Congratulate them on their new positions as principalI was thinking about the notion of curriculum & instruction and wondering what was the most important thing that new principals needed to hear…we want to be helpful and make a difference…sometimes there are some pieces about human nature that make it difficult to do that.PASS out deck cards, take a card, read the truth, pick one as a table (mentors take a simple vote) that you think really creates a barrier for you to do your work, share the truth identified by each tableFive Simple Truths about Helping: People often do not know that they need help, If people feel “one down” they will resist help, criticism is taken personally, If someone does all the thinking for them people will resist, People aren’t motivated by other people’s goals.Keep this truth in mind as we think about how we maximize learning for all
A principal’s job is huge and complex…I created this Wordle that includes some of the many ideas that are included in the curriculum & instruction umbrellaDepending on your perspective, some of these ideas may be more important than othersAnd these are just the words around staff development and don’t include a visual that might include the many other pieces of your job as principals: school planning councils, parents, christmas concerts, student teachers, newsletters, staff meetings, supervision, broken arms, school assemblies, etceteraHow does one decide what is important? What is the priority?
Jim Knight would suggest the following:We know our responsibility and our goal is to try to ensure every student receives excellent instruction every day in every class.He would see it as the anchor for our work as principals and is central to our mission.
So…How do we get there?How do we get to the place where students are receiving excellent instruction every day in every class? Especially caught in the juxtaposition of these simple truths about helping
Imagine: Your school is the ocean liner, and you are the leader. What is your role? Turn to a neighbour, guess on what your role (eg. The chef) might be and why… and buzz for 60 seconds.Now I’m going to read what Senge suggested over 2 decades ago when he first crafted his seminal work on learning organizations. It’s a long quote but I think it is worth reading.If people imagine their organizations as an ocean line and themselves as the leaders, what is their role? For years, the common answer I received when posting this question to groups of managers was the “captain.” Others might say “the navigator, setting the direction,” or “the engineer below stoking the flame, providing energy,” or even “the social director making sure everyone’s enrolled, involved, and communicating.” While these are legitimate leadership roles, there is another, which in many ways, eclipses them all in importance. Yet rarely do people think of it. The neglected role is that of the designer of the ship. No one has a more sweeping influence on the ship than the designer…It’s fruitless to be the leader in an organization that is poorly designed.”And really, I would take it one step further than Senge. You are the co-designer, the architect of the ship, the designer of the system. That role is critical and it is what makes the difference in a school. Design thinking is what you need to apply to your new school context.Fullan describes it this way….
Just let them read quote.
Just let them read quote again.
Often are practices to improve instruction haven’t really worked…as this cartoon illustrate.The hope is:Go, hear, get inspired, replicate in classroomThe reality has been:Go, hear, get discouraged, no change in classroom, and sometimes it became worse (there actual research that indicates that)It isn’t that workshops are worthless, they have a place in for introducing new concepts, and new information and when connected to application in an actual classroom context.…So if the workshop isn’t the ideal, what really is the key piece…to improving the quality of instruction?
Creating a Culture of LearningIf you want to improve student learning it has to begin with creating a culture of learning that permeates your building
When a school doesn’t have a culture of learning, the landscape is parchedthere is no vitality, no growth in practice and it feels dead
When you intentionally design a culture of learning it brings like to a building, life to professionals, and a sense of meaning to their workEducators love learning, capitalize on what gives them joyYou can start by looking at yourself as someone who can model your own love for learningWhat are learning now? What is captivating your interest? How are you sharing that with others?Share Story: Learning Technology & Twitter
Take a moment to share your own learning…something that you are exciting about Stand up and locate someone new to you
When one person is learning, they get exciting about it and then others want to know about it as wellThere is a certain enthusiasm that spreads and ignites to otherThe schoolhouse becomes a learning organizationIf you think about it in the context of andragogy (teaching adults), learning is a social enterprise, we do it in connection with othersRelationships are keyYou as Principal are the lead learner but others also become lead learners in your buildingRelationships are key to creatinga partnership of learning throughout the schoolTo capitalize on those relationships (and provide an antidote to the simple truths of helping) there are some principles that undergird how we view our role, and the role of teachers, in the process of improving student learningEquality-done with teachers rather than to them, principals as learnerChoice-tchers have choice in what and how they learnVoice-respect the teacher’s voice/perspectiveReflection- is their time and opportunity to reflect on their learning togetherDialogue-is the thinking being exchanged with others to generate new understandingsPraxis-is everyone taking that new information and actually applying in their specific classroom context?When we honour these fundamental principles that value teachers as human beings and equilibriate the relationships, then learning can really begin to take place.
