Thursday, December 27, 2007

A Personal Change In Practice or Not?

Well, I stayed away from e-mail and blogs for five days and I have survived. But, something has changed. This morning when I was catching up on my blog reading I did something I don't recall doing before, I responded. It was on AssortedStuff and was about new technologies potential impact on teaching and learning in the next five years. I don't think I have anything new to add, but not seeing any comments bothered me and I do think about this a lot.

What should we be doing as leaders to respond to this challenge? Do we know what changes are needed that create learning environments that take advantage of current and projected technology advances? How do we create focus here with all the other issues that we face as leaders in school systems? Do we have the commitment necessary to make the changes?

We must find answers and ways because we have the responsibility of preparing these young people for success in their world, post K-12. And this world will not look and sound like the one that most students find today in their classrooms and schools.

It will be fun to self-monitor my future blog reading. Will I revert to keeping my thoughts private or will I continue the change to making my thinking more public? I may share with you at some time in the future.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

That Student Voice in the Background

Below, I have pasted excerpts from Steve Hargadon's interview of three high school students participating in the Student 2.0 project that I wrote about in my last blog. I continue to be impressed by their insights into our work and their learning.

From Sean: "What's happened over the past few years, and in society, with technology and the web becoming a lot more important, I'd say that the stuff I'm doing at home [rather than at school] is right now a bit more relevant, in terms of the skills I will need later in life.... At the stage at which we are at school, I would say that we are not dumb, we've matured a bit, and I think we should have some form of say in what's happening... "

From Kevin: "It's an interesting model, the way school continues to operate, as opposed to the infinitely more learning that we can do outside of the classroom... I think that technology is a very important part of education today, and because of that the shift from the traditional student-teacher model is creating a whole bunch of new possibilities. The web is not the only method by which that will happen, but it is a very important one as well... At the core of everything else, all the technology usage, it's all about creating learners, not just students who are able to interpret the facts that the teachers just preach to them in the classroom... There are 300 - 400 teachers in my school district, maybe only a a handful, I can probably count on one hand, who actually read blogs, let alone write them." -Kevin, 17 years old, Illinois, USA

(Lindsea had less to say because she had to leave the interview early to get to class. She was on a world-wide Skype interview from her computer at school, cool as a cucumber, with all of the noise of a school campus in the background.)

It makes me wonder what our students are thinking, but not saying, about their experiences in our schools. I am struggling to identify where we are intentionally including them in our conversations about Classroom 10 and the role of technology in supporting acquisition of our Outcomes and focus on thinking skills and Habits of Mind. Is this a voice we need to hear? If yes, why do we continue to not provide for this opportunity? It would seem that engaging them in these conversations would provide us with information to influence the quality of our curriculum and increase the likelihood that more students would find meaning in and embrace the learning opportunity.

I encourage you to mark this student web site and occasionally read what they are saying about their public school experiences. At the same time, let's identify the purpose for student voice in this work and then create the opportunity for the skillful discussions to take place. Who wants this opportunity?

Well, enough for now. Have a great day!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Student Voice

Thanks to Jeff Whipple on Whip Blog I discovered this site that is designed for students to have a voice in this Web 2.0 world. I read many of the posts - they are well written and contain insights important for us as we attempt to implement changes that serve students. Check it out and read some of the posts such as the Difference Between Teaching and Preaching and The World Won't Wait for Rome. The comments are also informative. This is a must RSS feed.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Thoughts on Frenzy In the Workplace

I'm sitting at home with the tablet in front of me and the football game in the background keeping my inbox below 10 items. The Ravens are tied with the Patriots and in scoring position making me more uncomfortable since the Seahawks still have to play the Ravens.

I'm also thinking about a recent conversation I had with three people I respect about what they labeled as the "frenzy" of our work place and the lack of reflection by those of us in key positions in our district. Being one who is always promoting the need to be reflective this observation is a concern for me. I can't say that I haven't observed this "frenzy" myself because I have. I have also labeled it to those in leadership positions and spent multiple hours in what I believed were skillful discussions attempting to influence the scope and pace of work in the department. Obviously, I haven't had significant success to date.

