Posts Tagged 'More'

How to make significant changes in just 5 minutes a day

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This is the final post in a series I published this summer that introduced blog themes that connected popular and important posts from recent years.

This week’s post is drawn from my book, Leadership 180: Daily Meditations on School Leadership.

The 180 “mediations” contained within Leadership 180 promote the fundamental skills and attributes of effective leaders. The brief essays are intended in be read in just a few minutes and to evoke one or more actions that will benefit students or the broader school community.

Here’s an example on the importance of having simple, clear, and actionable plans rather than losing clarity and momentum with overly-complex plans.

 

When educators neglect “politics,” they do so at their own peril

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Each week this summer I’m introducing a blog theme that connects popular and important posts from recent years. Each theme offers a number of perspectives on a perennial challenge of school leadership.

This week focuses on policy issues that face public education and, therefore, school leadership.

Successful school leadership requires simultaneously paying attention to the micro—the urgent and immediate—and the macro—the policy and legislative environment that often profoundly influences their day-to-day work and the well being of students.

Because the first category is typically more pressing and because leaders by talent and inclination find more satisfaction in the daily responsibilities of teaching and learning, it is easy to neglect  broader political context of public education.

I encourage you to scroll through articles in this thread to find those that match your interests.

In addition, I encourage you to take a closer look at these essays:

“What the best and wisest parent wants…”

“The storyline used by those who seek to destroy public education”

“A strong rationale for public education”

 

Why scripts and formula cannot continuously improve teaching and learning

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Each week this summer I’m introducing a blog theme that connects popular and important posts from recent years. Each theme offers a number of perspectives on a perennial challenge of school leadership.

This week’s theme is “creating the future of your school.”

Most problems faced by K-12 teachers and administrators require adaptive solutions—that is, solutions for which there is no one-right answer or script.

Viewed from this perspective, educators’ work is more like the improvisation of jazz musicians than the adherence to a musical score of performers in a symphony orchestra. That means that educators must continuously invent their way forward while keeping foremost in their minds the ambitious goals for student success that inspire and guide their work.

I encourage you to scroll through articles in this thread to find those that match your interests.

In addition, I encourage you to take a closer look at these essays:

Choose stretch goals over modest, achievable targets”

“Your answer to these two questions could change your school forever”

“The importance of thinking very big and very small”

 

How to shape change for the benefit of students

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Each week this summer I’m introducing a blog theme that connects popular and important posts from recent years. Each theme offers a number of perspectives on a perennial challenge of school leadership.

This week’s topic is “change.”

Change is a given in K-12 schools, both change that is sought and that which is imposed.

While change is not optional, it can be shaped in ways that benefit students. Change requires intellectual engagement and elicits emotional responses.

Almost always, educators underestimate what’s required to intentional produce meaningful, sustained changes that benefit students in teaching, learning, and relationships.

I encourage you to scroll through articles in this thread to find those that match your interests.

In addition, I encourage you to take a closer look at these essays:

“Don’t fall into the knowing-doing gap”

“How to spread demonstrably successful but uncommonly applied practices”

“Doing what we’ve never done”

 

Why creating positive energy must be a leadership priority

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Each week this summer I’m introducing a blog theme that connects popular and important posts from recent years. Each theme offers a number of perspectives on a perennial challenge of school leadership.

This week’s topic is “creating positive energy.”

The questions that I am most frequently asked when I work with educators concern leaders’ role in creating and sustaining positive energy to achieve stretching goals. Most educators know what doesn’t work—mandates and close monitoring of behavior and outcomes to determine compliance. But what does?

I encourage you to scroll through articles in this thread to find answers to that question.

In addition, I encourage you to take a closer look at these essays:

“How SUCCESS can increase your influence”

Your answer to these two questions could change your school forever”

“Resetting the school community’s default settings”

 

 

Why professional development so often fails

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Each week this summer I’m introducing a blog theme that connects popular and important posts from recent years. Each theme offers a number of perspectives on a perennial challenge of school leadership.

This week’s topic is “professional learning.”

The titles of my most popular blog posts have used terms such as “mindlessness” or “near death experience” to describe professional development. That, and my observations of the field for more than 30 years, convince me that professional development has a long way to go before it is viewed as a useful tool by the vast majority of educators.

I encourage you to scroll through articles in this thread to find those that match your interests.

In addition, I encourage you to take a closer look at these essays:

“‘Inservice’ as a near-death experience”

“How to spread demonstrably successful but uncommonly applied practices”

“5 ways to cultivate complex, intelligent behavior in schools”

 

6 Ways Principals Can Support Instructional Coaching

 

IMG_1365[I am honored to offer my readers this guest post by Jim Knight. If you are not already a subscriber to Jim's Radical Learners blogI encourage you to become one. I guarantee that you will be informed and inspired by the ideas he offers there on teaching and instructional coaching, among other subjects. And so with no further ado, here is what Jim has to say on the subject of "6 Ways Principals Can Support Instructional Coaching."]

Instructional coaching has the potential to dramatically improve teaching practice and consequently student learning.  But in most cases, a coach’s success is directly connected to how effectively she or he is supported (or not supported) by his or her principal. After working with hundreds of schools where coaches have succeeded and struggled, I’ve found that there are six actions principals can do that will make or break instructional coaching success.

1. Support the coach.  In any organization, people are keen to do what their boss wants them to do. If principals make it clear that they consider instructional coaching a vital part of their school’s plan for improvement, then teachers will be more inclined to work with the coach.  If the principal is less enthusiastic about instructional coaching, teachers will usually be less enthusiastic.

