Will you take the pledge: I will only use the term “21st Century” as a noun, not an adjective

All students at school right now have only been at school in the 21st Century and the majority of them were born in the 21st Century.

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Language we use in education needs to be relevant and have meaning to the context. I believe there is no place for the use of “21st Century” as an adjective, it is 2014 after all. This applies to:

  • 21st Century Doo Wop21st Century learning
  • 21st Century skills
  • 21st Century schools
  • 21st Century education
  • 21st Century spaces

 

 

 

Today we can just say: learning, skills, schools, education and spaces. We know, and are excited, that the “21st Century” requires a different approach than what the 20th Century had to offer. The young people at school now have only really known:

  • Mobile devices, rather than desktop computers
  • The Internet as the source of information and Google and Wikipedia as the gateway
  • Wireless connectivity
  • Music and video as device-based, not stored separately to the player, such as videotape and CD
  • Simple and fast long distance communication as the norm
  • Social media as communication and information source
  • Photographs and video immediately available for viewing
  • International travel and communication as normal and accessible to many
  • Queensland beating NSW in the State of Origin Rugby League Football series*

We use “21st Century” as an adjective because it has adequately described an aspiration. The way we would like to see schools meeting the needs of the young people we serve. But language is alive, it’s organic and can change.

Dictionaries provide updates of the words and terms that have reached everyday speech. In 2013 new terms were officially recognised by the Oxford Dictionary, including:

  • BYOD
  • babymoon
  • double denim
  • FOMO
  • MOOC
  • srsly
  • twerk (sadly)

We now have the opportunity to either add the words/terms we would like to see, or create new ones. The more we use them in speech and written forms, the more they will be used.

Think about changing… Replace with…
lesson and period
describing learning as a discrete,
time-bound activity
learning session
computer (anything)
skills, room, lesson, the thing itself
technology, device
homework
tasks set that could not be finished
in class or for extra drills
pre-learning, post learning, applied learning
occurs outside school hours, but not
necessarily at home
discipline
describing the system
relationship management
behaviour development
classroom learning space, or just give the spaces
their own unique names
desks and chairs furniture
student learner

There are some terms that will probably stay. I think we still say ‘teacher’, the nature of the role continues to change and encompasses a broad range of skills and expertise. I can’t see it ever replaced by ‘facilitator’, this is just one of the skills a teacher needs.

The more we use the desired terminology in context, the more the community will understand what we mean.

How else would FOMO not require a descriptor?

@anneknock

*Australian Interstate football rivalry, that to date, has seen Queensland will 9 series in a row… maybe this year.

Excuse me, Change Agent, what’s your strategy? How-to guide for educators.

I am on the board of Halogen Foundation. This is a wonderful opportunity to make a contribution to the leadership development for a generation. Halogen runs the hugely popular National Young Leaders Day across Australia and exists to:

“to inspire and influence a generation of young people to lead themselves and others well”

I really enjoy the board meetings and they are also a great learning experience for me, as we collaboratively develop strategy to guide the future direction of the organisation. Working with the fellow board members and the CEO we focus on the big picture. This is what strategy is all about.

A strategy is how we turn ideas into action.

An idea alone doesn’t change anything. Actions in isolation may either help or hinder. Articulating a strategy provides a plan. Yet, as the board chair at Halogen remarked at a recent board meeting, “a strategy is just a hypothesis”.

What is strategy?

Put simply, it relates to plans and actions that will help you to achieve goals. Blue sky thinking is really important in the early stage, but if we just stay there we will achieve little and just ‘do stuff’. There comes a time when strategy and discipline needs to be applied for change to become reality.

Many of us have learnt this along the way, yet as we face a society of fast-paced change, the skills and process of working strategically have become more critical. If we are working in teams on projects, then adopting a strategic approach facilitates progress.

Change AgentThis applies at every level of responsibility in a school, not just the executive team, remember:

  • Change agents are leaders
  • Leaders can be anywhere in an organisation

 

How do we develop strategy to meet our goals, however large or small?

If you have accepted the role of Change Agent, then growing the skills of strategic planning is an important step.

Developing goals and implementing a plan is a process available to anyone. No longer just the domain of the board or Senior Leadership Team.