Our short conversation has created multiple concerns for me about how we approach and engage in our work. Two of these concerns have emerged as occupiers of my reflection. The first is that many of us have come to believe that the "frenzy" is simply a part of doing our work. If we are going to be successful in supporting teachers and students frenzy goes with the work. It simply must be done and the scope and timeline we impose on ourselves is what drives these perceptions of a place with harried people, scurrying from one project to the next with little time to engage in quality control and reflection. Lack of quality control leads to mistakes that reinforce negative ladders of inference. Lack of reflection is particularly troubling because it promotes TTWWADI. We get the project done, cross it off our list, and go to the next project. We don't take the time for continuous learning that leads to the adaptive changes necessary for improving what we do and how we do it.

The second concern is the perception created by how some of us engage in the work that success is only possible if all are equally committed to the work. This "equal" commitment means working 10-11 hours daily on site and then continuing at home. Obviously, this is not healthy and can't be sustained over a long period of time though I have observed it in place for multiple years now. What can we expect? What should we expect? What is too much? How do we answer these and other questions so that people don't question their commitment and work ethic if this is not what they choose to do? Why do they have to make the choice is probably even a better question?

This short conversation where three people shared their private thoughts has resulted in much reflection by me. They made the suggestion that we plan a series of meetings to reflect on the work and to continue to share our thinking to improve both the quality of the work and the satisfaction that results from contributing to the work in balanced, meaningful ways. The first meeting is now planned. In Professional Learning Communities people share their private thoughts to promote reflection, understanding, and growth. This is an example of that in practice and I thank them for this learning opportunity.

The Ravens are leading by 4 with 1:40 to play and the Patriots driving.
Well, enough for now. Have a great day.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Not all agree that the Kindle will be a success!

The "gadget" I referred to yesterday certainly has been popping up in a lot of places. Here is a counterpoint to the potential success of the Kindle from Amazon. I can see the point about people not being ready to read novels on this gadget, but I wonder if that is because my preference would be to still have the feel of the book. It makes more sense to me to fall asleep clutching the book (as I have often done) than this cold piece of machinery. When the price drops and novels are available at $9.99, however, it would make me think twice about the importance of cuddling with the book.

But, I wonder about the kids in our schools. Is reading on a device more "comfortable", more "natural" to them than packing around a back-breaking bag from class-to-class and back home? I don't have the answer, but I lean towards the belief that this gadget or probably one of the next generation of this gadget will have a significant impact on how we do business. With that being the case I believe that we should be exploring this and the many other "gadgets" available to support learning and teaching.

Another example is this new computer from Asus that Dawn shared with me. At $399 (they now have a $300 model) , this machine and others being developed and in the market will force us to think about what we can and will put into the hands of our students. This price is about one-fourth the cost of the machines we have placed at the middle schools and high school. Wonderful opportunties await us as we continue to shift our focus to instruction and the support of learning and teaching. What are you doing to personnaly keep informed in this "new" area of our work? What exciting things are happening in your work environments with technology?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Choosing Innovations for Focus

I'm finally back after much frustration in trying to figure out why I couldn't access my blog. Much thanks to Ben in the tech department for walking me through a very easy fix. I still don't understand how I messed up. I learned another lesson though, ask for help more quickly and stop treating this like being lost on a road trip. Oh well, old habits are hard to change.

In catching up on the blogs I read I wanted to share this one (go to the second entry on convergence in this blog) with you. How do we stay abreast of all these changes? How do we prioritize what to focus on considering all the innovations out there and being planned? The potential is unlimited if we break out of TTWWADI and think about how these tools can support learning and teaching. This one is about e-paper and a smart pen that is due out soon. Can and will it replace traditional paper? It certainly opens up many possibilities and forces the question around what should we be doing with it?

Again, this is only one there are so many more out there. It reinforces the for me the need to continue to learn and to find ways to bring meaning and excitement to the classroom for students.

Well, enough for now have a great day!

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Seahawks and Performance Centers

I just got home from the Seahawks game. If we could play the 49'ers every game we would be better than 5 and 4. It was cold, but winning makes it easier to persevere. An added treat was our cheerleaders participating in the half time show. They were great!