2. Let the coach coach.  I’ve never met a principal who had too much time on his or her hands. Leading a school always requires more time than is available and every principal must be tempted to hand off some of that work to a coach. But if a coach writes reports, develops plans, oversees assessment, deals with student behavior, does bus and cafeteria duty, substitute teaches, and so on… well there’s no time left for instructional coaching.  The easiest way to increase a coach’s effectiveness is to let the coach coach.

3. Clarify roles. Usually coaches are positioned as peers and not supervisors.  If teachers talk to peers, they will be more forthcoming, usually, than if they talk with a supervisor.  If this is the case, then coaches should not do administrative tasks such as walk-throughs, teacher evaluations, and so forth.  If coaches are considered to have an administrative role, they should have the same qualifications and training as any other administrator, and everyone in the school, most especially the coach, needs to know that they have that role.

4. Clarify confidentiality. Again, usually instructional coaching is considered confidential.  Teachers, the thinking is, will be more forthcoming with their thoughts and concerns if they know that the conversation is just between the coach and teacher.  However, what is most important is that principal and coach clarify what will be shared and what won’t be shared.  If teachers say something they think is confidential, and find out it was shared, they may consider it a breach of trust—and nothing is more import for a coach’s success than trust.

5. Make instructional coaching a choice. If teachers are told they must work with a coach, they go into instructional coaching seeing it more as a punishment than an opportunity, and instructional coaching is difficult from the start. It is not a good use of a coach’s time for her to spend the entire conversation trying to talk a teacher into instructional coaching.  I suggest that principals be firm on standards with teachers, but flexible on how teachers hit a goal. Thus a principal might explain that a teacher needs to increase time on task, but just suggest the coach as one of many options, letting the teacher decide how he might want to change.  When instructional coaching is compulsory, teachers often perceive it as a punishment. When instructional coaching is a choice, people often perceive it as a lifeline.

6.  Make it easy for people to be coached.  Certainly most budget issues are beyond a principal’s control, but to the best of their abilities, principals should strive to find funds for released time to free teachers up for instructional coaching. The more difficult it is for people to find time to meet, the more likely instructional coaching will have limited success.  In every way possible, a principal should do everything that can be done to make it easy for coaches and teachers to collaborate.

Why paying close attention to the “white spaces” in our lives can significantly improve the quality of our days

Dennis Sparks

Educators days are often face-paced and stressful.

Fortunately, though, even a subtle shift in thinking and perception can sometimes alter our experiences in ways that produce significant change in the quality of our work and lives. Take, for instance, learning to pay attention to the “white spaces” of our days.

Here are two examples:

The white space between events.

How we use even the brief periods of time on our calendars between meetings or other events can affect the quality of our participation in those events and their outcomes. (If there is no space between events, do your very best to schedule such times on your calendar.)

Even a few minutes of “downtime” can enable us to feel calmer and better prepared for whatever happens next. We can use this space to breathe deeply, gather our thoughts, clarify our intentions, and restore our energy.

The “white space” of a deliberate pause between the conclusion of one person’s speaking and our response.

This pause—which educators think of as “wait time”—provides an opportunity for both the speaker and listener to think more deeply about what was said, which, in turn, strengthens relationships and improves our capacity for influence.

Because we were not preparing our response while the other person was speaking, we are a more attentive listener and better prepared to offer a more thoughtful comment.

As a result, it is in this pause that the most important learning occurs as we reflect upon what we are hearing and learning and what we would like to say.

Attending to these two categories of white space may take only a few minutes a day.

But focusing on them is a potent means through which educators can affect the quality of their days and those of the individuals with whom they interact, both young people and adults alike.

How do you create “white space” in your days to provide opportunities for meaningful reflection and renewal?

Are adult learners really different from younger ones?

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Every once in a while I come across a list like this one that points out the differences between adult learners and, in this case, “youth learners.”
For the most part I disagree with such lists, not because of what they say about adult learners, but because they tend to view younger learners in ways that I think are mistaken and limiting, which, in turn, justify less-than-optimal teaching strategies.
For instance, in this list adult learners are portrayed as “problem-centered” compared to youth learners who are “subject-oriented.” Adult learners are described as “self-directed”; youth learners “often depend on adults for direction.”
I could continue, but those contrasts make my point. (It’s not my intention to single out this particular list for criticism; all the lists I’ve seen have what I regard as similar flaws.)
It makes sense that many younger learners are subject oriented and dependent on adults for direction. They have been taught to be that way by teachers who think of them in those terms. (My experience has been that given appropriate instruction younger learners are capable of making connections between subjects and acting in independent ways.)
There are, of course, differences between older and younger learners. One is that because older learners have lived longer, they have more experiences and cognitive structures that require integration with the new learning.
Another difference may be that younger learners are more willing to try new things, particularly when their self esteem is on the line, but I am not certain about that having observed some high schools students refuse to engage in tasks in which there was a chance of failure.
What qualities, if any, do you believe separate older and younger learners?

Why leaders must first change themselves

IMG_1365Each week this summer I’m introducing a blog theme that connects popular and important posts from recent years. Each theme offers a number of perspectives on a perennial challenge of school leadership.

This week’s topic is “leaders change first.”

This week’s theme could be alternatively titled, “Do what you’ve always done and you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.”

What leaders believe, understand, say, and do on a daily basis matters. That’s why significant change in teaching, learning, and relationships in schools begins with significant changes in leaders.

I encourage you to scroll through articles in this thread to find those that match your interests.

In addition, I encourage you to take a closer look at these essays:

“Doing what we’ve never done”

“6 choices that can have a profound effect on the school community”

“8 ways you can become a positive deviant”

 


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