To rethink and redesign learning for students, we as educators need to practice new ways of thinking and approaching challenges. A few weeks ago, I participated in a Design Thinking Bootcamp facilitated by Greg Bamford (@gregbamford), Carla Silver (@carla_r_silver) and Alyssa Gallagher (@am_gallagher) from Leadership and Design. Powerful learning stretches us beyond our boundaries, pushes us out of comfort zone, and leads us to new insights. This is exactly what I experienced. Here are my top five take-aways from the Design Thinking Bootcamp: Continue reading
Photo credit: IQoncept
As I move into the new year, I want to focus my energies on what’s important. Yet, I often find myself pulled in many directions and sometimes feel like maintaining my focus is a challenge. I recently came across Peter Bregman’s book, 18 Minutes: Finding Your Focus, Mastering Your Distractions and Getting the Right Things Done, that I think may hold some insights for me in my quest.
18 Minutes offers “a comprehensive approach to managing a year, a day, and a moment so that our lives move forward in a way that keeps us focused on, and doing, the things we decide are most important” (Kindle Location: 53). At its essence, this approach to organizing our time and focusing our energies is based on making conscious choices on what’s most important and aligning our daily activities with our priorities.
4 Ways to “Get the Right Things Done”: Continue reading
Last week I had the opportunity to participate in a round table discussion with George Couros, the Division Principal of Innovative Teaching and Learning for Parkland School Division, at the Marin County Office of Education (@MCOEPD). George has been inspirational to me. He’s challenged me to take risks in my own professional learning and provided gentle nudges to stick with the process. I was delighted to be able to meet him in person and talk about his ideas about how to grow a culture of innovation.
With his personable style and passion, George focused our attention on a key question for educational leaders: How do we move from pockets of innovation to a culture of innovation? He provide much food for thought that is summarized very well by Eric Saibel, Assistant Principal at Sir Francis Drake High School, in his post, Stepping Beyond the Cage of the Unknown. George has also outlined these ideas in the Leading Innovative Change series on his blog, The Principal of Change.
While I came away from the discussion and presentation with my head spinning — lots to think about — I’d like to focus on a few of the key ideas that resonate with my work. Continue reading
I recently came across Tom Whitby’s insightful blog post, “Educator Fear and Discomfort.” His post provided me with some important perspective on how we approach integrating technology and learning.
Whitby highlights two counterproductive beliefs that stand in the way of fully integrating digital tools into the classroom: 1) that all kids are digital natives who know everything about technology and 2) that teachers cannot make mistakes in front of students. These beliefs coupled by a misguided notion that before a teachers can use technology with students they must know everything about the technology and all applications. Whitby correctly points out that this is simply impossible given the incredible pace of change.
The constant in education should be the learning and not the status quo. If society is moving to change at a rapid pace, then we need to develop in our children the skills and abilities to change as well, and that requires the same abilities in the educators who are charged with teaching our children.
Integrating digital tools into the learning process shifts “the learning dynamic for teachers and for students.” As he notes,”It requires a commitment to life long learning which goes beyond just the words.” In short, we must practice what preach.
He concludes by emphasizing that: “…we can better educate our students if we better educate their educators. We should never hold up our past as our children’s model for their future.”
Whitby’s post serves as an excellent reminder to educators who are focused on preparing children for their future, not our past. Our work toward this goal needs to be focused on the learning first, not the devices. And, more importantly, bringing new digital tools into the classroom must be guided by a commitment to creating the conditions that make it possible through training, support, collaboration and encouragement for educators.
What are some ways that we can create the conditions that make this kind of transformation in teaching and learning a reality for students and educators?
Lately, I have been thinking through the question of how meaningful change happens. The gap between the kinds of schools our kids need and the kinds of schools we currently inhabit seems vast and daunting.
I have always felt uncomfortable with the image of the heroic figure who single-handedly “makes things happen.” It seems that the changes that we need to make — to shift our paradigm and create truly innovative learning for our students — are both larger and deeper than one person.