Tag Archives: leading

What’s an Education That’s Worth Having?

[In 2014, I wrote a post on technology and pedagogy that was recently circulated on Twitter.  It reminded me that it is time to update the thinking in that post.]

Simon Breakspear asked the question, “What is an Education That’s Worth Having?” at #uLead15 three months ago.  The answer is complex, and context driven, but, I think we have some ideas.

What's an Education Worth Having?

For me, in 2015, that education includes digital literacies.

We often hear educators say that technology is “just a tool”.  In some situations, this is true.  Technology can be a tool to help students learn traditional content.

But it isn’t true in all cases.  Technology is so much more than a tool. Because of technology, we can now exist in both physical and digital spaces.

The competencies required to thrive and succeed in digital spaces are different from those required to succeed in our physical world, and more and more, these two worlds are inseparable.

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Our children exist in digital space and physical space seamlessly, except, in some cases, in school (and, except for those children who still have no access to the internet or to devices).

The Future of the Principalship in Canada

A recent study of the role of Canadian Principals shows that cyberbullying and policy issues related to social media is the #2 concern across the country.

Why is this the case?

I think we have done a huge disservice to our children.  We’ve known for a very long time that kids can communicate, access photos and share online, but by prohibiting this behaviour in schools – by taking the stance that it is not okay to use devices in school – we have neglected to teach them the competencies required to be successful citizens in the online environment.

So who will teach them now?

Unless we truly believe that digital literacies are important and that the competencies required to be successful in the future must be taught in school, nothing will change.

We need to ensure that our education leaders have these competencies.

Teach and Learn for Diversity. Use Technology to Engage Student Leadership.

Use technology for creative learning and good citizenship

Full immersion in digital spaces is arguably the best way for people to develop these competencies (Doug Belshaw, The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies) and to understand how best to develop them in others.  This requires the use of a number of devices (and reliable access to the internet). Deciding what device is best for what purpose is part of the learning.  It also requires time to immerse and try and play and network and learn.  Educators need these opportunities.

If the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, the end is near.

We can’t let our children continue to play online without the knowledge and skills to be safe, to be responsible, and to lead change in the digital environment.

The change begins by building confidence and competence in digital literacies with our education leaders.

 

Resources:

Doug Belshaw, The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies

Identifying, Scaffolding and Credentialling Skills in an Ever-Changing Digital Environment (Doug Belshaw)

Digital Literacies Wiki (Doug Belshaw)

Mozilla Web Literacy Map

Mozilla Web Literacy

Digital Literacy on #MNLead (June 28, 2015)

Tweets mentioning @simonbreakspear, #uLead15

On Twitter – #digilit

Tom Whitby: The Myth of Innovation in Education

Health and Wellbeing: The Importance of Digital Literacies (from JISC)

 

Scaffolding Connected Leadership: You Can Start Here

Does it feel, sometimes, like you have been so busy working that you haven’t had time to stop and recognize how much the work has actually changed?

The world is changing quickly. Leaders in education need to figure out how to keep up.

#OSSEMOOC  gets it. This month, we are putting out little bits, or chunks, of learning to support you in getting connected.

Go here to sign up (signing up isn’t necessary, but it lets up help connect you with others as we go through the month).

Here are the screencasts we have posted so far on the OSSEMOOC site (https://ossemooc.wordpress.com)

 

Please share this information with leaders who may not see it online.

What is OSSEMOOC Anyway?

Leading in a Networked World

Using Twitter Without Logging in

 

Webpages for Professional Learning

Following Blogs by Email

Where is Your Blog?

If you are an educator, you need a blog.

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It’s 2015.

Where are you creating your digital identity?

Where do you share resources with other educators?

Where do you reflect on your practice?

Where are you having conversations about learning and teaching?

Where do you model the learning we want to see in every classroom?

How do you demonstrate the Standards of Practice of the profession?

Where do you maintain a professional portfolio?

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Thank you to Dean Shareski (@shareski) for sharing this slide. The image links to the source on slideshare.

