This past Thursday I created 25 professional learning ‘conversation stations’ for my principal licensure students. I printed them all out and spread them around our classroom (which is a school library). Each printed station contained a link or two – or a short reading (and a source) – and some questions to consider. The idea was to expose our preservice administrators at the University of Colorado Denver to a variety of ways to foster and facilitate adult learning beyond schools’ traditional, moribund professional development sessions.
My students traveled around the room in pairs or trios, visiting whichever stations they wanted (they had a shared notes document that listed all of the stations). Each group stayed at a station for as long or short a time as desired. Most averaged about 7 to 10 minutes per station, but some talked for nearly 30 minutes at a single station. At several points during our two hours on this activity, they got together with another group and shared what was resonating from their station visits. We learned a lot and had some awesome conversations together! At the end of the evening I gave them a link to all of the stations, so that they could later peruse whatever they hadn’t visited yet.
Here are links to both the conversation stations and the shared notes document, as well as the slide I used to introduce the activity:
Both of the main documents are editable. Feel free to modify them and make them better for others. If you use this activity in your principal licensure program or school district, let me know how it went!
We also had 3 pre-class readings and 5 beginning-of-activity provocations just to get us in the right mindset:
If you have any thoughts or questions about all of this, please get in touch. Otherwise, hope this is useful to you!
How are you introducing school leaders and teachers to alternative (better) forms of professional learning?
At CU Denver we are having conversations about principal licensure program redesign, including possible orientation toward what we’re calling the ‘grand challenges’ of the principalship. A ‘grand challenge’ for building-level leaders might be a leadership issue such as:
- turning around a low-achieving school;
- repairing a dysfunctional school staff culture;
- preparing future-ready graduates;
- meeting the needs of students with unique needs (including ELL/ESL, special education, gifted, transitory; etc.); or
- better engaging diverse student and family communities.
We are soliciting ideas from others about which grand challenges might be worth centering a principal licensure program around. We’ll take whatever ideas you are willing to share (multiple submissions are welcome!). Please also include your contact information if you are willing to have us follow up with you.
Thanks in advance for sending us some ideas!
As I look across the presentations and workshops and keynotes that educational leadership faculty are sponsoring and facilitating, outside of a few isolated pockets I don’t see much evidence that we’re having wide-ranging and substantive conversations about the need for students to:
- engage in deeper and higher-level learning instead of spending 80% to 85% of their time on regurgitation and recall of low-level knowledge items (that can be found via smartphone voice search in seconds);
- possess greater agency and ownership of their own learning in order to foster engagement and self-directedness instead of being directed by teachers and schools toward control and compliance;
- have opportunities to engage in authentic, meaningful learning activities instead of isolated, disconnected-from-the-real-world classroom assignments; or
- utilize digital technologies in academic- and work-productive ways that go far beyond social uses or mere replication of analog instructional practices.
I rarely see or hear educational leadership faculty talking about the profile below of high school graduates, even though these student life skills are absolutely foundational to schools’ and policymakers’ current college and career readiness efforts:
I rarely see or hear educational leadership faculty talking about these components of ‘future ready’ schools:
We are preparing instructional leaders for P-12 schools but I rarely see or hear us talking about how to help preservice or practicing administrators understand how to (re)design school structures, curricula, units, lessons, and instructional activities to move in the directions noted above. [indeed, I have some doubts that most of us faculty would even know how] Even though social justice is a deeply held belief for most of us, we rarely discuss the intersections of that concept with changing workforce readiness needs or how the inequities of students’ digital access are extended and exacerbated when it comes to students’ digital usage. I don’t see most educational leadership faculty having broad and rich conversations about how technology has and will transform almost everything, what ‘college and career readiness’ or ‘personalized learning’ even mean these days, or what our roles are as faculty, parents, community members, and citizens to deal with all of this.
We do a great deal of research and teaching on interesting and important topics. We speak out against the marginalization of underserved and underrepresented groups. We talk a lot against federal and state policy. But we rarely foster ‘future ready’ policies, instructional and leadership practices, or school organizational redesigns. When we talk about student voice, it’s primarily within the frame of empowerment within local, not global, contexts. We talk marginally, if at all, about furthering students’ global awareness. And so on…
I really like my educational leadership faculty colleagues. They’re whip-smart, thoughtful, well-meaning, and kind and are engaged in some fascinating work. I learn lots every time I get to interact with them. So maybe ‘irrelevant’ is not the right word for what we do because it sounds too pejorative. But it sure seems like there are enormous, important, gaping holes in our conversations that we educational leadership faculty decline to fill year after year…
The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) is working on its latest draft of standards for school leaders. The ISLLC standards are intended to detail the knowledge and skills that effective district and school leaders need in order to build teams of teachers and leaders who improve student learning. CCSSO is seeking feedback on the draft standards. My feedback and comments are below. I hope that you will read the standards yourself and also share some thoughts with CCSSO about whether you feel that they adequately describe an effective school leader for today and tomorrow…
Please list any additional dispositions that you believe educational leaders need that are not listed on page 9 of the ISLLC 2015 standards.
