- “The secret is to work less as individuals and more as a team. As a coach, I play not my eleven best, but my best eleven.” – Knute Rockne
Happy New Year and welcome back from your vacations.
As we begin a new year I thought it would be interesting to reflect on my recent aha moments as a professional. This will be a random review of some memorable items I have read or heard. I hope they have some use for you the reader.
From Steven Johnson who wrote “Where Good Ideas Come From” I was reminded that innovations are rarely a result of a solitary imagination at work. Most of the time innovations are the result of a slow hunch, influenced by many others and lots of ideas that percolate over time.
From Michael Fullan through presentations and his recent books I have been reminded that our work as educational leaders is very complex. He always so clearly articulates the work of leadership for me. As he suggests we need to identify the few things that matter most; know how to leverage our skills in ways that benefit our entire organization and how to act with purpose and empathy. In observing our district at work, I can clearly visualize his thoughts in the way we organize professional learning, motivate each other and learn by doing.
From the work or of “Strong Classrooms, Strong Schools” project I observed the power of intense collaboration and the importance of leaders participating as learners. I hope to help others learn of the work of these terrific educators.
From our collaborative work with Principals, Vice Principals and District Leaders who are working on a Professional Growth Plan Model, I am again reminded that good ideas need to be implemented properly. However I must always be aware of the implementation dip. Through deliberate practice and resolute focus on our ultimate aim of developing this process properly, we will have impact on learning and teaching.
From our collaborative work on “Learning Without Boundaries” I am always struck by the power of our work. Our focus on learning success for every learner, every day, and without exception is the basis for our successful collaborative efforts. Our outcomes as a learning organization that has achieved a student completion rate of 91% is testament to the power of capacity development and the harnessing of potential as learners and teachers.
From some very innovative teachers I have observed that you get better through practice, you provide opportunity for learners to make their learning public, provide opportunities to excel, and reap greater outcomes for students.
Building collaborative cultures is so important as we communally develop a school system focused on learning. Our leaders, coordinators, support staff, teachers, parents and students work together on precise goals. In Kindergarten I learned the value of working together and I sincerely hope that we continue to apply these collaborative skills on a daily basis.
From McKinsey in his study ( http://www.mckinsey.org ) “How the World’s Most Improved School Systems Keep Getting Better” I was again reminded of interventions that lead to success. Capacity development, flexible and thin plans that guide others, communication, a focus on learning, and collaboration are all important aspects of our work as a good organization working to excellence.
Christopher Doyle surprised me with his suggestion that educators make bad prognosticators of the future. His argument suggests that much of our zeal for 21st Century Learning is fueled by business and political leadership . According to Doyle we would do better by asking artists, psychologists, environmentalists and physicists to be part of the debate on where we are headed and how to get there.
I was intrigued by the white paper written by Valerie Hannon and others for Cisco. In “Developing an Innovation Ecosystem for Education” they reminded me that there are contextual pressures on education as we enter the 21st Century. Their framework suggests that we respond to the pressures by re-engaging in learning and not just with and through school, that we mine our present landscape for successful innovations, find new innovations to support learners and develop networks to share and learn from each other. I feel we are moving in the right direction in Coquitlam.
I would like to finish this blog with a reference to the strategy I learned from my examination of Reggio Emilia philosophy. Prior to organizing a Reggio influenced classroom, program or school, the community must come together and make explicit their “image of the learner”. This strategy helped me to better frame my individual orientation to schooling and learning. By a public expression of a view of the positive elements of children and learners, we are better able to focus on our Dream of “Learning Without Boundaries”.
“However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.” – Winston Churchill