Slide – Organize around the opportunity to contribute

2021 Difference Making 01 REVISED

“It’s ironic that a shift away from a focus on preparation (take Algebra 1 because you need it for Algebra 2, which you might need to go to college which you might need to get a job) to a focus on difference making is the best possible form of preparation for the innovation economy. A portfolio of work that demonstrates expanding contribution to causes that matter — to a young person and their community — is far more valuable to most colleges and employers than a list of courses passed.

What if, instead of a list of required courses, high school was organized around the opportunity to contribute?”

Vander Ark & Liebtag, Difference Making at the Heart of Learning, 2021 (p. 80)

 

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3 big questions to ask after a visit from an outside helper

Outside Consultant 03I’ve been blogging about bringing in outside helpers…

Here are three big questions to ask AFTER a visit from an outside helper:

  1. Are we tangibly better as a result of their visit? [or did we just waste everyone’s time?]
  2. Can we actually do something differently as a result of their visit? [or did they just take the money and run?]
  3. How do we know? [what evidence do we have?]

Great times to ask these questions include about a week after the visit (when the gloss has worn off) and also about 3 to 6 months after the visit (when the work should be well underway)…

How much of your work with outside helpers has resulted in tangible, concrete, actionable, beneficial changes in your school(s)? If not much, why is that?

ISTE Certification 01

[I decided to make some new investments in my own learning this semester. One of the ways that I’m doing that is to try and become ISTE-certified. I’ve had a longtime relationship with ISTE. When we created the nation’s first graduate program designed to prepare a technology-savvy school administrator at the University of Minnesota (way back in 2003!), ISTE was one of our most important partners in that work. I served on the initial advisory board for ISTE’s Standards for Education Leaders (back then, they were the NETS-A) and in 2016 I received ISTE’s global Award for Outstanding Leadership. I have worked with ISTE in a number of other service and professional learning roles and currently am serving as one of ISTE’s Community Leaders. All that said, I never have worked toward ISTE certification until now. I’ll be sharing my thoughts and experiences as I go through the certification program this year…]

ISTE logoI’m part of an awesome cohort. We represent a variety of job roles and responsibilities across multiple states and several countries, including both P-12 and postsecondary. I already can tell that I’m going to learn a lot from the other members of my cohort. We meet face-to-face every few weeks and also engage together in a number of asynchronous learning activities. So far we’ve met once and have been assigned to some small groups.

Our early work has been focused on grounding ourselves in course expectations, assignments and deadlines, and introducing ourselves to each other and the ISTE Standards for Educators. ISTE also has invited us to reflect on what it means to be part of an online professional learning network.

One of our first activities asked us to reflect on some of our understandings, strengths, and challenges related to the ISTE Standards for Educators. Here’s some of what I wrote:

I orient toward design thinking so am probably most confident with Standards 5a, 5b, 5c, and 6c because they emphasize the (re)design process. I spend a lot of time redesigning lessons and units with P-12 teachers, instructional coaches, and principals. I also have done a great deal of program design work at the university level, including recently redesigning our principal licensure program at CU Denver. I’m also confident in Standards 2a and 2b because I’m a school leadership professor who works with school leaders all around the world on designing and implementing new visions for learning and implementation structures for deeper learning, greater student agency, more authentic work, and rich technology infusion. As a university faculty member who tries hard to integrate technology into my teaching, I think I’m doing a decent job with Standards 6a, 6c, and 7a. My students tell me that they appreciate my efforts in this area. Finally, I’m a strong user of social media tools and online platforms and have a large global professional learning network (so Standard 1b!).

As a university school leadership professor, I don’t deal too much with data, data privacy, copyright, coding, computational thinking, and other more IT-oriented and/or media literacy concerns. Accordingly, Standards 3c, 3d, and 6b aren’t really in my day-to-day domain. Standard 7c is hard for me simply because I have seen technology systems used too often to reinforce low-level factual recall, procedural regurgitation, and assessment and I am adamantly opposed to those traditional practices dominating the deeper learning practices that we should be implementing instead.

I’ve been using ed tech since the mid-1990s. I’ve seen a number of learning and productivity technologies come and go, so I think I’m a pretty savvy consumer of new tools and their affordances (or their lack thereof) and the mindsets that underlie them. I’m familiar with and am a regular user of a larger number of digital tools, including some old standbys like RSS and blogs that I think still have value in today’s social media-oriented world. I’m an unafraid and unapologetic learner and am looking forward to living in community with – and being stretched by – the other folks in this certification cohort.

My primary implementation struggle is time. As a research university faculty member who also happens to care deeply about my teaching, those often conflict with each other in regard to institutional expectations and reward systems. Now that I’ve been promoted to Full Professor, I’m hoping that I can spend more time on what I want, not what the university wants!

I’m looking forward to my continued learning and growth in this certification process as I work to strengthen my understandings of learning technologies and meaningful classroom integration. I’m also interested in the logistics of how ISTE structures and facilitates this course and am hoping to pick up some good tips for my own blended instruction. 

More reflections from me in the weeks and months to come!

Some good questions to ask before hiring an outside helper

Monkey puppetSchool resources are always limited, whether they be time, money, attention, energy, or personnel. Before you hire an outside helper for your school(s), here are some questions you might ask…

  • Are we bringing in this person to actually help us do something?
    • Or do we just want to dabble and/or pretend that we care about the topic? 
    • Or are we just doing it because others are / it’s a hot topic right now?
  • How does this work fit in with our other current initiatives?
    • How will we help our employees, students, and families understand the connections with our other work?
    • How much of a priority is this work compared to our other initiatives?
  • What will we do beforehand to optimize our employees’ chances of being successful with this?
  • What’s our follow-up plan afterward?
    • What additional support structures, leadership behaviors, professional learning, expectations, timelines, deadlines, financial and time resources, personnel, monitoring mechanisms, etc. will be put into place to support this work?
    • Will this work be supported at the very highest levels of the school organization? How?
    • Are these new supports adequate for the work to be successful?
  • Do we have a fighting chance to actually do this right now?
    • Or are we just fooling ourselves?
    • Do we have both the will and capacity to actually make this happen?
    • What are we currently doing that conflicts with or will obstruct our success with this new work?
  • What concerns will our employees, students, and families raise about this work?
    • What is our plan for addressing those?

Some questions to ask the outside helper (before you hire them) include…

  • Can you actually help us do something? (i.e., can you help us with the WHAT and the HOW, not just the WHY?)
    • Or are you just going to tell us we should do something and then leave?
  • What should we do beforehand to optimize our employees’ chances of being successful with this?
  • How much time do we need with you to get started successfully on this?
    • What will that work look like (and why)?
  • How much time do we need after you work with us to get started successfully on this?
    • What does that work look like (and why)?
  • What barriers, challenges, and other concerns should we expect as we head into this work?
    • How can you help us with those?
  • What kinds of follow-up resources and supports can you provide us?
    • What do those look like (and why)?

These are just a few to get started… What else would you add here?