On the way home we passed the new complex being built on the lake to house the Seahawks headquarters and training center. It is large and impressive. I wonder if we could get Paul Allen to help us with our proposed performance center? In case you don't know, we are gaining some momentum on this project. Council member Dunn recently made a pitch to Representative Reichert in Washington D.C. and we have a meeting scheduled with the Governor's husband, a veteran who is active in those circles. We also have contacts in Senator Murray's office with the potential for a grant writer to assist us in finding grant money. This is an exciting opportunity as we seek partners to support our needs and those of the National Cemetery.

If only Paul Allen would come on board this thing might get done before I retire for real.

Well, enough for now. Have a great day.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Are We As Bad As Some Would Lead Us to Believe?

I ran across this report in one of the blogs that I read. It caught my attention because I have over the last couple of years been one of those that has used data about competition with China and India and the lack of engineering students in our country in presentations to staff and community. This review and reading the abstract have reinforced the questions that I struggle with when reading Pink's A Whole New Mind and the many reports about what young people need for success in an unpredictable future.

Where will all these engineering students work and is there incentive to enter this field in the absence of quality work upon graduation? Where will young people not wanting to pursue math and science find opportunity for success in life, including financially? If what Pink and this report are saying is true, what does it mean for how we structure our young people's learning opportunities? How do we provide guidance to young people who will enter a world we may not be able to predict?

The opportunities we have are endless as we struggle with this information and identify how to create learning environments that focus on the knowledge, skills, and attitudes they will need for success post K-12 learning and work. If you question the focus on math and science and believe that this is only one of the areas of focus necessary to prepare them for their world, this review and the report will support your beliefs and provide you with information to engage others around what is important in our work.

Well, enough for now. Have a great day.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Are we making the RIGHT choices?

I don't know how many of you have seen this Seattle PI article from earlier this month, but I think it is important for us to consider as we "open up" our schools. I was reminded of it yesterday in a Technology R & D meeting when we were discussing the many ways that young people could bring in content that would not make it through our filters. There simply isn't any way to keep that from happening.

Are we wrong? Are the fears of the professors in the article enough to preclude the use of this technology in our classrooms? What are we not considering that other public school systems have, who then made the decision not to"open up" their classrooms? You and I can come up with many more similar questions, but at the end of the day I come to the same conclusion; we must move in this direction. My belief comes from my reading, from my interactions with colleagues, from my conversations with young people limited though they might be, from my observations and experiences, and from somewhere in my gut that tells me we must.

What about you? How committed are you to this change knowing the problems we will encounter with potential inappropriate content, cheating, theft, and the list goes on? It might be easier to stick with the "real basics" and leave this up to the kids. After all, they are doing a pretty good job without us. Any thoughts?

Well, enough for now. have a great day!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Fullan: "Learning Is the Work"

I want to share with you a post from Leader Talk, introducing a new book by Fullan that identifies six secrets to successful change. The secrets are both confirming and troubling for me because I can see where our work is aligned and where more emphasis may be necessary. I am particularly interested in the concept of the learning is the work (4).

In the post she shares what Fullan identifies as the difference between superficial and strong PLC's. If interested you can read about this difference in the post as well as a reference to the work of Richard Elmore and Jim Collins, two other leadership experts I enjoy reading.

I will get Fullan's new book and share what I learn.

Six Secrets of Change
1. love your employees as well as your customers
2. connect peers with purpose
3. capacity building (building capacity in others -- support, guidance, encouragement) trumps judgmentalism
4. learning is the work
5. transparency rules
6. systems learn

As I reflect on this post it again makes me think about the balance of new learning for me. I continue to focus on leadership because it is what I do and because of my belief in the need to distribute it for our work to be successful. I am also trying to become more knowledgeable and proficient with personal use of technology and embedding it into our curriculum and instructional practices. My third area of focus has become Classroom 10 and the many questions I have about my capacity to identify quality instruction aligned with this concept and support administrator and teacher implementation over time. There isn't time left for much more, but I am energized with the many learning opportunities I have each day.

