Leadership, Professional Learning

Becoming a True Learning Person

(Originally published on LinkedIn.) In one of his articles about “Learning Organizations,” Jim Collins presents the challenge to become a true “Learning Person”: How would your day be different if you organized your time, energy, and resources primarily around the objective of learning, instead of performance? For many people, their daily activities — what they do and how they go about doing it — would be dramatically changed. Indeed, despite all the buzz around the concept of the “learning organization,” I’m struck by how few people seem to have embraced the idea of being a true learning person. As educators who strive…

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Curriculum & Instruction, Innovation, Leadership, School Improvement

Doing What is Best for Students

(Originally published on LinkedIn.) Recently I’ve been hearing a lot of folks talking about “doing what is best for students.” I’ve even said it myself. In fact, the first time I heard something along these lines it was about 15 years ago in the context of comprehensive whole-school reform and the full statement was something along the lines of: Are we doing what is best for students, or what is easiest for adults? Over the past 15 years I have come to develop my own belief that some of what is best for students is also what is best for…

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Innovation, Leadership

Does #Innovation Have a DNA? Some #Education Applications…

(Originally published on LinkedIn.) I recently stumbled across this blog post: Does Innovation Have a DNA? — and I immediately started to connect this with the work that we do in education. In the post, the author explains that prominent and influential business innovators (Jeff Bezos from Amazon, Steve Jobs from Apple, Marc Benioff from Salesforce.com) all share a common set of skills that enable them to create “disruptive innovations.” The author concludes that these skills are skills that anyone can develop within themselves: …the five skills of disruptive innovators: Questioning allows innovators to challenge the status quo and consider new possibilities; Observing…

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Leadership, School Improvement

A View From the Balcony

(Originally published on LinkedIn.) In their book Leadership on the Line: Staying Alive Through the Dangers of Leading, Martin Linsky and Ronald A. Heifetz explain how leaders can easily fall into the trap of being so close to the work that they fail to see the bigger picture. It’s so easy to get caught up in all of the details — meetings with parents, classroom walkthroughs, discipline, leadership team meetings, off-campus meetings, etc. — that we lose sight of the bigger picture. Their solution for overcoming this pitfall is to step away from “the dance floor” and to place one’s self on “the…

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Curriculum & Instruction, Learning Spaces

Make Your Classroom Extraordinary

A few years ago, immediately after Robin Williams passed away, I wrote a blog post titled “20 Timeless Ways to Make Your Classroom Extraordinary.”  The post was inspired by Williams’ character John Keating from the movie Dead Poets Society, and the quote from the movie where Keating tells his students to seize the day: “…Carpe diem, seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary…” A couple of years ago, for a variety of reasons, I decided to stop blogging for a while and in the process I pulled the old blog from the web.  (In retrospect, not a great idea,…

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Arts Ed, Curriculum & Instruction, Innovation, Leadership

Our Decisions & Actions Are Symbolic

(Originally published on LinkedIn.) As someone with a background in the visual arts and art education, I know that there are so many important reasons for keeping the arts in our schools. Recently I came across a list created and posted by the National Art Education Association that I think addresses the key “lessons” that the arts teach our students: http://www.arteducators.org/advocacy/10-lessons-the-arts-teach I especially like #10: “10. The arts’ position in the school curriculum symbolizes to the young what adults believe is important.” As I read that reason I realized that the statement can be made about anything and everything we do in schools —…

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Leadership, Professional Learning, School Improvement

Giving of Grace to One Another

(Originally published on LinkedIn.) Recently I was browsing through a binder that I used when I was involved in some leadership training (focused on comprehensive school improvement / change leadership) and I came across the following quote from Patrick Dolan (author of Restructuring Our Schools): What we need, very often, more than anything else, is a “grace” with one another. This grace comes from understanding how difficult this business is, and from making the very best assumptions about people and their desire to change, understanding the reality of past experiences and the culture so often in place. It is hard…

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Innovation, Leadership, School Improvement

Want Innovation? Ditch the Silos.

(Originally published on LinkedIn.) Innovation. Buzzword of the day. We are all striving towards more innovation. We want more innovation in our schools, our classrooms, and across our districts. The problem is that innovation is not a program that can just be added in or layered onto existing district, school, or classroom cultures. Innovation emerges from a culture that fosters imagination and creativity. Unfortunately, district and school cultures that are overly bureaucratic, traditional, and silo-ed are not the kinds of cultures that foster imagination and creativity. At the very least, in order to create the type of culture that will lead to deep and meaningful…

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Professional Learning

Back to Blogging…

Hello World! After a lengthy break from blogging I have decided to return to this practice as an educator.  The motivation for this stems from similar “forces” that prompted me to begin blogging in 2006.  I am also motivated by a new opportunity that I have been blessed with — membership in a new leadership cohort focused on advocating for equity in education. I have much more to say about all of these things and will be doing so very soon.  For now I am just dipping my toes back in to this world — and spending a bit of…

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