Category Archives: Change

Can’t wait to get there kind of place


This is how Rina, a fifth grade student, summarizes her post on “What I Would Do As Principal.”

School should be a fun,exciting, can’t wait to get there kind of place. So, make a difference and speak up and make changes. Try to get your school to change. Bye!

Go read the whole post and if you feel inclined make a comment. I like the way she thinks. Hear! Hear! There’s nothing like the voices of our students.

Photo Credit

Thinking about change

As I was reading Bradley Shoebottom’s thought-provoking post about “the only constant in life is change – the changing roles of educators” I noticed the possibly related post link below it. I was hooked once again to follow a lead. The post was “The Business of blogging”. The author was Greg Whitby. He had read an article by Ian Grayson in the Australian on blogging in the corporate environment. I read that and then returned to Greg’s site. I mention all this to let you know my habits and how I learn from wandering here and there. I just feel compelled to follow these leads, and the pay-offs are usually great! Anyway, Greg was blogging about how the education sector can learn a lot from industries who are using blogs in productive and creative ways. He went on to state how these tools are no longer fads, but proven technologies that help organizations improve the way they work. Greg asked

“Why is the education sector lagging behind? Why isn’t our industry leading the thinking and application of such capabilities? Surely we must be on about questioning, challenging and innovation, isn’t this part of our core business? Aren’t things like communication, collaboration, personalisation central to the work we do in schools?”

He followed with this:

I am beginning to suspect it’s because educators rarely venture out of their own networks or jump into this world themselves. I don’t think you can effectively engage in this agenda in the abstract, you have to be an active participant. This means that educators have to blog, use wikis, have a facebook page, use del.icio.ous and the like.

I think a big part of why educators are not out of their own networks is that their day is filled with other priorities that the teacher has to accomplish. I wish schools would make reflection and learning time for teachers a priority that nothing could interrupt. Students need the same. I agree that educators need to blog, use wikis, del.icio.ous and the like but until the educators’ learning and growth is truly made a priority within our schools , I don’t think we will make the progress we need to achieve. We need leaders that make this happen. A reflective culture of learning and growing must be nurtured in our schools. Bob Garmston and Bill Powell have written on how it needs to be a cornerstone of our schools’ culture. I could not locate their articles online so if someone has links to them, please share. I have found that using blogs with students to reflect about what they are learning and how they learn lets them write their way into their own understandings. It lets them discover answers to the questions they need to ask. A blogging class of students can work together, reflect, pass ideas back and forth and have the ability to reach out to a larger audience to share and learn from one another. We need to encourage our students to tell the story of what they are learning – not just a regurgitation of the facts but one where they explore how they might use these facts or share how they have applied those learning of facts to something that is going on in their lives. Students need help putting their experiences into words, especially at the elementary level. They are very capable of this but we need to give them lots of opportunities to write about their learning. Blogging is a perfect space for that to happen. That’s one of the ways I’d like to see students using blogging in their classrooms.

My interest was next captured by the 20 or so comments that followed Greg’s post.

Judy O’Connell shared how her professional learning would be practically non-existent if it weren’t for blogging, sharing delicious links, twitter, etc. I know it has been life-changing for me, too. Finding others who share your concerns, your hopes, and especially connecting with those who want shifts in our current education is awesome. We really need education to be leading in this area. It seems insane that we are not.

Another commenter, Roger Pryor pointed out that the internet has provided him with access to other communities of leaders, and the opportunity to learn a plethora of ways which actually enhance, rather than diminish our ability to build human capital. Again, why are our students blocked from this learning? It makes no sense.

And yet another commenter, FManning talks about the culture in her school where all of them, staff and students alike are recognizing that they each have a voice that is worth being heard. She said her Principal has always maintained that reflection and evaluation of their work is of utmost importance in effective learning. Her school’s work with Web2 tools is based on this and this is what she feels is the basis of their success with social networking tools. We need more schools of this nature. I think this is one of the most important things we need to do in our schools – make time for reflection and conversations about the learning, both for teachers and students. We spend so little time on how we learn and way too much time on what we learn. We need to rethink all this.

