It goes without saying that “leaders are readers.” This past Saturday during our January Focused Leader Academy (FLA) we did a very cool activity. We all read a book in 45 minutes. I purchased copies of the last 16 books I have read and let our FLA participants pick a book to read and make their own. Here is the protocol we used:
How to Read a Book in 45 minutes
1. Read the introduction, carefully. A good intro will give you the book’s thesis,
clues on the methods and sources, and thumbnail synopses of each chapter.
Work quickly but take good notes. Allow fifteen minutes here.
2. Now turn directly to the conclusion and read that. The conclusion will reinforce
the thesis and have some more quotable material. In your notes write down 1-2
direct quotes suitable for using in a review. Ten minutes.
3. Turn to the table of contents and think about what each chapter likely contains.
4. Skim 1-2 of what seem to be the key chapters. Look for something clever the
author has done with her or his evidence, memorable phrases, glaring
weaknesses–Fifteen minutes, max.
5. Meet some friends and tell them the interesting things you just learned,
speaking from the author’s point of view (driving it deeper it your memory).
Here are the books that were available for selection:
Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community by Robert D. Huffer
The Five Thieves of Happiness by John B. Izzo, Ph.D.
Whistling Vivaldi: How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do by Claude M. Steele
The World Cafe`: Shaping Our Futures Through Conversations That Matter by Juanito Brown and David Isaacs
It’s My Pleasure: The Impact of Extraordinary Talent and a Compelling Culture by Dee Ann Turner
Thank You For Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations by Thomas L. Friedman
Coherence: The Right Drivers in Action for Schools, Districts, and Systems by Michael Fullan
Learning in Action: A Guide to Putting the Learning Organization to Work by David A. Garvin
The Hand In The Back of the Room: Connecting School Work to Real Life by Byron L. Ernest
Needless to say, this activity was one of the favorites of participants. Even those who were skeptical really appreciated having the chance to be given a book and go through the protocol. You can see in the graphic of our +s and Δs discussion at the end of the day, that this session was one of the top rated. In fact you will notice in the video that one of those skeptics became a reader while doing this activity.
You will also see a plus on our +/Δ of “Live Tweeting/Periscope.” I live tweeted out the introduction to this activity as well as the report out from all participants using the hashtag #HoosierFLA. We had a large number of people watching live and were receiving several comments during the live tweet. Therefore, I am providing you the link to both videos.
Introduction to our “Leaders Are Readers” session:
“Go-Round” report-out from participants’ reading:
As you can see, leaders are readers. Are you tending to your own professional growth by reading? Are you supporting the professional growth of those you serve by encouraging reading?
We had a great norming session today for our teacher evaluation team. This has been an important monthly retreat for making sure the team is doing all they can to help our teachers on their journey of continuous improvement. Norming helps us to unpack the nuances of teaching practices that have the greatest potential for improving student achievement.
Our norming sessions prompt teachers and administrators to engage in professional conversations that make the critical link between teaching and the supports that teachers need to improve and hone their skills. This common understanding is the basis for high-quality evaluation systems that can drive professional growth. Our goal is to help all teachers grow throughout their careers.
We believe teachers and administrators need a common language and vision about what constitutes effective practice. Being able to identify and articulate these practices allows administrators to assess teachers and provide them with feedback on their strengths and areas for growth.
Here are our graphic notes I created from our norming session today:
It is said a global citizen is someone who identifies with being part of an emerging world community and whose actions contribute to building this community’s values and practices. We are going to have to learn to be effective change agents of a global future. We will need to create our own future, rather than trying to predict the outcome of all these global forces. Today the forces of global engagement are helping some people identify themselves as global citizens, meaning that they have a sense of belonging to a world community. This growing global identity in large part is made possible by the forces of modern information, communication, and transportation technologies.
“We know this much. The world is not going to be dominated by any one great power. For Americans that’s going to be a very difficult thing to accept. Most of us still see a world – the world of 1960 – in which America was the only great power, and the only functioning economy.” ~ Peter Drucker
Global citizens are also moved by a desire to make a positive contribution through their professional and personal lives. When it comes to being a member of the global community, will you be a leader, challenger, or spectator. Furthermore, we must bring global competency skills into our schools.
- Kids need skills to navigate globally!
- Kids Need To Navigate Shrinking World!
The skills and insights students can gain from interacting with people of different nations and cultures is critical as America engages more intensely with an increasingly global marketplace and interdependent world.
