Monday, June 28, 2010

PLP's for Administrators

After following a few #edchats and listening to conversation at Cardinal Stritch's Summer Institute for Doctoral students it dawned on me that we have a potential disconnect from the early adopters of technology and the educational leaders who set the culture, direction and tone of learning organizations. As a technological novice, I was struck by the tone that I heard in the two communities. The users - those with technology moxy - wrote about anti-change responses from admins that control decisions. The admins spoke and wrote about the pace of change, security, safety, costs, professional development, and related concerns. How do we merge these two worlds?


In our conversation with technological savvy school leaders at the Summer Institute it became obvious that those who are on the cutting edge of technology are not all digital natives. To help spread the power of this personal learning plan what if every technologically savvy leader adopted three or four colleagues from near or far and helped them establish a blog, twitter account, wiki or google docs?

I was surprised by the rhetoric by some regarding the rational some concluded to admin reluctance on technology which included: "They don't want to change." "They don't do anything anyways." and other tough comments. My experience runs contrary to those conclusions. The folks I work, collaborate, and network with all are willing to try if they have the right support and understanding of the rewards.

So - go out and and pay it forward! Find a receptive colleague and welcome them to the power of social media for professional development!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Pennies for Peace/Schools for All

At the Principal's Center through Cardinal Stritch we heard Dr. Jerene Mortenson present the Pennies for Peace story well documented in the best seller, Three Cups of Tea. This must read for educators documents one man's journey for peace in some of the most politically challenging places in the world - Pakistan and Afghanistan.

During the question and answer session some great questions about moral imperative popped up. Questions focused on what influenced Greg Mortenson, how he did what he did and what is next but the last one caught my attention. The final question really struck me. The audience member wanted to understand the moral dilemma presented by the success of the Pennies for Peace movement compared to the challenges our own country faces with educating all students.

Through fundraising efforts in American and across the world, Greg Mortenson has built 143 schools for 68,000 kids with 42 of them in Afganistan and 6 in Pakistan. This effort contributed to the dramatic explosion of school accessibility in these two countries - in particular the growth from 800,000 kids in school to over 9 million today. This is an incredible accomplishment!

How does that success lay over our own American Education issues - over 1 million dropouts, high unemployment rates in urban settings, etc.?

What changes need to occur to bring the same urgency to our own challenges in the American Education System?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

School Culture? Come on!

Kent Peterson recently spoke to a group of Cardinal Stritch conference attendees and doctoral students. He asked the question - how do people answer the "Where do you work/What do you do?" question? Does it sound like this?
"I work in non-profit."
"Doing what?'
"I work in education."
"Doing what?"
"I work in the K-12 area."
"Doing what?"
"I work as a teacher."
"I work in the Fill-in-the-blank District."
"At what school?"
Reluctantly, "At So and So School."

How can we fix this? In our never ending quest to manage by fact, should we listen to the research about how school culture effects everything that goes on in a school? Michael Fullan once said, "Effective leaders know that the hard work of reculturing is the sine qua non of progress." Great leaders in all sectors including business, education and health care all tend to the culture. To truly realize "Schools for All", formal and informal leaders might want to consider monitoring and influencing school culture.

1. Ask staff to collaborate on identifying three or four songs that best defines the culture. Is it "Take This Job and Shove It" or "We Are the Champions"?
2. Assess the messages you send when you are engaged in the hiring process.
3. Review your formal and informal induction or on-boarding process. Evaluate the messages your newest staff receive in their first few months in the new role.
4. What actions speak to the values of your leadership? Are you in classrooms? Are you collaborating with colleagues?

We are all cultural leaders. If we want to have schools for all we need to read the culture, assess the staff AND student culture, and transform the culture. Terry Deal and Kent Peterson have great ideas in their most recent 2009 publication.

Please consider adding your best idea on how to tend and transform school culture by posting a comment! Regardless of the sector, how do you ensure that negaholics are not empowered?

School Leadership

Read a recent post about how UPS, with something like 90,000 trucks world wide, made a decision to reduce and even eliminate left hand turns on the deliveries. Left turns are expensive. Waiting for traffic, rapid acceleration to avoid accidents and other left hand turn issues cost money. So after analyzing the costs, UPS leveraged routing software to reduce and eliminate left turns. So after careful attention to deployment UPS realized cost avoidance of approximately 10,000 trucks through the savings from avoiding left hand turns. How does that fit in education?

Consider the education sector and think about our left hand turns? What are they? How can we avoid them so as to put the resources in the areas of greatest leverage - our teachers. Would love to read your ideas!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Top 10 Books to Read about Change

Change is afoot in the education sector unlike any time in recent history. If you are looking for guidance here is a list of ten books I consider must reads for educational leaders engaged in change. Please post any ideas, reflections or observations if you have read any of the Top 10.

1. Good to Great - Jim Collins
2. Motion Leadership - Michael Fullan
3. Switch - Chip and Dan Heath
3. Six Secrets of Change - Michael Fullan
4. The Tipping Point - Malcolm Gladwell
5. Running All the Red Lights - Terry Holliday and Brenda Clark
6. Leading Change - John Kotter
7. Fourth Way - Andy Hargreaves and Dennis Shirley
8. Outliers - Malcolm Gladwell
9. Change Leadership - Tony Wagner
10. Curriculum 21 - Heidi Hayes Jacobs

Any others come to mind?

Managing by Fact

Just finished an introductory presentation from Robert Ewy on Process Management in Education. It struck many in our work team about how much we make decisions through gut or instinct in the education sector. Ewy's message is really about shifting toward managing by fact. Using a process management system from the Bladrige Criteria, it makes the case for using data, work flow charting, and PDSA in our sector. Examples include non-academic and academic. A good start to Leadership Week.