 

Last evening we had a rich conversation in the #OSSEMOOC open mic around why educators are not blogging.

1. Not enough time.

Educators are the hardest working people I know, hands down.  No contest.  They would NEVER think of not preparing for classes or not providing feedback on student work.

Isn’t blogging and sharing and reflecting just as important? How long does it take to share a few thoughts online?  How long does it take to upload a file to share?

 

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2. Fear of judgment.

Creating a safe environment for risk-taking is a classroom priority. Why do we make it hard for our colleagues to share their practice? Do our students feel they will be judged when we ask them to share? How do we model to our students that learning and sharing and growing together is a valuable use of our time?

3. Don’t know how.

Get started here:

Start connecting here: https://ossemooc.wordpress.com/2014/11/01/ten-minutes-of-connecting-day-1/

Why you need to make thinking visible through blogging here:

https://ossemooc.wordpress.com/2014/11/22/ten-minutes-of-connecting-day-22-making-thinking-visible-through-blogging/

Why you need to start your own blog here:

https://ossemooc.wordpress.com/2014/11/23/ten-minutes-of-connecting-day-23-yes-its-time-to-start-your-own-blog/

How to start your blog here:

https://ossemooc.wordpress.com/2014/11/24/ten-minutes-of-connecting-day-24-beginners-guide-to-starting-a-blog/

How others use their blogs (modelling) here: https://ossemooc.wordpress.com/2014/11/25/ten-minutes-of-connecting-day-25-you-have-a-blog-now-what/

How to turn your blog into a professional portfolio here:

https://ossemooc.wordpress.com/2014/11/26/ten-minutes-of-connecting-day-26-your-blog-as-your-portfolio/

Making your blog YOUR online space for sharing:

https://ossemooc.wordpress.com/2014/11/28/ten-minutes-of-connecting-day-27-more-blog-considerations/

4. It’s not really valued.

You are right.  It isn’t. At least not yet.

Until we teach in the B.Ed. program that open reflective practice and demonstration of the Standards of Practice of the profession is a necessity, we won’t see it.

Until we ask to see a blog with every job application, be it teacher, principal or system leader, we won’t value it.

Until every PQP and SOQP course makes open sharing, connecting, collaborating, reflecting and learning important, we won’t insist on it.

 

But let’s not wait!

The value in reflecting, sharing, conversing, connecting and honouring our amazing work in schools is obvious.

Let’s tell our own stories of the learning happening in our classrooms and schools.  The stories are powerful.

Share them widely.

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Special thanks to @timrobinsonj for sharing pixabay.com

 

 

We Have a Dream

“I have a dream.”

Millions were inspired by those words.

Now if Martin Luther King had said, “I have a strategic plan” or “I have a set of performance indicators”, do you think the effect would have been the same?

It is a dream, or a vision – a shared vision, that motivates groups of people to rise above expectations.

Andy Hargreaves pointed this out last spring  (May 1, 2014) at the Ontario Leadership Congress in Toronto (also in his TEDx Talk).

In his recent book, Uplifting Leadership, Hargreaves reflects on seven years of global research to list four characteristics of organizations that have risen to the top with seemingly very few resources.

The number one characteristic is the relentless pursuit of a shared dream or vision.

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Dreamcatcher image shared under a Creative Commons Attribution License by Chie.

 

Mary Jean Gallagher tells us that schools must be places where children can realize their “best possible, most richly-imagined future” (Jan. 17, 2014, Toronto)

As we begin this new school year, I wonder…

Do we share those dreams with our students? Are we relentlessly pursuing them together?

 

Featured image shared under a CC attribution license by katerha

The Loneliness of the First Follower

It’s harder to follow than it is to lead.

Timber and Bailey, June 2014
Image by Kira Fry, used with permission.

 

Leaders have passion for what they do.  They have practiced sticking out their necks, taking risks, trying new things, and failing.

For leaders, being the lone dancer in the crowd is their norm.

Dancing to the music is the right thing to do, even if it is all alone.