We must all serve as global community leaders and engage in the dialogue, to care about the issues and become a global citizen.
“To the world you may just be one person…but to one person you might just be the world.” ~ Mark Twain
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The first thing that struck me about this book was Denis’ use of Thinking Questions at the end of every chapter to guide the reader through the learning. As we know, questions open the door to the future and are more powerful than answers in that they demand engagement. I couldn’t help but be engaged as I read this book. As a believer in the fact that context and relevance matters, this book hits the mark.
Denis shows you how he brings his life into the classroom. Whether we like it or not, our students want to get to know us – and why not? Or, why would we not want to form that relationship? As Denis said, “We have no choice but to make learning more relevant to our students, or they will learn without us.” If you want to make school work relevant and learn along with your students, you need to read this book.
~Dr. Byron L. Ernest
So, here is the fifth of six guest posts from our Focused Leader Academy teacher leaders. If you take a look at the parts of a good blog post we created I believe you will see that Brenda Culbertson and Amanda Case have connected with readers by finding a great hook, have included visuals, and told a story that you, as the reader, can use. Take a minute and check our their view on Emojis.
Emoji: To Use or Not to Use?
Let’s eat, Grandma.
Let’s eat Grandma!
Just like punctuation, Emojis can change the meaning of a sentence. The meaning can be changed for the better or the worse. There is a strong benefit and hindrance to using emojis in written language. The hindrance is that emojis can be misinterpreted and the benefit is that emojis can aid in the tone of the intended message.
Emojis can be misinterpreted when something as simple as 😉 is used. This can be a symbol of an inside joke or a flirtation. The problem is the person on the receiving may take it the opposite way you wanted them to…creating a “pinch”. Should you have used the emoji in the first place?
The most evident benefit is that the symbol can add to the tone of your message so that the receiver reads the message as you meant. For example, in a message that seems flat, a smiley face can add a tone of happiness. Can the emoji add an emphasis to your tone?
Emojis are here to stay regardless of whether you think they are a benefit or hindrance in your communication. You need to ask yourself, does the emoji help or hurt my message?
Brenda and Amanda
So pumped to be bringing you the fourth of six guest posts from teacher leader participants in our Focused Leader Academy. These posts are a result of a session on blogging. No powerpoints or lists of to-dos, just co-creation of a blog post by pairs of our teacher leaders. They even created the stickers pictured at the beginning of the posts with an Emoji maker. Remember, our essential question always is “What can we create together?” Enjoy this post from Kris Phillips and Berry Wells:
Before, you had to worry about students dropping an “F bomb”. Just wait until you get an “Emoji Exploji” in your classroom! For better or for worse, emojis have exploded in our culture. Now we must choose to embrace or reject them.
😀What are the benefits of emojis in the classroom?
• Engage students
• Fast & Fun
• Easy pulse check
😕What are the drawbacks of emojis in the classroom?
• Can be distracting
• Discourages language use
• Can be misinterpreted
• Can be inappropriate
• Can be offensive
Regardless of your personal opinion, emojis are a form of communication, and they are here to stay. The question is will you embrace society’s infatuation with this trend, or will you reject the idiocracy of the emoji exploji? The choice is yours. 😜
When creating the ideal school community for meaningful teacher evaluation we must clearly define the expectations for effective teaching at our schools. We must also effectively communicate the criteria that will be used to evaluate teacher performance. Personally, I believe the most important aspect of teacher evaluation is to ensure professional growth for our teachers in order to move them toward being highly effective. Our school has become a part of the Indiana Teacher Appraisal and Support System (INTASS) and I love how Dr. Sandi Cole, Director of Center on Education and Lifelong Learning puts it: “Teacher evaluation must be something done for teachers, not to them.” This statement has become a core value of our work of overhauling our entire teacher evaluation process. The INTASS process rests on four basic elements of a quality evaluation plan: a) Clear, frequent, and transparent communication among a wide base of stakeholders; b) Professional practice measures that are mutually agreed upon by stakeholders; c) Multiple measures of student learning outcomes, and d) Fully aligned post-evaluation processes, including job-embedded professional growth and support for all educators.
