[The Manitoba Association of School Superintendents (MASS) 2019 Summer Institute includes 3 days of learning with Steven Katz. Here are some of my notes from this learning opportunity.]
You can find all the posts in this series here:
- The Power of Networks for School Improvement (1) Functional and Productive Learning Networks
- The Power of Networks for School Improvement (2) Principal Participation in Learning Networks
- The Power of Networks for School Improvement (3) Creating the Conditions for Focused Professional Learning
- The Power of Networks for School Improvement (4) Focus
- The Power of Networks for School Improvement (5) What are you not doing?
- Learning Conversations Protocol
- Quality Implementation (1)
- Quality Implementation (2)
Educators are the busiest people I know. It’s easy to fall into the trap of being busy all the time. There is no end to activities we could be doing. But if we really ask ourselves what we are trying to achieve, and if we really think about whether what we are doing is leading to achieving our goals, we will start to be able to focus on what is important to do.
Professional learning must be driven by need. Not just a need to learn something on the part of the teacher, but a student learning need that as a system, we are not meeting. When we go in a different direction, doing other very important work, it might look nice to the community but we are pulling time and resources away from urgent student learning needs.
Important, and needs-based, are not always the same things.
In your work, what do you do that creates the solid connection between student learning needs, teacher learning focus, and the corresponding leadership learning needs?
And what are the activity traps in your school division? When we are in activity traps, we are often too busy to even see we are in one. Activity traps suck up time and resources, look pretty and important, but don’t result in meeting the urgent learning needs of the children we serve. It takes the place of the work that really needs to be happening instead.
On a personal note, we need to distinguish between professional learning (supported by public funds) that must be in service of improving learning for children, and self-directed professional learning. Both are important.
I want my personal professional learning to be as open and varied as possible. I need to be able to bring ideas into my leadership work from many different places. Design thinking suggests that this broad base of understanding, and this sampling of ideas from many disciplines, is essential to thinking differently about the complex, adaptive problems we face in education.