Strategy involved three elements

Goals: Identifying what do you want to do

People: Deciding who is going to do it with you

Activity: Planning what things are you going to do (and by when)

Where do you start?

Strategic planning is a process that starts with a floodlight and
narrows into a laser beam.

The Floodlight

Your team: __________________________

Who is with you on this process? It is important that you are working collaboratively on the strategy. Educators are no longer lone rangers and need to work in teams.

Your goal: __________________________

Goals that are clear and well-articulated will guide process. It needs to be:

  • Relevant and add value to the school
  • Consistent with the school’s vision/mission/values
  • Completed by…
  • Measured
  • Achieve something purposeful and meaningful
  • Worth all the effort

Predict the Future: 

What will it look like when we have achieved our goal? Draw, make, creatively express the future. Have some fun in this stage. There needs to be a good reason why you have your goal. Leaders change things for the better. So, what is “the better”?

Understand the Now:

A realistic assessment of Where am I? is essential and a SWOT Analysis is a good place to gather information.

SWOT

What is the Big Opportunity?

The goal is important as the basis of the strategic plan, but may not be exciting enough to “sell” your idea to the team. Reframing your goal as a Big Opportunity makes the task ahead something that engages and excites people.

The Big Opportunity

Narrowing the beam

The next step is taking the broad information and start to focus the light on your goal. It’s time to put pen to paper on your idea. Spending time working on planning documents is essential and develops accountability. This involves articulating your goal in a way that creates a plan of action.

Start answering these big questions.

The next step

Narrowing your ideas even further involves making decisions and these decisions are commit to action. One of the most difficult thing is committing to a time frame.

The plan is your road map.

The plan

Strategic planning is a discipline. It’s not set in stone, you can deviate from the path as time progresses, but it provides the essential point for implementing ideas, guiding your team and leading change.

@anneknock

Change Agents are Leaders: Are these roadblocks preventing change for your team? #fourtransitions

The essence of leadership is change. Change unsettles people and obstacles emerge.

Of course, there are those of us that are quick to leap at something new, the ones who normally lead the way. These people, I know from personal experience, are excited by the vision for change and can see potential in the ‘new’ but can be frustrated by those that can’t easily embrace change.

At these times I am reminded of one of Covey’s Seven Habits – #5

Seek first to understand, then be understood.

If our role as leaders is to take people through change, it is helpful to consider the Law of Diffusion of Innovation, first developed in 1962 by Everitt Rogers, a professor of rural sociology.

Diffusion of Innovation

This graph helps to explain what is happening internally when people are faced with change. Not everybody will immediately think your plans and ideas are their own next steps. However, as leaders we are in the business of change and movement, not status quo and standing still.

(Image from Sinek, Start With Why)

 

At each stage of the Four Transitions to Culture Change different roadblocks can hinder the process

Four transitions

Building Knowledge:
Complacency

Shifting Mindsets:
Fear and doubt

Forming New Habits:
Stuck

Changing Culture:
Uncertainty

 


Complacency: I don’t need to change anything

When people are complacent they see no sense of urgency. There is comfort in doing what they have always done.

Creating a sense of urgency for change, providing the right and timely information can shift people out of self-satisfaction. This needs to be a true sense of urgency.

The change agent’s role is to know your people and know that they have different motivators. This will help you to provide the right information, experiences and examples that provides the evidence that change is required.

Solution: Create a sense of urgency


Fear and doubt: Will it be better or worse for me?

Overcoming fear and doubt is as much about listening, as it is speaking. We need to stop and listen. Change agents and innovators are excitable individuals. All of our communication needs to appreciate where we are and how we got to be here, and then point to a better future.

Unless there is a sense of confidence in the future and in the leaders to take them there, the necessary changes in behaviour will not be lasting.

Solution: Give confidence


Stuck: I can’t change the way I do things

“If you want to change a habit, you must find an alternative routine, and the odds of your success go up dramatically.” Duhigg (2012), The Power of Habit

Brain research has taught us about habits. According to Duhigg, habits occur when our brain is in automatic mode. A behavioural cue triggers the brain, a routine kicks in, and then there is a reward. Habits change when the routine changes. The cue and the reward can stay the same, yet behaviour is transformed.

Solution: Replace the routine


Uncertainty: Is anyone else doing this

Certainty is achieved when people realise they aren’t the only ones thinking this way. The key to shifting the thinking in the late majority is showing them that there is a growing school of thought by many, not just the whacky few.