Another crucial part of this process is the norming of evaluators. We have chosen to have a monthly retreat of our evaluation team to ensure that evaluators have an accurate and aligned perception of classroom practice and student growth. This norming process also guarantees assigned evaluation ratings that are accurate reflections of teacher effectiveness. During norming, evaluators align or “calibrate” their scoring so that every member of the team applies the rubric consistently across teachers, and of the team of evaluators scores consistently with one another (inter-rater reliability). Having similar scoring and uniform expectations of teacher effectiveness is critical if you want to make meaningful comparisons among teachers.
I have also found the norming to be a good time for our administrative staff to engage in professional development for the purpose supporting effective leading of learning. A healthy team culture—and ultimately the school’s performance—rely on the team’s ability to encourage individual improvement in constructive ways. Through our norming process, administrative team members are learning and practicing the skills and dispositions necessary to mentor, coach, and evaluate colleagues. Our norming process has enabled the team to practice a model of shared leadership. By having regular norming retreats, team members are able to refine their collaboration skills and dispositions to ensure the team’s ability to act according to its shared purpose of enabling and empowering all of our teachers to be highly effective.
At this past week’s norming retreat I was struck by the amount of learning and professional growth that also went on with the administrative team of evaluators. There were discussions of how to more effectively use technology, sharing of best practices witnessed such as for checking for mastery, and new ways of engaging students; just to name a few. We even discussed the use of Emojis for engaging students. I couldn’t help but draw my own Emoji (shared in the picture above) as I graphically facilitated the norming retreat. We also were able to identify areas where we need to provide professional development learning opportunities for our teachers. I believe my role as a leader is not necessarily to always be a better role model or to drive change; my role is to create structures and experiences that bring our community of staff members together to identify and solve their own issues and drive improvement. Holding these norming retreats has enabled this structure of experiences for our administrative staff.
This norming process has become an important piece of being able for our school community to answer the question of “What can we create together?” I believe we are creating a community of continual improvement and one where our teachers are valued as professionals and given the feedback and resources to be the very best. I am attaching images of our notes from our latest norming retreat so you can see what went on:
This past week I had the opportunity with Mike Fleisch to do a design sprint (what others would call a workshop) on our school’s Focused Leader Academy. During our design sprint we built models together of what a community would look like where there is a serious commitment to developing leaders. I told the design sprint participants that I now described what we were doing as community building, not culture building. Culture emerges from the past values we develop together. I would rather us live in the context of the world we live in now and, more importantly, how do we want the world to be. With this worldview in mind, we wanted the group think about what a community of people in a school could create together.
Daniel Goleman said “Executives who can effectively focus on others emerge as natural leaders regardless of organizational or social rank.” These leaders are the ones who find common ground, whose opinions carry the most weight, and with whom other people want to work.They emerge as natural leaders regardless of organizational or social rank. As leaders we need focus on others, which is the foundation of empathy and of an ability to build social relationships.
As a leader I believe it is important for me to be available to stakeholders so that I have the opportunity to meet others, engage in conversation, and share thoughts, ideas and concerns, and to build community and a sense of belonging. It has been my experience that those I serve have lots of wisdom, the ability to make connections, and to help come up with solutions.
Peter Block said “We will never eliminate our need for great leaders and people on the stage; we just cannot afford to put all our experience and future in their hands.” To be a transformative leader we must create communities (a community can be our organization, school, or business too) that produce deeper relatedness across boundaries. Additionally we need to create new conversations that focus on the gifts and capacities of others.
“Leaders are held to three tasks: to shift the context within which people gather, name the debate through powerful questions, and listen rather than advocate, defend, or provide answers.” ~ Peter Block
I have now begun to talk in terms of community instead of culture. We need to begin to think of all the contexts we operate within are communities. Community then grows out of the possibilities of those in our communities. It is those citizens that build our communities. I have learned that the culture is the set of shared values that emerges from the history of experience and the story that is produced out of that. It is the past that gives us our identity and corrals our behavior in order to preserve that identity. Context is the way we see the world. Peter Block taught us to see the world, not remember the world.
So, as we continue to improve the communities in which we live, work, and lead we need to continually ask the question “What can we create together?” This emerges from the social space we create when we are together.
Today is Thanksgiving – a joyous and festive kickoff to the holiday season. Many of us have a lot to be thankful for, including family and friends, and I’m especially thankful that I’m able to serve as a leader making significant strides in education. I also very thankful for all those I work with, serve, or have associations with. I am particularly thankful for all teachers who put in on the line every day for our sons and daughters. Please know that when I count my blessings I count you twice!