But first followers…  Life is very different for them.

Followers are straddling two worlds.  While one foot is firmly planted in their peer group, their team, their home position, they have suddenly taken a step out of their comfort zone.

Perhaps it is because they have heard music they can dance to for the first time.  Perhaps the song has finally come along that they have waited all night for.  Or perhaps they have been dancing with the door closed for a long time.

But first followers have the most to lose.

The leader might sit down again, leaving the follower all alone, dancing to a different tune than everyone else on the hill.

The leader might keep right on dancing to a different tune, ignoring the new partner.

Those sitting on the hill might tell the first follower that he is no longer welcome to sit with them.  He should go off and just keep dancing with his new partner.

Those sitting on the hill might grab the first follower’s legs and try to pull him back down.  They are afraid to try to keep up, and he is making them look slow.

But it is the first follower that other followers emulate.

First followers are critical to the movement.

First followers are catalysts for change.

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Photo Credit: h.koppdelaney via Compfight cc

As a school or system leader, how will you nurture your first followers this school year?

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(Shared here by Stacey Wallwin @wallwins http://swallwin.wordpress.com/2014/05/21/are-you-nuts-maybe-just-a-little/)

“It takes guts to be a first follower.  You stand out…”

“Being a first follower is an unappreciated form of leadership.”

…for Susan

 

Sharing our Passion for Connecting Education Leaders: TEDxKitchenerED

Mark Carbone and I recently took advantage of the opportunity to share our passion for connecting education leaders at the TEDxKitchenerED event.

If you are wondering about #OSSEMOOC, here is the story of how we are working to connect leaders, and helping Ontario learners, to thrive in the complexities of teaching and learning in today’s rapidly changing world.

Digging Into Curation

There is a vast amount of information online, and digging into it can sometimes feel too overwhelming to even begin.  Yet our students will need to be quite adept at this process as they navigate the new realities of a digitally-connected world.

What best practices do we need to model as leaders to ensure our students are gaining the skills they need to be able to find, organize, create, make meaning, and share?

Sue Waters tackles this questions.

This piece was originally posted on the #OSSEMOOC blog for the June “pic and post” event.

 

Digging Into Curation.

After #EdCampWR ~ Where To Now (Part 1)?

What an exciting day!

Educators gave up Saturday to meet in a school and learn together, and shared the learning online for all who wanted to join in the conversation.  It’s powerful stuff, and as we all reflect on how best to meet the needs of all learners in the system, these success stories move our thinking forward.

What did I learn? Lots!  Here is part 1: the morning…

First, Mark and I learned lots about technology.  Mark has been playing with combinations of video and livestreaming, figuring out how he can be a catalyst to spread this f2f learning around the province and indeed the world.  As we know, the one doing the work is doing the learning, and Mark did most of the tech learning, but I still needed to figure out how to best follow the day on my end.

There is other learning that is easily overlooked.  Just seeing the board showing the sessions helps me to understand what people want to learn about.

Screen Shot 2014-02-22 at 11.33.43 PM

As I watched the LiveStream for the first session, I heard someone talk about the immensity of the difficulty to effect change at the system level.  Where do you start?  How can you be effective?

Mark and I texted about this thinking and we believe this would be a great #OSSEMOOC question.  It’s also a terrific topic for a blog post – something to reflect on current thinking, then build as I learn more and as my thinking evolves.

And here is a key point – *access*.

Access is vital.  Fullan, in “A Rich Seam“, often cites internet access as the critical piece in moving to “excellence”.  WRDSB obviously understands this.

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I was able to listen to/watch much of the Digital Citizenship discussion and these are my key learnings:

edcampwr digcit stream

  • Students have capacity. Student voice must be central in our work on digital citizenship.
  • The concept of digital citizenship continues to evolve and change. It is not static. We need to keep up.
  • So much of our work in #digcit is reactive.  Let’s make it proactive and positive (including modelling) instead.
  • How do we support/create digital leaders in our schools?
  • Where do we start on all of this at the system level?