I’ll just land on this quote because I think it really speaks to the centrality of relationships ask key to the growth of all learners in the schoolhouse.I found this on twitter…
When you have created a culture of learning throughout the building, you need to make sure you establish a focus togetherI just want to underscore the word together as it harkens back to ensuring we have respected teacher voice and their ownership in the work of the schoolhouse
If people in the building don’t know which direction they are going, priorities in the classroom are muddledThere are a multitude of directions that teachers can turn with their energyWe put these schools plans together and file them with head office and it is one more thing off our listBut it isn’t really about the school plan—it is about the focus and about establishing the focus together
If we have a 20 page well-crafted plan we may feel like out work is doneHoweverIt isn’t what changes instruction and impacts student learning
As Michael Fullan says
Schools must focus their effortsEveryone needs to be committed to moving in the same directionCan you describe your school’s instructional focus on one page?Is it clear and simple? Does every educator in the building understand it?Does it address the nuts and bolts of instruction?
How are you and how are teachers going to have the time to examine their practice?One of the biggest challenges is finding time, particularly job-embedded time to work on understanding practice.
In the context of the schoolhouse, we are constantly barraged by the tyranny of the urgent. There will be no time to talk about quality instruction unless you are intentional in designing it.You need to help create space for professional learning in your building.There are many, many ways to do that. Each person at this table has experienced different ways of carving out time in the schoolhouse for groups to meet together.In the book Powerful Professional Development, staff development experts donate a whole chapter to suggestions for ways to carve out time for talking …many of them were ways I hadn’t considered.Let’s take a moment to generate a list of ways you can provide time for job-embedded learning.
Give them time to brainstorm together.Have one person from each table share one item from the chart that was an idea new to them.Perhaps there is an idea here there new to you that you can use in your school.
Finally, when we create a culture, have a focus, provide a time for thoughtful dialogue…we need to consider how we might structure that time to maximizing its effectiveness for teachers. We want to move beyond the after school workshop to find ways that provide greater leverage for change.
After they complete the activity, recap:Maximize learning for all we need to have “design thinking” about our schoolsCreate a culture of learningBe clear about your Focus(where you are going)Find a way to make TimeMake sure to have a set of useful tools in your kit that you can share with othersHopefully, when we attend to these key pieces we can meet our goal that: Every student receives excellent instruction every day in every class.
Maximizing learning for all
Maximizing LearningforAllE. CarlsonDirector of InstructionEducation Services, SD #36<br />
Create a culture of learning<br />Establish focus together<br />Find and make time<br />
Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful less you let other people spend it for you.<br />Carl Sandburg<br />Carl Sandburg<br />
Making Time Count<br />At your tables, make a list of all the different ways you can provide job-embedded release time for teachers (eg. Common prep time).<br />Use chart paper to record your ideas.<br />
Create a culture of learning<br />Establish focus together<br />Find and make time<br />Distribute tools<br />
Tool Talk<br />Pick a tool that you’re familiar with as either a participant or the leader using the tool. <br />Find a group of 3 or 4 where at least one person is holding a tool that you have never used or experienced. <br />In your group describe how the tool was used and its impact on improving student learning at your school.<br />
Closing Thought:<br />What if the<br />Hokey Pokey<br />IS<br />what its all about?<br />
Credits:<br /><ul><li>Opening school culture slide graphic by Salvatore Vuono
Creative Commons License Cruise Ship by Ed Yourdon
If I die…http://www.flickr.com/photos/rdhout/4427251342/ by Ron Houtman
Schools without a learning culture. E. Carlson
Most of the remaining photos courtesy of iStockphotos.</li>