Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Reflecting on leadership 
Today was the third day for round two of our Teacher Leader Institute.  Our focus for this round included:

  • Reflection on what the teams have intentionally done to reduce the gap between their current reality as identified in August and an aspiration they created around one component of that reality.
  • A learning opportunity to increase their knowledge of teacher practices that result in quality student talk, a component of our 5D+ Instructional Model.
  • An introduction into a teaching protocol that can be used to share the concept of "interpersonal mush" that forms from the assumptions that are made in conversations.
  • Providing time in the afternoon for the teams to be reflective and make decisions on how to support staff through professional development opportunities.
As always, these sessions were energizing for me and I bring from them much to reflect upon.  In the course of the conversations it became more clear to me the importance of the mental model that teachers bring to their practice and to their lesson designs.  If the mental model that drives a teacher's practice is one where they are driven by the content to cover today, their planning and delivery will be significantly different than a mental model driven by the need to ensure that all students leave the lesson meeting the learning target goal.  If my purpose is to deliver content there is little need for me to be concerned with revisiting the learning target, differentiation, summarizing, student reflection, success criteria, and student talk.  These take on added significance if my intent is to ensure that all students are successful.

So, where are we on our learning journey related to the mental models that drive teacher planning and delivery behavior?  On a continuum with some at both ends and most somewhere in between.  As I reflect on this I am reviewing what the authors of How Did That Happen call "complyment" behavior signified by giving to the work one's hands and feet and buying in at a lower level.  They contrast this with "complete alignment" where people engage not only with their hands and feet, but also with their hearts and mind.  It is no longer doing because it is in one's best interest, but instead because they believe in the changed practices and are committed to making them come alive in their place of work. 

I will continue to engage in conversation around this topic always looking for leverage for leadership teams to move teachers on the continuum.  This becomes more difficult in times of stress and anxiety created by multiple change initiatives and the unknowns that come with them.  The complexity is one of the components of leadership that at the same time make it difficult and rewarding.  

So, what do you think about the difference in planning and delivery driven by these two different mental models or mental models that differ from these two?

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