[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.]
Creating Networks for School Improvement
We want to move from VERTICAL to HORIZONTAL capacity building so we can learn in at least three ways:
- Learn FROM one another [when I need information I don’t have]
- Learn WITH one another [when we all want to know]
- Learn ON BEHALF OF others [when we learn something we don’t need to know so that we can share it with others in our network who need it]
As we move from vertical learning [e.g., the province tells you what your strategy will be] to horizontal learning [the group uses structures and protocols to determine the right path forward], there are four aspects of the work we need to keep in mind.
Four Key Criteria that make learning networks functional and productive:
- Diversity of opinion – Networks THRIVE on diverse ideas, thoughts and opinions. This is NOT a weakness! Diversity of opinion is essential. [Ensuring compliance and “toeing the party line” limits the ability of networks to solve adaptive problems.]
- Independence – Each person has to feel that they have some agency and control over what they are doing. If people are called out for “going rogue”, diversity of opinion is stifled. [Is your organization about compliance? Or does it embrace the passion work of individuals?]
- Decentralization – The closer you are to the work, the more invested you are in doing lateral learning as part of a learning network.
- Bring it all together – Diversity of opinion, independence and decentralization only work to build strong learning networks if there is a mechanism to bring it all together. There is no learning from, with and on behalf of if we can’t bring all these characteristics together in a meaningful way.
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)