Twitter has been an incredible phenomenon in education. Many of us for many years have longed for change in education, yet felt alone. Being part of a social media tribe, sharing ideas and resources has meant that others thinking the same things can create a movement for change. There is power when we realise we aren’t alone.

Solution: Create a movement. Grow a tribe


Leadership takes people on a journey to a better future.

“If you think you’re leading and no one is following you, then you’re only taking a walk.”
Afghan proverb

@anneknock

Change Agents are Leaders: The four transitions toward culture change in your school

Change, culture and leadership are concepts that are inseparable.

Achieving the desired culture for your team or school requires a process of change, and leadership is essential to make this happen. In my last post I encouraged you to consider leading change and taking on the role of  a change agent wherever you are in your school, organisation, or even your family.

What makes you a leader is that there is an idea or a vision for the future that you cannot shake, and you are compelled to do something about it. This idea will make life better for someone and your mantra needs to be “if not me, then who?”

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

Transitions are the phases we work through on the way to changing culture. If  we can simplify this process, then change can be more achievable. It doesn’t mean that change is necessarily as quick and as simple as we would like it to be, but a clear process can help to track progress.

As I have thought about this, played around with ideas and read about culture change, I have identified four transitions to change culture. The change process begins inside, and then as it reaches a critical mass of people, culture change occurs.Four transitions

1. Building Knowledge

2. Shifting Mindsets

3. Forming New Habits

4. Changing Culture

How can you grow a culture of collaboration in your school?

1. Building KnowledgeBuilding knowledge

Many people facing change want to know the facts. What does research tell us? Are there case studies we can draw from? What are the pros and cons? Providing the right conditions, the fertile ground of knowledge and information is the first step. This includes preempting questions and concerns and having some answers ready will help facilitate this process.

 

2. Shifting MindsetsShifting midsets

At some point during the Building Knowledge phase, the seed of a changing mindset will start to germinate. This is when we begin to have a change in attitude. There is a lot of pondering and thinking through what the vision will look like in reality.

 

 

 

3. Forming New HabitsForming new habits

As mindsets and attitudes change, the seed has taken root, the plant starts to rise above the surface and changing behaviour is evident. This behaviour shows new habits that are consistent with the vision and the desired culture.

 

 

 

4. Changing CultureChanging Culture

When there is a critical mass of changed behaviour, then the new culture can flourish. It’s not just one plant above the surface, but a landscaped garden begins to emerge.

 

 

 

Organisations everywhere are struggling to keep up with the pace of change – let alone get ahead of it.* This process is both continual and parallel. As leaders we need to accept the complexity and rate of change, because… If not you, then who?

@anneknock

*Accelerate, John P. Kotter, 2014

Position vacant – Change Agent: 6 characteristics required to lead change wherever you are.

Change AgentThis is an exciting time to be in education. There is a groundswell for change, that will eventually see governments and administrators stop and take notice. The innovation in school education that so many of us seek seems to be low on their policy agenda at the moment. So as a result leaders are emerging, individuals, groups and entire schools, are taking action and creating a movement.

 

The time for incremental, slow-moving change has passed, and now we need to step it up a pace. Leaders are restless people. They see and sense the need for change, but usually the biggest blocker is the culture that surrounds them. It can be conducive to change, or resistant. 

To change culture effectively we need to strategically position change agents in schools.

Position vacant: Change Agent

Thank you for applying to become a change agent. Before we go any further, you need to realise that being a change agent is synonymous with leadership. There are a plethora of change agent positions available. Here are a few things you need to know before applying:

Leaders change things.

Leaders are at all levels in an organisation.

Leaders are not content with the status quo

People are looking for leaders.

People will be poorly led, if that’s the only option available.

People often resist change.

Change is inspired by vision.

Change requires strategy

Change is effective when it disrupts the prevailing culture.

Change is a subject, an attitude or an environment that can polarise people. There are those who love it and those who are terrified by it and many in between who sit on a bell curve from acceptance to rejection.

Position Vacant: Change Agent

Essential Criteria for Change Agents

Only passionate, inspired and selfless individuals should apply. This is hard work, and in the initial phases, there may be little return for your effort. You will need to be:

Motivated by meaning and purpose: Being an effective change agent starts internally. You will not be successful if this is just your next step on the ladder of success. You want to do this because you know that change is essential to for growth, improvement and potential.

