not just anecdotes. We think that this book makes a unique contribution to what we know about leadership in deeper learning schools. The book is written for a practitioner audience and is full of concrete, specific examples to get folks thinking about possibilities. Also, every main chapter concludes with Key Leadership Behaviors and Support Structures. If you order it, let me know what you think!]

Excerpt 01

Contemporary school innovators are proceeding along pathways that are simultaneously both new and familiar. As demands for standardization begin to recede and schools gradually recognize that the demands of a global innovation society are different from those of the previous century, they are beginning to embrace many of the progressive, constructivist, and personalized approaches long espoused by educational giants such as Jean Piaget, John Dewey, and Seymour Papert. While these well-known names serve as anchors for the shared philosophies that undergird the work, each school community iterates and implements in its own way. These contextual innovations and support structures lend local flavor and provide the details necessary to transform larger ideals into successful practices. Concurrent advances in communication and collaboration technologies also enhance school leaders’ ability to learn more quickly and easily from other innovators.

The details of these modern upgrades of schooling are not emerging by chance. They are purposeful responses to the incongruities that are inherent as we try to map a historical and analog model of learning and teaching to the challenges of today’s technology-suffused, global society. These school structures and leadership behaviors have emerged from thousands of community conversations and global dialogues about college- and career-readiness, enhanced life success, and more holistic understandings of desired learner outcomes. As schools shift toward new student and graduate profiles , they challenge and reform core structures of the traditional, standardized school model. They allocate time differently, pilot model classrooms, offer new choices to families, adjust underlying policies, and engage in a multitude of other changes that substantially transform schools.

The book that you are holding is about the brave souls who are at the heart of this innovative work. At the root of every one of these transforming schools are courageous individuals who are leading the change. They are discontent with the status quo and are willing to rethink fundamental concepts of schooling. They are remarkable school leaders who are attempting to navigate massively-complex challenges, implement more humanistic ideals of schooling, and chart a path out of the era of standardization. These leaders are working heroically to empower children and educators and secure a brighter future for schools and communities.

Leadership for Deeper Learning, Chapter 1

4 great questions about new teacher onboarding

WelcomeHere are 4 great questions from my principal licensure students about how we do new teacher onboarding in our schools and districts:

  • Has no one asked new hires what could be done differently to make them feel more welcomed and comfortable? Why are we not spending more money on keeping the people we have hired? There have got to be other areas we can cut back to make this better. We know relationships are key. Why is our focus more on other things the first few days? Why not relationships? How can we make a shift and change in culture surrounding onboarding so that new hires do not just get the illusion of being welcomed but truly feel it, not just in the district but in the school as well?
  • I wonder how principals stay in touch with the growing demands put on teachers? Many of the principals and leaders with whom I have worked have not been classroom teachers in over ten years. There is a disconnect between the reality of the day to day classroom routines and expectations for teachers today and even five and definitely ten years ago. I am starting to see that the expectations put on administrators is growing at the same rate as teacher responsibilities, however this added stress on both sides seems to create more of a divide than a shared understanding. I am wondering how administrators and evaluators can stay connected to the demands on teachers in order to properly mentor and coach them?
  • I am curious to learn about ideas and strategies to best support teachers new to the district but not brand new to the profession? We want to honor their expertise and years of experience while ensuring that they are meeting our district’s expectations. In many cases but not all, it can be difficult to coach veteran teachers on best practices because of their experiences, whereas new teachers embrace feedback with open arms.
  • Based on my experience in the last several years having opted to switch schools several times, it doesn’t seem that a principal is very engaged in an onboarding plan for new teachers. I wonder about a genuine, real life example of a principal who is hands on with the onboarding process. Does this mystery principal exist? I want to know that implementing a plan such as this is realistic and not just rooted in best practices that rarely get implemented.

Thoughts on any of these?

Image credit: Welcome, Krissy Venosdale

2 hours, up to 200 people, 1 low price

2 hours... up to 200 people... 1 low price. #4Shifts Protocol PD.[Trying something new here…]

The 4 Shifts Protocol is taking off in schools around the world. We’ve got tens of thousands of educators already using it for instructional redesign. Schools who are trying to focus on deeper learning, greater student agency, more authentic work, and rich technology infusion are finding the protocol to be helpful in their efforts. Our book, Harnessing Technology for Deeper Learning, introduces the protocol, has some lesson redesign examples, and includes some tips and strategies. However, some schools and educators are looking for more interactive professional development.

As we attempt to innovate out of the pandemic and create some new opportunities for students, let’s see if this will be of help:

     2 hours… up to 200 people… for $1,000 (USD).

Online synchronous only. U.S. schools only (for now). Between the hours of 8:00am and 5:00pm Mountain time (currently GMT-6). No pricing per person and no travel costs! I will provide a quick overview of the protocol, we will redesign two or three lessons together in small groups, I will field questions and concerns, and we will conclude with some suggestions and strategies for usage in your local setting.

Interested? . We’ll find a date and time and I’ll send you the Zoom link. It’s that easy.

And of course we can customize this. For instance, we could do:

  • 1 introductory session for teachers (got a group of innovators?)
  • 1 introductory session for administrators
  • 1 or 2 follow-up sessions to go deeper (e.g., with your own lessons and/or around instructional coaching)

Or we could do:

  • 1 introductory session for elementary school(s)
  • 1 introductory session for middle school(s)
  • 1 introductory session for high school(s)
  • 1 introductory session for instructional / technology coaches and principals
  • 1 or 2 follow-up sessions to go deeper (e.g., with your own lessons and/or around instructional coaching)

Or we could do:

  • 1 session on Section A, Deeper Thinking and Learning
  • 1 session on Section B, Authentic Work
  • 1 session on Section C, Student Agency and Personalization
  • 1 session on Section D, Technology Infusion
  • 1 session with examples of what this looks like in other schools
  • 1 or 2 follow-up sessions to go deeper (e.g., with your own lessons and/or around instructional coaching)

Or whatever else makes sense for you…

. Satisfaction guaranteed. Hope this helps!