Learner. Just because you’re reflective and/or analytical does NOT mean you’re a learner yourself. We have lots of clueless administrators who don’t understand / have not kept up with external societal transformations because they are not active, engaged, externally-focused learners themselves. So they don’t understand how our new information landscapes operate and what the implications are for educational practice. (neither do most Educational Leadership profs, sadly)
Does the section, “Using the Standards” provide you with sufficient direction about how the standards might be used to improve leadership at the state and local level?
Standards are necessarily vague. So providing TWO pages on ‘using’ them isn’t really going to do much for anyone. There are a few broad generalities here but they’re nowhere near specific enough to really be that helpful for practice.
Please list any competencies for transformational leaders that you believe would NOT fall into one of the categories represented by the seven ISLLC 2015 standards.
Where’s the future-oriented, innovation disposition in these standards, actions, and competencies. I’m struggling to see it…
To what extent do you agree that the ISLLC 2015: Model Policy Standards for Educational Leaders represent a clear, coherent vision for transformational school and district leadership that reflects current expectations for educational leaders and prepares them to effectively adapt their leadership to future changes and challenges? Please share any additional reactions or comments that you have about the standards as a whole.
The standards and the actions listed below them don’t really reflect in any way the ‘innovative’ disposition that is cited earlier in the ISLLC draft document. If ISLLC truly was interested in fostering innovative leadership practice, there would be greater recognition of and emphasis on the seismic transformations that are occurring in our information, economic, and learning landscapes. Instead, there’s nary a mention anywhere of the fact that schools need to look a LOT different than they currently do and the current factory model of schooling appears to be generally accepted as a given across the standards. When it comes to learning, then, what we’re left with in these new draft ISLLC standards appears to be a very technocratic model of school leadership that’s focused on increasing student ‘achievement’ on low-level factual recall items and procedural skills rather than fostering innovative, creative, collaborative critical thinkers and problem solvers [NOTE: if this is not what you intend, then you need to reframe and reword huge chunks of this document because right now it reads like an educational leadership standards document for 1995, not 2015]. Everything that’s listed here in the new ISLLC standards is arguably important. But the standards and actions are neither innovative nor forward-thinking enough so they fail to live up to the ideal of preparing school leaders to ‘effectively adapt their leadership to future changes and challenges’ because there’s nothing really future-oriented in them.
It’s also worth noting for page 10 that simply displaying the 7 standards horizontally across the 8 vertical dispositions in Figure 3 does absolutely nothing to ‘demonstrate how the dispositions are essential to the work of educational leadership.’ There’s no meaning made there. There is no explanation of the diagram or the intersections or what progression/extension might look like. You simply overlay them across each other and then say ‘quod erat demonstrandum!’ That whole section either needs to be explicated quite a bit or discarded.
Final category! Below are all of the education blog categories for which I’ve solicited ‘the best of the best’ over the past few months. What’s left? And if you know of a blog for one of the previous categories that’s worth submitting, please submit to the list! (there’s a form at the end of this post)
What are some miscellaneous education blogs that P-12 educators and higher education faculty should be reading? Please contribute, see the responses, AND share this post with others so that we can get the best list possible.
What education blogs would you recommend? http://bit.ly/14ulBas Please share with others so we get a great list! #edchat #edtech
Thanks in advance for helping with this initiative. If we all contribute, we should have a bevy of excellent subject-specific blogs to which we all can point. Please spread the word about THE PUSH!
- Agricultural education
- Art education
- Athletics / extracurricular activities
- Business education
- Career and technical education
- Computer science / coding education
- Counselors / school counseling
- Drama / theater education
- Education policy / reform
- Educational technology / technology integration
- Elementary classrooms (students are blogging)
- Elementary teachers (teachers are blogging)
- English / language arts education
- English as a second language (ESL/ELL) education
- Family and consumer sciences education
- Gifted education
- Math education
- Media specialists / school librarians
- Miscellaneous / other
- Music education
- Physical / health education
- Preschool / early childhood education
- Preservice preparation
- Principals / schools
- Science education
- Secondary classrooms (students are blogging)
- Social studies education
- Special education
- Superintendents / central office / districts
- World languages education
What is THE PUSH?
We are working together to identify excellent subject-specific blogs that are useful to P-12 educators. Why? Several reasons…
- To identify blogs that P-12 educators can use to initially seed (or expand) their RSS readers (e.g., Feedly, Flipboard, Reeder, Pulse)
- To facilitate the creation of online, global (not just local) communities of practice by connecting role-alike peers
- To create a single location where P-12 educators can go to see excellent subject-oriented educational blogging
- To highlight excellent disciplinary blogging that deserves larger audiences
- To learn from disciplines other than our own and get ideas about our own teaching and/or blogging
We are looking for blogs with RSS feeds – particularly from P-12 educators – not sites to which we can’t subscribe. This is an effort to update the awesome but now heavily-spammed list we made 5 years ago!