Why a random motivational speaker won’t help your staff remember their ‘why’

Why a random motivational speaker won’t help your staff remember their ‘why’

This post from a school administrator came across my feeds this weekend:

Looking for suggestions of a great speaker for the first week of PD– motivational– reconnecting with your “Why” for staff. Thank you in advance for your suggestions!

I posted it to Facebook with the comment, “Does anyone think this is going to have any long-term impact whatsoever?”

Some folks thought that I was criticizing the speaker side of this dynamic. Just to clarify, I don’t actually have an issue with that side of things. If you’re offering something as a speaker or facilitator that others find value in and are willing to pay for, more power to you. That doesn’t mean that everyone will, but that’s okay. Find your niche. Try to do good work. Ignore the critics (or use their feedback to improve what you do).

Instead, I am greatly challenged by the request. There’s nothing in this generic call for a random ‘great … motivational’ speaker that says:

  • We are working on school culture and I need a carefully-targeted outside person who can build our capacity to do the following things, or
  • My teachers are really struggling. Who might be able to help me and my leadership team build better systems of support?, or
  • Based on robust feedback from my staff, we really need assistance with these key structures.

Instead, the request just feels like “Hey, I’d like to find some random person who hopefully can help us feel good and ignore our disengaging workspace for an hour and I’m willing to pay big money for it.” Um, maybe a standup comedian can do that for you? The long-term impact for your staff and school feels like it will be about the same…

There are at least three large concerns here:

  1. The belief that teachers who are disconnected from their ‘why’ will somehow derive significant benefit from a one-off ‘motivational’ speaker,
  2. The utter lack of follow-up or overall strategy that is built into this request, and
  3. The apparent lack of awareness that what is in need of fixing is local systems (which are primarily the leaders’ responsibility), not teachers.

Brad Weinstein aptly saidAsking teachers to remember their ‘why’ can be viewed as blaming teachers for losing their passion for teaching instead of working on improving the conditions that actually burn them out. Similarly, Mandy Froehlich said in a comment to my Facebook post, Most teachers know their why. They don’t know how to do their why in their current situation or the state of education.

School culture is critically important for organizational success, and the best facilitators that I know on this topic work with schools long-term from a coaching stance to help build both better systems and individual capacity. That is a whole different ballgame than “The culture and systems that I am responsible for are broken and I am hoping that a high energy, one-hour talk will paper over it.” Teaching is really hard, and it’s particularly difficult right now. As school leaders who are supposed to serve those in our care and also have limited professional learning funds, we owe our educators better than this.

See also

ISTE Community Leaders: Apply for the 2024-2025 cohort

ISTE Community Leaders: Apply for the 2024-2025 cohort

[I am highlighting various initiatives of the ISTE Community Leaders…]

For the past week or so, I’ve been sharing some of the many things that ISTE Community Leaders do. From our new podcast to expert webinars, from helping others within ISTE Connect to meetups and conference events, we are busy but also are having a blast. If all of this sounds fun to you too, applications for the 2024-2025 ISTE Community Leaders cohort are now open. Hope some of you are interested and apply!

See also

ISTE Community Leaders: ISTE Connect

ISTE Community Leaders: ISTE Connect

[I am highlighting various initiatives of the ISTE Community Leaders…]

Perhaps the main responsibility of the ISTE Community Leaders is to engage with the larger ISTE community within ISTE Connect. ISTE Connect has numerous job role groups, including ed tech and instructional coaches, educational leaders, librarians, higher education, and P-12 educators. ISTE Connect also has topic groups that range widely, from AI to curriculum to digital citizenship to STEAM to equity, inclusion, and accessibility. There are LOTS of resources and numerous daily conversations shared across the ISTE Connect platform. ISTE Community Leaders answer questions, provide resources, connect folks, and try to spark interesting discussions as they support the needs that emerge in the online community. It’s super fun and I’ve interacted with a whole bunch of interesting people. If you’re not already engaged in ISTE Connect, come join us!

See also

ISTE Community Leaders: Expert webinars

ISTE Community Leaders: Expert webinars

[I am highlighting various initiatives of the ISTE Community Leaders…]

In addition to The Edge podcast, ongoing meetups, and various conference-related events, the ISTE Community Leaders also regularly host webinars on a variety of topics. Here is a list of upcoming and/or recent webinar topics:

Keep an eye out in ISTE (or ASCD) newsletters or other communications for information about upcoming webinars. There’s also usually a call for webinar proposals a couple of times per year. Happy listening!

See also

ISTE Community Leaders: Meetups and conferences

ISTE Community Leaders: Meetups and conferences

[I am highlighting various initiatives of the ISTE Community Leaders…]

In my last post I mentioned that the ISTE Community Leaders are doing amazing things. I have been particularly impressed with the frequency and variety of the meetups and conference events led by the Community Leaders. As an example, in recent months the Community Leaders have hosted meetups related to “meeting students where they are,” strategies for educational technology coaching, and a makerspace-themed digital escape room.