During this holiday season, take time to reflect on what you are thankful for. While we have many improvements to make in our educational community, and always will, we have many things to be thankful for.
Education options are more flexible than ever. Not too many years ago, proximity and zip code was a crucial part of education. If you didn’t live near a school, you were unlikely to have any access to it. The ability to have choices had made all the difference for huge numbers of our children and adults.
Today, we are more connected to k-12 and postsecondary education than ever before. There are evening classes, online options for both secondary and traditional college programs, and certificate programs for people who want to learn a specific set of skills or continue their professional growth.
As I reflect this morning on my education, both past and present, I am thankful that I was taught to think critically, solve problems creatively, analyze and be open to the world around us, and most importantly how to learn. I believe it is important for us to remember that it is during our education we learn our sense of community. Within a school setting, a child quickly learns the importance of teamwork and cooperation. A school requires a joint effort to be safe and clean. That’s when our children learn first-hand that everyone can make a difference and everyone’s efforts are important.
I am also thankful schools don’t just teach our children academic curriculum. Schools are also helping our children develop into respectful global citizens. It is at school that our children are presented with life lessons they may not have learned at home.providing our children with lessons in acceptance. Our children are learning that not everyone speaks the same language, wears the same types of clothes, or eats the same types of foods at lunches. And that’s all okay. Our children are learning to take time to truly understand others and embrace who they are.
While our education system certainly has room for improvement across multiple factors, I believe we need to be thankful for all the great things happening in education.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book really caused me to do a great deal of reflection about education and my own education in particular. As a believer in lifelong learning, Adams assured me that investing in learning at any point in life is a sound investment. His teachings also made me reflect on the fact that living life is an education in and of itself. We need to make sure we are using the context in which we live and all the experiences to learn at the highest level. How do we do this? I believe we can learn from Adams that it is ok that we are ignorant at every new turn in life and that we need to begin learning from everyone and every experience we have. If I were to sum up the book in one statement it would be, “Your life’s journey is your education.”
In this book, Henry Adams is not talking about himself as much as he is of the education and the context in which he lived provided an education. Adams serves as the narrator in this book. At the writing he is in his late sixties and refers to himself in the third person. This is an interesting way to read an autobiography that I am not sure I like, but I got used to it. Sometimes his referring to himself in third person made it made it hard to follow, but in the context of making living life our education this was probably the right way to do it. In his “Preface,” he introduces the metaphor of a manikin, which represents Henry Adams. The various garments draped across the manikin represent his education. It was this metaphor and how all events proved learning that I formed the opinion that Adams believed in lifelong learning. He continually refers to his ignorance, which told me he was of a growth mindset long before the development of the “growth mindset” theory.
Adams tells his readers that any young man seeking education should expect no more from his teacher than the mastery of his tools. Leaning on the scientific approach that he develops in the education, he suggests that the student is merely a mass of energy. The education he seeks is a way to economize that energy. The training by the instructor is a manner of clearing obstacles from the path of the student. My take on Adams’ position is that a person’s life in its entirety is our education.
Adams wrote, “Probably no child, born in the year, held better cards than he.” Adams also told us that the world he lived was rapidly changing – as it does for all of us. It is a world of contrasts. It was this contrast that Adams used throughout the book to discuss his education. In the book Adams states that as yet he knows nothing. Even after graduating from Harvard, he did not believe his education had begun. My sense is he believed in learning by doing and being the person in the arena. Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book:
– The Ego has … become a manikin on which the toilet of education is to be draped in order to show the fit or misfit of the clothes. The object of study is the garment, not the figure.
– Nothing in education is so astonishing as the amount of ignorance it accumulates in the form of inert facts.
– The object of education for that mind should be the teaching itself how to react with vigor and economy. No doubt the world at large will always lag so far behind the active mind as to make a soft cushion of inertia to drop upon, as it did for Henry Adams; but education should try to lessen the obstacles, diminish the friction, invigorate the energy, and should train minds to react, not at haphazard, but by choice, on the lines of force that attract their world.
And… my favorite of all the quotes: “Man does not concern himself with understanding how discoveries can be used. He will let the discovery show him how.” I really believe this reinforces my theory that Adams believed that our life’s journey is our education. How would you write the autobiography of your education? What do you need to be doing in your context to have it read how you would like it to? This book will cause you to reflect.
~ Dr. Byron L. Ernest