Well, enough for now. Have a great day!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

This Stuff Feels Good

Well, I received four responses to my last post about my public presentation, three comments and one separate e-mail. Good information that helped me frame what I decided to show and say. It went ok, I only had one planted question the rest were from people who attended to gain the information.

I have had two of you share with me how powerful the blog on Inbox Zero has been for them. They have reached this milestone in a short period of time. They describe the feelings they have of being released and more in control of their time because of this change. Dawn and Kimberly are the two that have shared. You may want to ask them how they did it. Anyone else out there trying?

I am at 8 or fewer each evening before leaving for home. I could get to zero, but I am not feeling any urgency to achieve this goal.

I need to leave to attend a King County hearing on changes to the Comprehensive Plan. I will be reading a letter from the board sharing our concerns with the potential impacts of development in the "donut hole" part of Maple Valley.

Enough for now, have a great day!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Perils of Volunteering for a Panel

I find myself in need of some help. I have been asked to sit on a panel making a presentation to community members about the Millennial Generation kid and education. I have ten minutes! What would you say in this short period of time that captured today's kid and how that influences what we do?

The majority of time has been set aside for questions and the planning team has identified a set to prompt the audience. Eight questions have been identified for me. They include:
  • It seems as if trends or movements can influence education services in an attempt to respond to whatever is coming down the "pike" in the media, economy, or political speak. Is embracing technology and all that it has to offer just another knee jerk reaction?
  • What basics need to stay in education?
  • What can we count on over the years as mainstays?
  • How can educators provide a meaningful and relevant experience (aka incorporate instructional technology into instructional practice when exposing students to the realities of the work world) while also keeping students accountable to WASL standards?
  • Can inappropriate information on My Space sabotage a college application and/or employment?
  • What are the potential dangers for embracing technology in the classroom? Do youth generally feel safe on-line? If not, do they feel they have recourse to address a threatening or harassing cyber-environment?
  • They say that technology gets cheaper as time passes, but don't we incur more expense by buying more gadgets?
  • Does the school district really need everything it buys or is it just attempting to keep up with the bells and whistles.

Wow, reads like a set up to me. Any thoughts as I think about how to escape this potential mine field?

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Working Today: But What About Tomorrow

It has been awhile since I last published so a lot of "stuff" is rattling around in this little brain of mine. I continue to be focused on and frustrated by the changes we need to consider if we are to make our schools places where kids and adults want to be. What does this mean beyond bringing gadgets used outside of school into the school house?

Some of the things that I am beginning to know are important for this significant shift from my reading, conversations, and reflections include:

  • Knowledge is changing in this new world where anyone with access can influence what it is and how it is used.

  • In this world we must find ways for kids to own the learning, to create the contexts for acquiring and using knowledge in ways meaningful to them.

  • Teachers must become comfortable with owning their own learning with technology in and outside the classroom. It can not continue to be a sit and get, they must experiment with it and discover how it can enhance their personal and professional lives. They must be able to add value to inservice learning by teaching themselves.

  • We must teach our kids how to teach themselves so that they can successfully adapt to an exponential world of change. This requires metacognition and sharing our own learning strategies. This works best when we are not the expert, when we are in an authentic learning situation like I find myself in with VISTA, blogs, wikis, and the list goes on.

  • We are approaching a time when kids will not tolerate sit and get. There are too many options in place and around the corner to actively engage with and control their learning.

  • We must engage our parents like we have not been able to do in the past. They must understand and support change if we are to continue with stable funding at the local level and if they are to be true partners in their children's learning.

What priority should I and we be giving these thoughts as we struggle to identify and implement aligned curriculum, common assessments, and Classroom 10? For me, it has become one of my highest priorities because I believe that we must change our environments as we consider what a Classroom 10 looks and sounds like. The stakes are too high to ignore. How to create this focus given all that we are doing and are expected to do and how to allocate resources for this effort has become the thing that keeps me awake. How to support shifts in our thinking and decision making that don't feel like demand without support is the struggle that I encounter almost daily.

Enough for now, have a great day!

