An article I recently read pointed out that leaders entrain themselves and see what they expect to see. An effective way to overcome this can be writing reflective journals and asking direct questions about process. We are often surprised by the little things we overlook and how important they are.
Here is something radical that takes beyond the criticism of accountability and tests. What if we provided classroom teachers with more voice in the curriculum being delivered in their classrooms with live students?
This article points out that nothing has changed as much as things change. The author draws on Piaget's work, but many of the deep educational thinkers would agree with the conclusions. We need to teach rather than expect just letting kids explore on their own will work.
Two words that get used a lot these days are micromanagement and harassment. The two concepts come from different sources, but they converge in the extreme case. This article dissects the two conce...
Ivon Prefontaine's insight:
Managers often justify their micromanagement as staff who are unable to do the work. They use code like "this is better than the alternatives" suggesting dire circumstances which bring us in line. It does for some, but, for others, it just makes the more resentful. Either way, it is a loss.
I worked in school jurisdiction that talked about win-win, whatever that is, but rarely did I see staff winning. It is all a one-sided position.
On theTeacherpreneursPanel this week at the Ford Foundation, I found myself in the unusual situation of speaking publicly about the intricacies of engaging in a range of leadership work in education while teaching full time. Normally I’m talking to people who know me in one capacity or another—as a teacher, a teacher leader, teacher-blogger, author, or workshop presenter—but being asked about the connections between all of these things was unique.
Prepare yourself is a key. Several years ago, I began to meditate in part to let go of the fearful ideas and that I had to control things. Letting go and just being present in meetings made a huge difference. It was like the concept of no-mind from Buddhist and Taoist thinking. It created a space where I could be ready and accept things as they arrived. It helped immensely dealing with the education managers I worked for.
The journey towards Social Leadership takes us through nine stages: we CURATE our space, choosing the stage we will perform from. We develop our STORYTELLING skills, learning how to structure the narrative and tell stories that are relevant and timely, interpreting the world around us to create meaning. We SHARE those stories wisely.
The article makes sense. When we take a break, it is often a time when insight appears. Meditation is useful in this respect as well. It takes us beyond innovation to deep personal insight. School structured in ways that students and teachers would have ways to come back to a topic when those flashes of insight occur would be great. When we move students around, that is missing.
What is it that sets people with grit apart? Robertson-Craft and Duckworth describe their key characteristic this way: “Gritty individuals work diligently towards very challenging, long-term goals, sustaining commitment when confronted with setbacks and adversity.”
That sounds like a quality that would be immensely useful in teaching—and many other professions.
Without resiliency, without grit, we cannot recover and move forward learning from mistakes. Teachers need grit. The very work we do calls on us to be resilient and lead students with our words and actions when we make a mistake.
Karthik Subburam, a five-year veteran in his first year teaching in the "inquiry-driven, project-based, technology-infused" style of Philadelphia's nationally acclaimed Science Leadership Academy, runs his fingers through his hair.
As a follow-up to my earlier post about the brain and gut decisions, I want to share my conversation with Erica Ariel Fox for my Leadership: A Master Class about how intuition can factor into good decision-making. Erica Ariel Fox is a lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, and part of the internationally acclaimed Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School.
“Let’s look at Malcolm Gladwell’s concept of thin-slicing. My interpretation: you are in fact cognitively perceiving data, it’s just that you’re doing it so quickly. With pattern recognition from past experience, what you experience as intuitive is actually just unbelievably quick cognitive processing.
There are also arguments that when the emotional part of the brain is damaged, people can’t make decisions: you need the right and left hand side of the brain, the cognitive and the emotional. I think that is right for certain kinds of decisions, such as when you’re gathering information and trying to make meaning or make sense out of information.
But these approaches to decision-making don’t address what might be called direct knowing: I know this, but I don’t know how I know it. I didn’t read it in a book. Nobody told it to me. I didn’t have an Excel spreadsheet that laid it out for me. Nonetheless, I know it.
I think we have a set of skills that coaches and leaders who work with teams might call “reading the room.” Others call it attunement or discernment. It’s not data processing and thin-slicing, and it’s also not having an emotional evaluation of decisions. It’s a sensing. When I work with a team in crisis, tuning in to the group’s feelings and emotions really helps me ask the right questions about what’s happening.
People will be shocked when they think back over the course of their lives, ‘when I made that decision, I actually knew it was wrong, but I didn’t trust the part of me that was telling me not to do it.’ Or they say, ‘It was the craziest thing. I made this decision. Everyone in my life thought I was insane, but I just knew it was right, and it turned out it was the best decision I ever made.’”
How does this concept resonate with you? How would you explain intuition in relation to decision-making?
The core of the argument is sound and draws on seminal thinking about student assessment. The addition that might be made is that thinking was based on considerably more teacher autonomy and local community involvement in their schools. I think the two go hand-in-hand. We need teachers to be teaching students and that includes effective assessment which can be communicated to students and their parents.
Here’s another way of looking at the role of education. The author is thinking of schools but I have something broader in mind. More about that below. First, here are the opening paragraphs of “Unp...
Ivon Prefontaine's insight:
Education is about the big topics and not narrow learning. This post refers to Neil Postman's work which suggests schools are a cultural thermostat. It would be nice to get back to that kind of thinking. Educators can become subversive by asking the big questions with no easy answers. These questions keep us coming back for more. Isn't that what education could be?
The article opens with a great question about whether it is possible to teach to the standards and says yes by teaching past the standards. I ignored tests and worried about the learning that went on day-to-day and moment-to-moment, including mine. I found that students, when it came test time, did better than those from classes where they focused on the standards and the test.
“ I'm late writing the blog today, because tomorrow is a special day. I'm running two workshops: the first, an 'Introduction to Social Leadership', and the second 'How organisational culture fails'. ...”