The changing roles of educators – all this led me back to the original post I read on Bradleyshoebottom’s Weblog. I thought about his metaphor for his world. He talked of wayfinding and how it can be a useful term for the information domain. He relates that wayfinding was originally used to describe how people find their way around in the physical world. He thinks wayfinding is a useful term for the information domain, because ultimately learners must navigate the confusing number of competing ideas out in the world around any particular subject. He asks the question,

“Can we teach wayfinding? Or is wayfinding incredibly personal?”

He feels it is both and says we can teach the elements of wayfinding and use many of these internet tools in the process. I like the way he is thinking about this and it’s given me lots of food for thought. I think we should be teaching it and then having conversations about the journeys so that we can learn from each other. And I wonder how might we get change to move a little faster in our educational world?

Flickr photo paint from buenosaurus photostream

Reshaping High Schools

The current issue (May 2008) of Educational Leadership is
terrific. The theme is “Reshaping High Schools.”

Bob Wise, former Governor of
West Virginia and the President of the Alliance for Excellent Education, kicks
it off with an article “High schools at the Tipping Point” which zeroes in on
the choice the United States faces:

“Do nothing to fix a broken high school system and watch our
competitiveness further decline, or summon the political will to demand change.”

“Put Understanding First” by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe
addresses the high school curriculum and how it should start with the long-term goals of schooling: meaning making and transfer of learning

This publication is packed with many other good articles. Be sure to read it!

A Vision for Change : Part 1

Julie Coiro’s session at TRLD on “Educational Leadership, Professional Development, & Digital-Age Thinking: A Vision for Change” began with this Anticipation Guide.pdf.
I obtained permssion from Julie to share this whole anticipation guide on my blog, as well as other items from her excellent sessions.

This is how this session began. We had our anticipation guides in front of us. The idea was to take a few minutes. Read each statement. Decide if you agree or disagree. Next we (the participants) were asked to talk in groups for a little while. We quickly jumped into some lively discussions in our groups of two or three or four for about ten minutes. We just went through the statements and shared our thinking. The anticipation guide has a little space under each example for you to write an experience or an idea of why you agree or disagree with the statement.

This is a reading technique in which you take a controversial issue that you are going to read about. You develop sentences that call a reader’s attention to some of those controversies before you read and you frame them not so you necessarily agree or disagree with them across the board as much as to ask for prior knowledge. Julie explained that our feelings, experiences, and beliefs as we look at the research and we experience technology become very much a part of our beliefs as to whether we buy into it, how we think about it, and how we frame things So the idea is that she created some questions and not that there is a right or wrong answer clearly but for us to kind of find out where we fit. Where do others around us fit?

One of the interesting things that she has seen as she goes out to districts and she does something like this is that particularly when there are challenges in the district you find that different people fit and believe in different things and when they are wondering why it isn’t working it’s because somebody is way over here on the continuum of belief and somebody is way over there. So it’s not that oh you are right and I am wrong it’s let’s take a look at where this continuum is and if we want something to work maybe there is some balancing to do.

Julie went around listening as a way for her to get a feel for her audience and where people are sitting on things and also it was a way for us to find out the different perspectives that we have.

It’s a great way to start a session. I’d encourage you to use this in your workshops. I really liked her statements. Of course the delight for me was that I was surrounded by educators who were all answering the statements pretty similar to mine. No, as you all know that doesn’t always happen in this particular area.

I am going to work at developing some guides for the students I work with. I’m also going to try out Julie’s anticipation guide, giving her full credit, of course!

Now this is just Part 1, much more to come!

SSR with a blogging twist!

This is such a noteworthy post! Mark Ahlness writes about  SSR – “sustained silent reading” with a 2.0 twist.  He has his kids reading blogs. He has turned them loose on blogs – to read. Mark points out that he will probably not do this every day as there is still value in cuddling up with a book. But he goes on to note that by the time they grow up their reading preferences will be worlds away from where he and his students are now.

This statement by Mark jumped out at me “So much is made of young kids creating content, that I think it’s real easy to overlook the positive aspects of young kids consuming content – created by their peers – and who knows who else?” Mark gives us  much to think about! He is doing some remarkable work with his third greaders.