Thursday, September 27, 2007


I heard a new word yesterday used in our Technology Summit meeting. We should be "embedding" technology, not "integrating" it into our curriculum. I knew I had recently read about this and had seen the visual that was used during the meeting. Where was that, a sometimes difficult question with my current short term memory capacity.

So, where did I go? Right to my RSS feeds. I found it this morning in a short period of time, but two things struck me as I was looking. If I had bookmarked it using the tag "embedded" I could have found it much more quickly. I am almost embarrassed to say it, but I have still not been able to successfully change how I store and process information. I still, at times, print something so I have a hard copy instead of using the tools available to me that I know work. Old habits are indeed difficult to break, but I still keep trying.

The second thing was the importance of the information, who should know, and how we make decisions about when and what to share. If you read the site you can see the importance of the fundamental shift he suggests. Yet, if you were not at the meeting you might not be aware of it. Critical people in our system with responsibility for curriculum development were not at the meeting to hear this shift in how we think about technology tools. I know I still use the word integrate. Yes, we can become overwhelmed with information, but we need some structure in place to share "critical" information that will impact our work. Again, who and where will this take place. Right now I err on the side of sending a lot to a few people in the Teaching and Learning department. Sometimes I think they may have seen it because they read similar blogs and literature, but I send it knowing they can quickly delete. Should I be sending more to the ELT, to others?

This shift in thinking and action is important because it talks about the tools becoming a part of the learning environment, not something we try to fit into a lesson. It is why I think one of our priorities must be in identifying what it means to be technological and informational literate. Embedding this into the documents that drive our curriculum and then identifying for teachers and students the context for that learning, creates the situation described in the Thinking Stick. If you go to the blog post for the next day the conversation is continued with examples from classrooms.

If you keep these thoughts in mind and read this post about the future of textbooks, it makes you wonder what the classroom of the future needs to look and sound like.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

"Inbox Zero": Is it Possible?

I want to share some information from Wesley Fryer's blog about e-mail and the concept of "inbox zero", or an empty box. I have shared my thoughts with many who have inboxes that take up to two hours a day and always "refill" by the next day. The reading resonated with me because I always try to leave the day with nine or fewer in my in box. Sometimes it is difficult, but it has forced me to consider how and when I respond. The number nine is arbitrary, but it works for me.

In the blog he identifies the work of two others, David Allen and Merlin Mann, that talk about edges and building walls so that we control e-mail and not the other way around. One thing that caught my attention was the thought of mapping what we say are the important things to do in our job against what we do. Where would answering e-mail be in this comparison?

I have not yet reached "inbox zero" and don't know that it is even a target for me. I do know, however, that when I made the decision to move to "nine" it opened up time for other things. I took the time to view a video by Mann with some ideas on how to make this happen. It is about an hour, but the presentation is 32 minutes with questions. You may want to view it if you find yourself spending hours daily trying to reduce your inbox.

Enough for now, have a great day.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Wiki vs. Google-docs: Which to Choose?

Well, I had the same problem again that is part of the reason why I haven't entered anything for awhile. This time I asked Walt to problem solve for me. After a few minutes the problem fixed itself. Of course I waited too long to post and had the same problem, but obviously it again changed to allow me to post. The good news is that I can blog, the not so good news is I probably didn't do anything last time to make it work and I still don't know what to do if it reoccurs. Oh, the frustrations of a beginning blogger.

I came across a question in Doug Johnson's blog asking what is the difference between Google-docs and a wiki. It made me feel good that even he was struggling with this. I have had conversations with Dawn and Kimberly about this because they prefer a Wiki and I prefer Google-docs. I think that it may be partly due to the fact that it is for each of us the first thing we tried. Based on the number of changes posted to their recent wiki, they win hands down as I have not seen the same success with my principal Google-docs site. I wonder if they think by ignoring it my latest new fad will just disappear. I just might surprise them soon though.

Anyway, I liked reading the comments to his posted questions. It made me change some of my thinking about these tools. I wonder what it would feel like to get that many comments. Boy that was wishful thinking.

Enough for now, have a great day.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Me and Business Meetings!