(Incidentally, I curate #digitalcitizenship resources as part of our ongoing OSAPAC work on creating a valuable #digcit resource for Ontario teachers.)

When Learning Has Nothing To Do With It

Screen Shot 2014-02-17 at 1.38.53 PMLast week, Jan Wong, currently an Assistant Professor of Journalism and Communications at St. Thomas University in New Brunswick, wrote an article for the Chronicle Herald outlining her concern about her Journalism students cheating on quizzes.

The sentences from her post that most resonated with me are below.

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It should be no surprise at all that some students at a university are “conditioned to work for marks and only marks”.

The only criterion for acceptance to the university is “high marks”.

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When universities filter applicants based on marks, so that only students with really great marks can enter the institution, the students who arrive and attend class there will include those who have learned to play a game very well, and who will continue to play that game when they arrive.

Any senior high school teacher can attest to the fact that learning is not the priority for many grade 11 and 12 students.  The priority is getting the highest two-digit number possible through whatever means are necessary so that he/she can get access to a university program.

The ramifications of this selection process are numerous, and often do not relate to learning at all.  Some are, in fact, very negative.

  • Parents may bully the teachers who don’t give the needed or expected grades.
  • Students may select courses based on who they know will give them the marks they want.
  • Parents will track down a Principal in the summer and demand that their child’s marks be changed.
  • Students tell teachers that the mark they have received for their assignment is “unacceptable” and that they will need something higher.
  • “Cheating” is rampant on tests, exams and assignments.
  • Students learn to seek out exams from previous years, tests and student notes from previous years.
  • They learn how best to get as many marks as possible on every test and exam.
  • They will do almost anything for “bonus marks”, and they learn to manipulate a teacher to offer those “bonus marks”.

Students and parents figure out how to play the game.

Alfie Kohn has been writing about the problem with grades for many years.  One of his best articles is “From Degrading to De-Grading”  (http://www.alfiekohn.org/teaching/fdtd-g.htm), where he explores, among other things, the observations that grades reduce a student’s preference for challenging tasks, the quality of their thinking, and their interest in learning.

The lack of interest in learning by students who have been told that marks are what matters is well-documented, as in the observation below from Janice Fiamengo:

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http://pjmedia.com/blog/the-unteachables-a-generation-that-cannot-learn/?singlepage=true

Those who do well are called “good students”.  Some schools give out awards to students with the highest marks, encouraging competition instead of collaborative learning, and reinforcing that marks are what is really important at that school.

While there is a large and growing movement to put learning at the centre of the what school is about, as long as that final mark is the only requirement for university entrance, marks will remain the focus.

And universities will get what they have selected for.  When students don’t get the marks they want at university, they will react exactly as they have learned to react.

Once again, Janice Fiamengo:

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http://pjmedia.com/blog/the-unteachables-a-generation-that-cannot-learn/?singlepage=true

Fortunately, even the straight-A students are questioning  their school experience and why “marks” are seen as so important. Afraj Gill from “An A+ Student Regrets His Grades“:

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Learning to manipulate teachers to get good grades becomes an art form in itself: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J8s13_yOLeE

We need to deeply question a system with these values.  Is this the best way to graduate innovators and entrepreneurs?

I believe that we are rethinking what schools are for, how to nurture natural curiosity, and how to use focused innovation in our teaching in the K-12 sector.  I also see evidence that some post-secondary schools are beginning to understand that marks are not the best predictor of learning.

But as long as marks are the sole filter for entrance to university, we will be challenged to put learning, not grades, at the centre of what schools are for.

*Add-On -> A favourite post from @KarlFisch: http://thefischbowl.blogspot.ca/2013/10/your-gda-is-more-important-than-your-gpa.html

@sethgodinblog: http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2014/02/doing-what-gets-rewarded.html

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http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2014/02/doing-what-gets-rewarded.html

The Work-Life-Blogging Balance Challenge

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Jenni’s question this week is one that needs more that 140 characters to answer.