Other big events include conferences and in-person events. Some of the Community Leaders hosted the Global Impact Virtual Conference. You will see several Community Leader-hosted playgrounds at ISTELive24. I am keynoting – and several of us are helping with – the 2024 Summer ASCD + ISTE Summer Leaders Meetup in Colorado Springs. And so on…

As I mentioned, we’ve got a lot going on!

See also

ISTE Community Leaders: The Edge

ISTE Community Leaders: The Edge

I have been involved with the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) for over two decades. ISTE was a major supporter of our School Technology Leadership Initiative (STLI) at the University of Minnesota, a $2.5 million federally-funded project which, among other things, created the first graduate program designed to prepare a technology-savvy school leader. STLI later morphed into the University Council for Educational Administration (UCEA) Center for the Advanced Study of Technology Leadership in Education (CASTLE), which was the first university center in the USA focused on technology, leadership, innovation, and deeper learning. As the Founding Director (and current Co-Director) of CASTLE, I served on the original advisory board for ISTE’s National Educational Technology Standards for Administrators (the NETS-A), and since have served ISTE as a professional learning partner, reviewer, workshop facilitator, and Ambassador. I was the recipent of ISTE’s global Award for Outstanding Leadership in 2016, and this year I am helping plan and host ISTELive here in Denver. To say that I am grateful for my relationship with ISTE would be an understatement!

For the past few years, I have been fortunate to serve as an ISTE Community Leader. There are a few dozen of us, located all around the world, and we have monthly virtual meetups in which we share what each other is doing, hear what ISTE is planning, and connect and design with each other. The Community Leaders are all doing amazing things, and our joy-filled, high energy meetings are a bucket filler for me each month.

The Community Leaders program has been around for only a few years, and I’m a huge fan. This week I will be highlighting some of what we do, starting with ISTE’s newest podcast, The Edge. The Edge evolved organically during the Community Leaders’ first couple of years together. The Edge is a podcast run by ISTE members, not ISTE staff, and the episodes are meant to highlight a variety of interesting activities happening in the ISTE community. Previous podcast topics (and guests) have included Building an E-Sports Program (with Julie Mavrogeorge), Outdoor Learning and Place-Based Education (with Paul Bocko), Neurodiverse Students and Inclusive Learning Environments (with Matthew Harrison), and Engaging Student Creativity (with Michael Hernandez).

If The Edge is not currently in your podcast listening cycle, I encourage you to check it out!

Books I read in April 2024

Books I read in April 2024

Books I finished reading (or rereading) in April 2024…

  1. The A.I. Roadmap, John Spencer (education)
  2. The AI Infused Classroom, Holly Clark (education)
  3. The AI Classroom, Dan Fitzpatrick, Amanda Fox, & Brad Weinstein (education)
  4. The Generative Age, Alanna Winnick (education)
  5. AI for Educators, Matt Miller (education)
  6. Learning Evolution, Carl Hooker (education)
  7. Active Learning with AI, Stephen Kosslyn (education)
  8. Education for the Age of AICharles Fadel et al. (education)
  9. Last Argument of Kings, Joe Abercrombie (fantasy)
  10. Wool, Hugh Howey (science fiction)
  11. Shift, Hugh Howey (science fiction)
  12. Dust, Hugh Howey (science fiction)
  13. Generation Ship, Michael Mammay (science fiction)
  14. The Jackal of Nar, John Marco (fantasy)
  15. Under Siege, J. N. Chaney & Terry Mixon (science fiction)
  16. Implacable Resolve, J. N. Chaney & Terry Mixon (science fiction) 

Hope you’re reading something fun too!

BREAKING NEWS: Students are still bored

BREAKING NEWS: Students are still bored

Breaking news! A nationally-representative poll of more than 1,000 teenagers finds that… students are still bored. Here are some key findings:

  • 64% of teenagers think that school is boring
  • 70% of teenagers say that all or most of their classmates are bored in class
  • Only 41% of teenagers like going to school
  • Only 40% of teenagers think that their homework helps them learn
  • 30% of teenagers say that school is a waste of time
  • Only 19% of teenagers say that most of their classmates want to be in school

64% of teens think school is boring

 

These results just confirm earlier findings. This is a system that is fundamentally BROKEN. Everyone is expressing concern about students’ chronic absenteeism. But we’re just offering them the same old boring stuff. That’s not a successful sales pitch for a student who doesn’t want to come to school, is it?

What will we do about these recent findings? Probably the same thing that we’ve done in the past: nothing. As I said in an earlier post:

The biggest indictment of our schools is not their failure to raise test scores above some politically-determined line of ‘proficiency.’ It’s that – day in and day out – they routinely ignore the fact that our children are bored, disengaged, and disempowered. We’ve known this forever, but we have yet to really care about it in a way that would drive substantive changes in practice. The disenfranchisement of our youth continues to happen in the very institutions that are allegedly preparing them to be ‘life long learners.’

Shame on us.