I just encountered my first real issue in trying to create a new posting. I ended up pushing a lot of new keys that took me to places that I won't remember, but I did learn how to delete a post and ended up here.

After our Tuesday ELT meeting I have now rediscovered my inability to plan for and facilitate quality business meetings that contain a mix of discussion and action items. I spent time planning and discussing with others items that needed to be included and the time that each would require. Once again, it didn't work. Though something of value was realized it should not have taken four hours.

I don't want to believe that I am that bad at facilitating because I know quite a lot about the process, but it is becoming more and more difficult not to own that judgment. I would guess that the parking lots are certainly supporting that conclusion.

In an effort to feel just a little better, I am wondering if it may also be a question about traditional business meetings in a system of 7000 students, 800 employees, and about 25 administrators sitting in a room with different issues, needs, mental models, and ladders that we bring. Perhaps meeting the second week with what I now see as a ridiculously long agenda added to the problem. The principal C & I meetings have a different feel though they to sometimes seem to have some of the same characteristics that trouble me in our ELT business meetings.

I would welcome any suggestions you might have for me. How do you make your business meetings dynamic opportunities that people can't wait to attend?

Monday, September 10, 2007

Sharing from others

Thought I would share an e-mail from Amy about an important learning from the first week of school at TMS. I think I need to get a copy of the book. What have you learned that would be important for the other members of your leadership team to know? Sharing our experiences and seeking support and feedback are indicators of the professional learning community that we aspire to become.

I just have to follow up on our conversation on Wednesday. --If I had a blog, it would go on there. After going through classrooms on Friday, I had a whole new perspective on the internalization of using active learning strategies to "review learned information." I saw strategies we taught on waiver days last year or things I have modeled in almost every classroom I went into. It was an "ah ha" for me that I/we have taught active learning strategies as a way to review information. The next step is to teach active learning strategies to give information or have students discover information. One of my teachers also gave me a book to read "the Zen of Teaching" (takes less than an hour to read) which emphasizes the importance of the first day as an opportunity to bond with students and gives examples on how to do that. Next year, I am going to use pieces from that book to really set up the importance of first day. I need to find a way to help teachers realize that the "ritual" of going over all the rules and expectations in front of the class for the entire 60 minutes is a TTWWADI. Kids know how to behave the first 4 days of class, not going over the rules the first day won't change that.

While I know engaging activities will only bring us to Classroom 5, until we train teachers on integrating habits of mind/thinking skills into lessons, it at least takes us to a place where students will want to be in the classroom.

I also read the following today in the Blue Skunk blog that you might have heard me say a few times, though I have not yet reached the conclusion about burning it all. I agree that we need to be WILLING to, but I have faith that we can meet needs without this step. Teaching them to teach themselves is a fundamental shift that must be made for these young people to be successful when they leave us. I need to reflect on the concept of the learning lifestyle as opposed to lifelong learning, but it sounds and feels good.

The schools that I attended in the 1950s and ’60s tried very hard to teach me how to be taught. I believe that this is one of the shifts that we have to achieve as we try to retool classrooms. We need to do less of..
teaching kids how to be taught,
and instead,
teach them to teach themselves.
I think that the point is not that everyone is going to have 10.2 jobs between the ages of 18 and 38. Many of us will only have one job. But how many times will that one job change? 10.2 times? Perhaps not, but when it changes, who’s going to teach the new skills?
We need to stop teaching literacy, and teach learning literacy.
We need to stop teaching literacy skills, and teach literacy habits.
We need to stop thinking about lifelong learning, and instead, work toward every student leaving our schools with a learning lifestyle.
We need to be willing to take every piece of furniture our of our classrooms, clear the walls, burn it all, and start all over again. The world has changed that much.
Anything less is an insult to our children.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

I spent the better part of the last two days in meetings. Yesterday, with Nancy, Dawn, and Connie we focused on the T&L department, priorities, relationships, and processes. It was a very rewarding conversation for me with decisions that I believe will move the system forward and focus on what principals want; a documented curriculum. Nancy and Dawn were very open to reflecting on what we have done and what we may need to do to bring closure to this work that will then allow us to shift our focus to instruction. It would have been a good one to have video taped to use as an example of a skillful conversation where all participants shared private thoughts and used our communication strategies. How blessed we are to have these two people supporting our work.