Answering questions about being a change agent and change management in education

A very good teacher friend asked me to answer some questions for an instructional technology class she is taking. The questions are centered around being an “exemplary change agent” and change management in education. They are tough. I thought I’d share my answers and would more than welcome any input from other edubloggers. This might be good to add to the “overcoming obstacles” wiki.

1. Respond to this quote: “Change is complex; everyone is an agent of change” How are you an “agent of change”, and why do you think this is important?

Change is complex because many factors are involved. It can occur slowly or fast. Change can be a little or it can be a lot There is no pat answer as to how to effect change. There is not always agreement on what is successful change. So defining “successful” change is difficult, especially in education.

Change has many facets and can occur when you least expect it. A change agent is someone who causes change and that could be intentionally or unintentionally.

I try to be an “agent of change” by blogging about changes I think are important in education. I also try to model the use of technology that puts our students in the center and in a place where their voice is heard as they learn to be effective communicators. I try to be open and flexible to avenues that open around me to share aspects of learning and technology that I believe will benefit our students and educators. I think this is important because we are in a period of massive change in our culture. We need to be working together to create a new culture of learning and teaching.
2, Why is change important in education?

Change is important because of our current outmoded paradigm of education. Traditional models of education are built around the teacher being the expert and the one that dispenses knowledge to students. Curriculum is delivered mainly through the lecture mode. We are teaching from textbooks that in many cases are outdated as they go to print. This has to change before technology can realize its promise. The fact that we are networked and connected to virtually all the written knowledge in the world and have it available in our classrooms and homes requires that we embrace and define a new definition of literacy in our digital age. We have to understand how to use it in our schools.

Another major problem is our current high stakes testing requirements that are the main basis, really the only basis, currently for evaluation of learning and teaching. Teachers will never be motivated to embrace technology if their evaluation is based on test results that don’t give any value on how to access, evaluate, analyze, and synthesize vast quantities of information. Yet, these literacy skills are the very ones we need to be teaching and learning in this informational age. An outdated educational system and a method of evaluation that promotes the continuation of that system have to be changed before technology can ever begin to realize its potential.

In addition, the limited staff development available in schools has focused on the computer, not technology’s role in learning and teaching. We do not have the support systems in place for educators to begin reconceptualizing their role to enable learning with the aid of technology. There is no priority in place to provide teachers the time to develop an understanding of how technology can transform the way we teach and learn.

The traditional teaching model must be revamped where the lecture mode is not predominant and critical thinking and application is the desired outcome, not regurgitation of facts. Educators need to be involved in designing this kind of learning. We need to work with colleagues, both in our school buildings and beyond. We need chances to learn from one another’s successes and failures and to share ideas and knowledge worldwide. Students need the same opportunities for learning through these connections. How we access, use, and communicate information is changing daily. We have to be stakeholders inng process. learning process.
3.Many people are resistant to change. How can change, whether with the curriculum, staff turnover, etc, be most effectively managed?

Change can most effectively be managed if leaders create a safe place to talk about what needs to change and why. A vision needs to be developed. Information from many sources should be collected and discussed. Educators need to be treated as professionals and their opinions valued. Leaders need to foster environments where educators can talk openly and candidly about real issues. Information needs to flow freely and the environment needs to be one where teachers can continually learn. Time for this needs to be a priority. The same safe environment needs to be available for students. Hearing the voices of the students will help. The message for all should stay focused on what works for the learning, a focus on the big picture and giving the stakeholders real ownership in creating solutions. Show models instead of lecturing. Continued reflection on the process by all is important.
4.How do you implement change when you feel it is needed? For example, if you want to implement a new program, teaching strategy, or activity, how would you go about it?

First, I would recognize professionally and publicly the excellence that currently exists in the teaching group.
Foster collegiality and teamwork.
I would try to make a clear and compelling case for what I am trying to implement.
Provide models that would show them results rather than just telling them.
Build in collaboration and reflection from stakeholders that is valued and discussed.

5.What leadership qualities are crucial during transitional times? How can effective leaders make change easier and positive for all those involved?

• Model the changes and behavoirs the leader wants to promote
• Make a clear and compelling case for the change
• Create a postitive climate of trust and openness
• Secure needed resources
• Provide time for learning how about if we took the time spent for tests and
• Good communication skills.
• Visionary outlook