Positive outlook on life: You possess a can-do attitude that excites people and compels them to join you on the mission. You are known for being a glass-half-full kind of person.

Self awareness: Change agents are optimistic, but also have a good grasp on their own strengths and limitations. You need to build a team with complementary skills and talents. People with honest self-awareness attract great talent.

Courage to ask tough questions: This is not mutually exclusive with having a positive outlook. As a change agent you will not be a person who accepts the status quo. You will need to find alignment between roles and goals and develop a plan. This will mean shaking things up.

Warmth and good humour: Shaking things up and being courageous needs to be conveyed in such a way that relationships are not only maintained, but strengthened. Not everyone will accept your ideas, but that is a choice that they have made, so long as you have prioritised relationships along the way.

Authenticity: Maintaining trust and respect, through navigating difficult waters is essential. This is achieved by being real and responding in a way that models a healthy culture

Perks and conditions

Change agents can’t assume there will be any. You do it because you believe that students need an education that will better equip them for their future. You will, however, belong to a tribe of world-wide change agents.

There is no application process. Just get started and make a difference.

@anneknock


 

Ref: Dr Samual Chand – Ch 5: Change starts with me.

Cracking Your Church’s Culture Code: Seven Keys to Unleashing Vision and Inspiration

SCIL Vision Tour 2014: World’s best museums are the epitome of personalised learning

As a child I can remember running around the old Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences in Sydney, where UTS is now located, flicking switches, seeing lights and mechanical things buzz. It was fun. I was the daughter of an engineer, and I think some of this rubbed off onto me. I always loved to tinker with things and play with technology.

Over the past few years when planning the SCIL Vision Tour we have made a point of not just visiting schools, but looking at the variety of places where learning occurs. This includes museums, not the dusty-old-stuffed-animal kind, but the ones where learning comes alive.NEMO

NEMO, the science centre on the harbour in Amsterdam proudly displays the sign “Forbidden not to touch”. This place provides a whole body and mind experience of science. Where else can you actually stand inside your own giant bubble?Universe

Universe, the science theme park in Sonderborg, Denmark, goes beyond hands-on, they aim for “body on” learning.

The Jorvik Viking Centre in York immerses the visitors in the viking experience and an archeological dig. It captures all the senses, there is even the smell of the era.

Great places of learning capture the hearts, minds and imagination. The Third Teacher Consultancy came up with: 79 WAYS YOU CAN USE DESIGN TO TRANSFORM TEACHING + LEARNING which includes elements that bring the museum experience to school:

#14 MULTIPLY INTELLIGENCES: Allow students time and space to choose what they want to do – their choices will illuminate their original strengths.

#54 THINK HANDS ON: Children of all ages need places where they can learn by touching, manipulating and making things with their hands

#72 PUT THEORY INTO PRACTICE; Give students spaces – studios, workshops and laboratories – where they can test ideas

and, of course…

#16 EMULATE MUSEUMS: An environment rich in evocative objects  – whether it’s a classroom or museum – trigger active learning by letting students pick what to engage with.

What if schools were like the museums where there is ‘push and pull’ learning as needed? Great museums ‘push’ information in innovative, engaging and creative ways, but also provide opportunities for learners to ‘pull’ in what they need. This is truly personalised learning.

What makes a great museum? Of course, I Googled it and found Museum Planner 

“we plan and build wonder”

The answer to my question started there. A great museum creates wonder. When we visited Danfoss Universe in Denmark, in 2011, we heard from the director about the underpinning to the learning. The science theme park grew out of the vision of the Danfoss founder Jorgensen Mads Clauson, who said,

Universe

Yes, we could lift a car!

“We need a new place to bring passion for science and technology back to our children. Danfoss Universe shall be such a place.”

Today the park is brimming with excited learners of all ages exploring all sorts of science related subjects, in a ‘body on’ way. But underpinning the fun is the theory of interest development, each layer building on the last:

Trigger situational interest

Maintain situational interest

Emerging personal interest

Maintained personal interest

The role of the great museum is to provide the trigger for wonder, that can be maintained beyond the experience, where the student wants to take if further – create the context to become lifelong learners

Great museums captivate the imagination and provide a place where passion for learning can be unleashed. They are visually stimulating and the best indicator is that we don’t want to leave.