Today, in one of my meetings I shared some of my thoughts about technology needs with Dawn, Walt, Kimberly, and Ethan. I am concerned that we will become so project focused that we will lose sight of the need for documentation of technology skills as well as applications. I am also concerned with the expectations that are being created for these people to be the support for all staff member's questions and needs. We need to revisit and reinforce the need for a common understanding of job functions and priorities for these people.

I am so thankful to be working here with quality people focused on important work. Though advancing in age I find myself energetic and even more committed to assisting you in our Classroom 10 work. I look forward to skillful conversations with each of individually and collectively.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

I Can Relate to the FEAR FACTOR

I came across this article in one of the blogs I read about the Fear Factor. It describes me before this summer very well. I was the one very comfortable and PROUD that I could use e-mail, WORD, Excel, and Powerpoint. On the other hand, I was becoming better read about other things like blogs, wikis, social benchmarking, . . . the list goes on, but unwilling to try them. I was fearful that if I couldn't figure it out where would I go, who would help me without making me feel stupid, and a whole list of other excuses. Finally, about the first part of August I just said ok get with it. If you can't use it why expect it of others. Of course, now you have to put up with me in more ways than before.

I believe the same is true for all of us. We will be expecting our teachers to creatively use technology in our classrooms and many will have this built in fear factor such as If I push that button will it make it all go away. I like the suggestion in the article about creating the opportunity for exploration with support! I have spent a lot of time over the past month learning through mistakes and I have learned that asking someone more knowledgeable than me or willing to learn with me makes the experience more productive and fun.

Where are you on the fear factor continuum? What are you exploring and who provides the support? We all have our reasons why we may not be currently engaged in new learning around technology: no time; I have enough on my plate right now; Walt and his people will do it. I wonder what reasons teachers will have and how we will respond to their reasons?

Friday, August 31, 2007

Hope for the Electronics Industry - Uncertainty for Education

Though the technology addressed in this article is far beyond my knowledge base, the last sentence caught my attention. Hope for the electronics industry! Wow, I didn't know they needed hope. Things are pretty fast to me already and when I think about them getting faster and cheaper within the next decade it again drives home the question; What are we preparing these kids to do?

Jukes talked about these next order changes opening the door for nano and bio technologies that are beyond my current ability to understand just last week and now we see they are getting closer. What doe it mean for us?

Where is the "invention" that gives us hope? It isn't going to come from a "thing"; it must by necessity, come from adaptive change at system, building, and classroom level where we demonstrate that all kids learning the right stuff drives our behavior. I wonder if we can embrace all those "things" to make this come alive in our classrooms?

Check out the short video on this phone coming out next year from Nokia.

Today is blogger day and I'm supposed to recommend 5 blogs. I could give you 5 from my list of about 20, but I'll give you a list that comes from Dangerously Irrelevant, one of my favorites.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Trying to Improve Community Engagement

We just finished another meeting with our Community Relations Committee talking about how we can better engage the community in the work that we are doing. Michele did a great job using a third grade science unit to identify the differences between a 1, 5, and 10 classroom. The conversation resulted in information and ideas about creating knowledge base with our community that I will share with our planning committee.

Knowing how to engage the community and with what content is difficult at best. I believe that these people will help us become better at this. One area where this is critical is with the use of technology. We need to be sharing now what is happening so that over time community members and parents know what we are doing, that we are expending resources wisely, and that it is influencing learning and teaching.

One idea that emerged here was the important role that teachers have in conveying information through their students. For example, they can ask students to thank their parents for providing the opportunity for document cameras and projectors and also share how these tools are supporting enhanced learning environments. What other simple ways can we identify to keep this communication ongoing to inform parents and create the situation where voting yes next time becomes not an argument, but a necessity? I encourage you to begin conversations with staff on additional ways to enhance communication around technology and share with us what emerges.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Personal Devices - A Motivational Tool or A Nightmare?

