I’ve recently started (again, a little late to the party) using some social bookmarking (Find me on Diigo!) so in the interest of making sure I read everything I bookmark and process it a little bit deeper than I would ordinary bedtime read, I’m going to start doing this monthly – a review of the stuff I’ve come across that I find nice and sticky. I’m aiming to have each post tell a little story and be a nice conclusive reading list. Sometimes it’ll be professional reading, other times it’ll be other stuff like music, food, or general nerdery.
This Month: Educational Leadership
Visionary Leadership by Lisa Petrilli.
I like to read things outside of the prescribed box. Partly because a multidisciplinary approach enriches your understanding with an injection of fresh perspective, and partly because ed-chat does tend to go on in circles a little bit. Lisa Petrilli’s a leadership consultant who usually works with private enterprise. She talks in this post about the differences between goals and vision, and the need for vision to be a multisensory construct. From my experience at my last school, that’s certainly the kind of advice that leads to a much more productive goal-setting process, as it forces you to consider what you want your development to look like, sound like, feel like and how it will develop culturally over time.
Sounds like good advice to me, but I think it needs to be tempered with this next article. Vision’s not much good unless it’s well informed. Vision by nature needs to be progressive, and even a tiny bit sci-fi. If your institution’s set up based on old thinking you can probably go and visit somewhere that’s already realised it. This is where my next tidbit comes in.
Savvy Leadership by Lyn Hilt.
While I’ve got some gripes about the amount of Prensky cited in the article, I think it comes from a good place. I’ve long been an advocate of learning via partnerships in schools – working shoulder to shoulder with your students to approach learning as inquiry and problem solving, and I really liked the notion that school leaders should be an integral part of this process, as an extended partnership, abreast with the same ideas & skills being applied in the learning spaces. Where I disagree with Prensky is that he seems to have the approach that we as educators need to throw our hands off the wheel of culture and turn it over completely to the students. Sure, the kids are faster, more in touch and bolder when it comes to navigating the digital and pop-culture landscape than most of their teachers, but I think that approach completely overlooks and devalues our role as mentors, and as cultural value filters & reality checks. I think it’s a little bit criminal that there’s a generation that credits Dick Dale’s “Miserlou” to the Black Eyed Peas. Take Prensky’s line of thinking to the extreme (read that sentence before you jump down my throat) and we’ll be letting the kids believe that because they should be calling the shots.
The other really nice thing about the principal as a learning partner is the broadened off-campus network available to staff and students. Heads of schools have generally been in their jobs a little bit longer than some of the younger troops on staff, and they generally haven’t got to where they are by staying in their office day in and day out. Who they know can be made valuable to their entire school, and in return, the learning culture they cultivate and promote by connecting their students with people outside of the school can be a wonderful reputation builder for their institution.
Flip your Classroom by Peter Pappas.
In the name of “I’m sick to death of talking about it” and “for Gods sake stop framing every educational discussion with ‘how can we…’” I’ll follow that up with a really simple and really cool little idea on how to level out that learning process. No kid likes homework, right? These guys decided to make the traditional “class lesson” a short video that laid the knowledge foundation and set challenges. Kids log in & watch it at home. Classtime then becomes interactive & hands-on. I particularly liked the inclusion of the savvier, more advanced kids in the class as early content curators – it satisfies the remnants of the question-right-answer-hands-up-first culture that we’re all up against on a daily basis.
The coolest part was that the kids were involved in a way that would satisfy Prensky-skeptics like me, and Prensky-followers alike. The video content and format was a consistently modified and consultative process between teacher and students. There was room for input from external parties and from the students themselves. The format and style of the video material was customised to the cognitive and attentional requirements of the class. The content was partly curated by the more advanced students, and moderated by the teacher. It would be really interesting reflective practice to rewatch the early videos after a period of time to see how that format changed.
Preparing Students for Jobs that Don’t Exist Yet by Liz Dwyer.
I am absolutely loving Good at the moment. Interesting articles across a range of disciplines, with the simple common thread that they’re all about something with a good outcome. This article from their education section reviews an online resource called Creating the Future Today, geared towards fostering and cultivating imagination in schools. The intended follow-on effect from building imagination is that it fosters the innovation required of the students today who will end up in “jobs that haven’t been invented yet.” Fascinating stuff ranging from the fantastic & futuristic to the zero-budget clever.
Why “I Don’t Do Technology” Isn’t Acceptable by Gerald Aungst.
We’ve all met ’em. We all work with at least one of ’em. The good news is there’s a growing swell of pressure against them.