Could schools be like that?

As educators and school designers we need to take the opportunities to see the best and most creative learning environments in the world. Not only for our own ‘body on’ experience, but to observe how young people can be interested and curious, independent of the teacher. Given the right environment and left to their own devices they will learn and explore, discover and create, and hypothesise and synthesise.

Schools have much to learn from great museums.

This October, the SCIL Vision Tour will again have a focus on museums as part of the tour. Some museums visits are planned as part of the tour, including Cite des Sciences in Paris, In Flanders Field in Ypres/leper and possibly (if itinerary allows)  forbidden-not-touch at NEMO in Amsterdam. In addition there may be time for the participants to choose to visit some of the world’s most famous ones, Louvre, Musee d’Orsay, Centre Pompidou, Rijksmuseum, British Museum, British Natural History Museum.IMG_1389

2 – 16 OCTOBER, 2014
SPAIN – FRANCE – BELGIUM – NETHERLANDS – UK
Register your interest: contact info here

@anneknock

Leadership again: “I’ve opened the space for learning, now what?” #thingsyoushouldneversay

Imagine if the story of the stork delivering the baby was true.

When I was young, kids’ TV shows didn’t dare mention, or even allude to, the real method of conception and delivery. Instead, we saw the image of a stork delivering a baby, perhaps unsuspectingly, to the happy couple.

The Stork

“The baby’s here, now what?” Imagine that.

Prior to the arrival of our first-born, by the conventional method of course, there was much preparation for this newest family member. We made initial plans and preparation for the responsibilities ahead – bought supplies, furniture and the enormous amount of equipment that the small person apparently required.

When he arrived we muddled our way through. As time went on we adjusted our plans and expectations, however, the months of preparation were essential. This baby was going to change our lives. It definitely wasn’t a matter of ‘business as usual’ once he arrived.

Open Space Learning: From conception to inceptionPArklands

Like any great idea, plan or endeavour there is a point of conception, when the idea was first formed. I have heard anecdotal accounts of teachers arriving for the new school year, finding walls down and shared learning spaces created. It didn’t end well.

Just like prior to the arrival of a baby, there are significant preparations to be made. The role of the team/school leader is to simultaneously listen and respond to concerns and to reinforce vision and direction.

At Northern Beaches Christian School shared spaces for learning are constantly being developed. In 2008 it started with Year 7 in the Global Learning Village, 2010 with The Zone for Stage 3 and Year 8 Quest for an integration of Science and Geography. Over the past few years the idea has spread across primary, to maths, design, technology and music.Rhythm & Blues

The development of each of these spaces requires constant attention, prior to staff and students using the open space, and then continued development, even after occupancy:

From conception – the germ of the idea

1. Reinforce a positive mindset, while considering every concern

If you truly believe that opening and sharing learning spaces are the right thing, then stick with it. Listen to concerns, respond to them, be empathic and supportive, while simultaneously resolute about the decision.

2. Design the space to achieve the vision The Zone

A sledgehammer to the walls is only the first step. Unless the physical environment is carefully crafted the space will more than likely default to a modified single cell use. Name and define zones within the open space.

3. Constantly communicate the desired culture (behaviour)

Be clear on how the space will be used. Communicate it and communicate it again. Share stories and paint pictures. Spark excitement and enthusiasm. The more that the leader talks about the changes the better.

To inception – the starting point

4. Be fluid and flexible Design Studio

Once staff and students start using the space adjustments will be made. This is normal. The vision remains clear, but execution needs to be tweaked. As a leader, be involved in all these discussions. It is important to keep the vision clear.

5. Take action to ensure that behaviours don’t default to old ways

Without reinforcing the vision, culture and desired behaviours old habits can creep in. Cupboards and bookcases can become walls spaces become delineated instead of fluid zones. Communicate vision and communicate it again

Opening spaces for learning is definitely not a ‘business as usual’ activity. Like the passing of time between conception and delivery of a baby, preparations for this ‘baby’ needs to commence as early as possible. School leaders not only need to fully own the decision, but give teachers the support and encouragement for the idea to grow and mature.

@anneknock