Some of you may read Warlick's blog. If not, here is his recent post that certainly reflects our current situation. The message is clear that if we can't find ways to open our schools other "forms" of schooling will emerge that draw students away.

Dawn and Kimberly have drafted a procedure for guidance, but the real test will be how we respond to what we know will happen as we open up to personal devices. We need to learn and share experiences as we struggle with this important change.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Well, we did it. Sorry for the mix up with the handouts and questions you identified for focus. Jukes did, however, have them reflect on their own questions and the one thing that they could do in class the first week of school. That one thing they identified might be a point of departure for your follow up conversations next week.

He did not support our Classroom 10 vision with our words and documents though the challenges and changes he identified are certainly embedded in this work. The dinner opportunity was wonderful, we went an hour longer than planned. Here, he did validate our work and much of what he advocated for we are doing. Thanks to Amy for capturing and already sharing some of the sites and information he shared in response to our questions. There will be more as we get online to find the resources he identified.

The man has unbelievable energy and passion for the work. I went to the dinner tired, but left energized and thinking. Hence this entry as I reflect on what I learned, could have done differently, need to do to support your work, worry about what the teachers are saying and how they will respond, and . . .

I look forward to you sharing your thoughts and the feedback you receive from teachers.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

You might want to check this slide presentation out as you think about what you will be saying and doing to follow up on Jukes. I may have sent it at another time, but reviewing it this morning again hit me about what it is we need to do with our kids. It drives home the point that we do not know what the future is that we are preparing them for and if we accept this the most important thing we can do for them is to teach them to teach themselves! I wonder if this is part of what we are beginning to call "information literacy" whatever that is?

Well, busy time of year and the last thing you need is more reading. I find myself both excited and apprehensive about tomorrow, see you then.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Friday and Change

In thinking about Jukes this Friday and Classroom 10 I continue to focus on the importance of change in our leadership work. We must ensure that we intentionally plan for the reactions that teachers will have to his message and to the formal rollout of our Outcomes and Indicators. They will be varied depending on things such as years in Tahoma, building taught at, content area taught, grade level and department, status of district curriculum, . . .We must have system and building cohesion in the mesages given and response to questions and issues that will result from the day. How do I prioritize this given the time of year and mutiple needs you face is one of my current struggles. Suggestions would be appreciated.

With my belief in successful change emerging from see/feel and the need for action not long range planning documents, our role takes center stage if we are to take advantage of the system commitment in dollars and time on Friday. The questions we have identifed for Friday are a good starting point, but only that. This work must continue to be visible and we msut find the key to touch teachers at their emotional level.

Our experience tells us that sustainging successful change across all classrooms is difficult. This article that I recently read confirms for me the difficulty and need for moral purpose and reaching emotions in our work.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

One of the books I shared at the retreat was Change Leadership by Wagner and Kegan. Today, as I was reviewing Education Week and one of my RSS feeds, Leader Talk, I found reference to an article by Wagner. In the article he identifies five “Habits of Mind” for change leadership that are essentially five questions that when pursued can lead to more effective methods for dealing with critical issues. It forced me to stop and think again about change and about how we work through those critical issues that surface in our work. Do we start by having common understanding of the issues and the resolution that we seek? Hmm?

The five questions are sequential as identified below.

· What is the problem we are trying to solve, or the obstacle we are trying to overcome, and what does it have to do with improving teaching and learning?
· What are our strategies for solving this problem, and how and why do we think implementation of these strategies will cause the change that’s needed—what’s our “theory of action”?
· Who (teachers, parents, students, community) needs to understand what, in order to “own the problem” and support the strategies we’re implementing?
· Who is accountable for what for implementation of this strategy to be successful, and what do they need to be effective?
· What evidence (observable changes in short-term outcomes or behaviors) will we track that will tell us whether our strategies are working?

As we enter into what some of us see as a minor shift and others of us see as a major change thinking about these questions takes on greater significance for me. Should this difference be creating more dissonance for me? I know I tend to cringe when we have this conversation and body language in the room does not make me feel more comfortable. So many things to consider on this journey.