I sat in my car this morning at 7 am finishing my coffee and browsing my emails on my phone as usual. It's been a good but challenging week--I'm trying hard to get my colleagues' spirits lifted and moving in a positive direction despite Spring Break fever weighing everyone down. And I'm working on some new sub protocols that I've decided to approach as a design challenge...which means listening with an open heart to both the enthusiastic and critical comments.
I opened George Couros' "The Principal of Change" post for 3/16/2017 and had to laugh. It was as if Couros has been watching over my shoulder this week. "I would rather be a creator than a critic," he writes. What a relief to have someone succinctly state the tension I've been feeling all week!
Thanks to what is now my mantra (and yes, I even made a graphic in it's honor!), I will keep up my SMA Inspiration Padlet project--which is picking up speed, thankfully! I will keep seeking opinions about how we might revise our substitute protocols to take advantage of technology--even from those I know will only want to criticize it. And I will keep working on outside-the-box activities for my Speech class. And to connect it back to Monday's #IMMOOC week 3 live cast, I think it is through focusing on creation that we find the groove rather than the rut.
George Couros' third #IMMOOC video chat with Amber Teamann and Matt Arend not only gave me a chance to attempt sketchnoting (see below) but also offered some validating insights into leadership. One that stood out for me was Amber's point that when faculty think they will be judged for failing, they will stop taking risks. This same message was shared by two principals at a recent leadership collaboration group I attended.
"Two-way trust" is imperative, of course, as both Amber and Matt discussed. But you don't get trust by just waving a magic wand--as much as many of wish were true!
It seems to me that that one cornerstone of building trust is honest, clear, transparent communication. Most people are willing to accept constructive feedback as long as they don't feel like it is part of a "gotcha game." Leaders create a sense of security when they communicate clear, consistent expectations and are patient with process. If it's necessary to evaluate or critique a teacher, good leaders reduce tension by giving the teacher time to think about and prepare for a conversation--no drive-by meetings or cryptic emails! Leaders build relationships by asking lots of questions and really listening to the responses. And leaders demonstrate that they are part of the team when they invite honest feedback and act on it.
I may not be an administrator, but I can certainly incorporate these elements into my daily practice as a coach and teacher. Here goes!
George Couros, author of The Innovator's Mindset, is one of my inspirations in the world of educational philosophy. I was recently thrilled to discover that Couros has offered yet another way to engage educators in a discussion about the concepts presented in his book--the #InnovatorsMindset MOOC (or #IMMOOC for short.)
Built around a series of YouTube live presentations and Twitter conversations, this five-week opportunity to further explore ways to create a "culture of innovation in education" looks to offer fantastic professional development and connections with educators from all over. As icing on that cake, participants will be urged to blog as a way to reflect and share their ideas. Kuddos to Couros for offering such a unique opportunity for meaningful online learning!
I can't wait to participate--and I hope you will too! Check it out at http://georgecouros.ca/blog/archives/7070.
About this blog...
Learners Together is designed as a forum for sharing ideas, experiences and epiphanies about master teaching and technology integration. Comments and sharing are welcome.
"Getting Girls into STEM: The Power of Blended (and All-Female) Instruction". (Tormala) EdSurge, March 21, 2017.
"Confronting the Abominable Snow Day". (Gilbert & Tormala) Edutopia, Feb. 2017.
"Video Interviews with iPads: The Power of Mobile Technology". (Tormala) EdTechTeam, Jan 2017.
"Discomfort, Growth, and Innovation." (Tormala) Edutopia, Oct. 2016.
"5 Epiphanies on Learning in a 1:1 iPad Classroom." (Tormala) Edutopia, July 2014.