‘Seeking to understand’ in action

If only humans had it this easy when it comes to understanding each other

If only humans had it this easy when it comes to understanding each other

A norm that I aspire to, however difficult it can be at times is this one:

Seek to understand before being understood.

I just read a story about an administrator who practices this norm.

From Karen S. about a Kindergarten student in trouble in Talking Him Off the Ledge at Talkworthy:

“In a few minutes, he got the idea that I wasn’t there to make his day more miserable but that I was genuinely trying to understand him.”

She described the encounter between herself and the child as magical. I felt the magic as I read her words. Karen is a true leader. Go read the whole story. It’s a story worth listening to, sharing, and believing.

“We are responsible not only for the stories we tell and the stories we listen to, but for the stories we choose to believe.” ~Thomas King

doing the right things or doing things right

Came across this quote on my iGoogle page today:

Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.
– Peter Drucker

I’m reading this in terms of classroom leadership. And in light of the recent conversations about teaching and teachers that have been erupting across the blogosphere. (Read my last few posts to get links if you’re at all interested)

I like the distinction Peter makes. It’s a good one.

I like this picture of him (Peter Drucker) because it reminds me of my grandfather. The image is from ChristianSarkar.com, in Managing Ignorance: The Passing of Peter Drucker, from 2005.

Peter Drucker

Leadership for any kind of change.

Please, Administrators of Canada (and probably the US and Australia, and South Korea, and New Zealand, and Morocco, and…), please stop jumping headfirst into change initiatives and expect your teachers to jump on with you as if they had been there from the start.

Do you know that some of the least effective PD (wish I could locate the references. I can’t so trust me on this one for now) EVER is when a small group goes out to a conference or training session and then tries to bring their learning back to their schools?

If you know this, then why is it still happening? More importantly, why is this model for PD still being offered? Especially with all of the different models that are available to us now through the technologies that are being advanced every single day?

You see, what happens is the marathon effect.

Chicago Marathon

It’s effect on organizations is described nicely here, in a passage from this document on transitions for sustainable social change:

People leading a change have usually already gone through their transitions and are ready to hit the ground running as soon as the change is announced. Others, however, are either just entering the Neutral Zone, or have not even made it through their Endings. They need time to arrive at their New Beginnings. Change leaders need to give them that time for adjustment and guide them through their transition rather than wonder why it’s taking so long.

Even worse is when this happens on a consistent basis. One year differentiated instruction, the next – learning with laptops, the next – SMART boards, the next – multiple intelligences, the next…
When this happens organizational trust is very low and you get a school of teachers who are doing their own things while the administration is cut off from what is really happening.

So. If I could whisper something in the ears of all of you who are in charge of professional development at your schools it would be…

…slow down. Honour time for transition. Find out what your teachers need and want in order to let their passion for teaching shine. Nurture it, celebrate it. By doing this you’ll create a climate of trust in your organization through which so much can be accomplished.

Remember, when you run a marathon there is only one winner. We can’t afford only one winner in education.

Leadership Day 2009, hosted at Dangerously Irrelevant

Leadership Day 2009, hosted at Dangerously Irrelevant

“Put technology where it can be best used… In the classroom!”

[cross ranted as a comment at Stephen Ransom’s EdTechTrek] [and slightly elaborated]

I am starting to think that because many teachers and administrators
still do not know exactly what we can do with technology there is a
reluctance to put it in the classroom.

Example – today the Internet had, for some reason, stopped working
in the west wing of our school. I was at the computer lab with one
other teacher. She packed her kids up and went back because she only
books the computer lab for the last period of the day so that her kids
can ‘play on the internet’.

For her, technology has nothing to do with learning, it is a form of
entertainment. I stayed with my kids and used the time to work on our
Science vocabulary while teaching them how to hyperlink in
presentations. They were linking their vocabulary words to comments and images made by their peers, creating a collaborative learning network around the new terminology they are learning in Science. (Not bad for a wing it activity, eh ;)

For some reason, this teacher has not caught on yet that technology
can be much more than a way to waste time. I can understand the frustration of the new teachers that Stephen mentions in his post, but
until the more experienced teachers and administrators at schools begin
to use technology as a learning tool, really use it, and demand that
good forms of it be available in the schools, it isn’t going to happen.

I can also understand the frustration of the more experienced teachers who are
expected to use technology but who aren’t really given the time to grow
less afraid of it and to experiment with what can be done. There is a huge divide between our students who live and breathe with technology as part of their daily lives and the teachers who don’t. Huge. and while
there are still administrators who don’t use technology in their daily lives and who don’t champion for its appropriate use and availability in the school, let alone the classroom…well…that divide can only be expected to widen.

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