I think we have to begin with why we even bother to blog.  It begins with a fundamental belief that knowledge is to be shared and that learning comes from conversations.  It isn’t enough to just learn any more.  We need to learn, connect, reflect and share.  We expect our students to do this every day.  We need to model that for them.

We need to make our learning visible.

When we recognize blogging and sharing our learning as a priority, it becomes easier to do it.

Blogging
Sculpture by Ai Weiwei, Toronto City Hall, October 2013

Before blogging becomes a habit, though, professional learning needs to be a habit.  This was stated nicely in #satchat today.

Twitter PD

So how can professional learning become part of your life? Here are a few simple suggestions:

1) Listen to podcasts, all the time.  I hate mundane tasks like vacuuming and raking, but plugged into a great podcast makes the chore simply listening and learning time.  Suggestions?   Get ASCD’s Whole Child Podcast on your iPhone, along with CBC Ideas, HBR Ideacast (great stuff for school and system leaders), Moving at the Speed of Creativity with Wes Fryer (once listened to these every commute – learned a ton from Wes), CBC Spark (I’m a bit partial to Episode 195!).  Those are my favourites, but I could go on forever here with other suggestions.

2) Read your notes!  How often do you go to PD sessions and take notes.  Do you ever read them again?  You should!  As you learn and grow, some parts of previous learning sessions begin to make more sense.

3) Read great books.  Don’t know where to start?  Ask your PLN on Twitter.  Some recent favourites? Intentional Interruption by Stephen Katz and Lisa Ain Dack, Professional Capital by Andy Hargreaves and Michael Fullan.  I am certain your PLN can suggest many, many more.

4) Read other bloggers. Follow blogs that are being written by other great thinkers and educators.  Ontario teachers can use this list to start: http://www.scoop.it/t/ontario-edublogs.

Others I like to read include Alfie KohnSeth Godin, Grant Wiggins, Diane Ravitch, David Warlick.

If you don’t have time to read a blog, you can always “listen” to one.  Check out how Darren Kuropatwa uses his commuting time to work to post to his blog – “while walking“.Screen shot 2013-11-16 at 9.44.13 PM

5. Enrol in a MOOC!  There are so many MOOCs for learning out there.  Try Coursera if you can’t find what you want elsewhere.

6. Connect Online.  Enable Feedly, use social bookmarking, connect on Twitter.  Maximize sharing and connecting to learn from other educators.  There are endless ways to do this.

 

But what to share?

Sometimes just sharing your learning is so worthwhile.  I often do this after a particularly valuable session at a conference (Catherine Montreuil, John Malloy).

Sometimes things happen in your day that inspire a post about a topic you are learning about or that you want to explore further.

For example, this past week, I was explaining my new role in promoting digital learning throughout Ontario to my optometrist when he started into a rant on how we had better get Facebook out of schools.  It reminded me of how much work we have to do to teach the public about the importance of digital learning – a blog post for another day.

Doug Peterson (@dougpete  <– follow him) explains very nicely how he comes up with his blog topics here.

 

How can you organize your learning, your experiences, your blog ideas, your blog post catalysts?  There are many tools available.

Recently, I have started using a free app called Notability.

notability

It allows me to use handwriting or voice to quickly record my thinking.  blog layout in notability

I can organize it by topic.

notability organizes written notes

When I synch it with my other devices, the documents download to my laptop in pdf format.

Adobe notes from notability

I also use my phone to record ideas while walking or hiking.  Then, as I start to write the blog, I often switch to Evernote, which is synched across all of my devices and where I store and tag much of my online learning.

evernote organization

evernote take a note

And sometimes I even use good old-fashioned paper when I am really trying to sort things out.

John Malloy visual

Most educators I know are trying to do too much with too little time.  Having time to exercise, get outside, relax and heal has to be a priority.  Sometimes, this is the best time to reflect and consolidate learning, and as you make connections, why not share those ideas with your colleagues when you get back?  We are all learning together.

Start the conversation.

Further Reading:

Royan Lee: Writing in Snippets ~ How I Blog