The Power of Networks for School Improvement: Learning with Steven Katz (2)

[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

Just because we work in groups doesn’t mean good things will happen. Not all group work is good work.

What are some of the potential PERILS of learning networks and learning communities?

  • Quality Control – Anything spreads. [We see this in our online Professional Learning Networks]. A bad idea can become a bad idea in a lot of places. Any time we have an interconnected network, things are going to spread and it’s not always the right stuff. Going viral doesn’t mean GOOD things spread, it means things spread.
  • Groupthink – When people come together they typically default to the lowest common denominator of agreement. The natural propensity of a group is to land on something they can all agree on.
  • Diffusion of Responsibility (Social Loafing) – Someone is going to be doing the heavy lifting – and everyone in the group knows someone will do the heavy lifting. Individual accountability goes out the window.
  • Deindividuation – We find this when you lose your own identity. The group identity does not need to be your identity because your identity is what keeps you closest to the context you are working in.

Learning Networks that Influence Student Achievement

The single biggest predictor of student learning and success is the quality of instruction (see video below). Investing in high quality practice is the logical way to improve student learning.

Principal leadership is second only to classroom instruction in influencing the quality of student learning (see image below from Viviane Robinson)

The most impactful dimension of school leadership is the extent to which a leader promotes and participates in teacher learning and development, in service of improving the quality of classroom practice.

If principal participation in teacher learning is the driver, our learning networks must have this at the core.

Teachers Matter from The Learning Exchange (1) on Vimeo.

From Viviane Robinson:

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