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

Charting a course for change: Is your culture the elephant in the room? (and other mixed metaphors)

Peter Drucker once famously said,  “culture eats strategy for breakfast”.

Culture: the ideas, customs, and social behaviour of a particular people or society

How would you describe your school or organisation’s culture?

Positive, vibrant and exciting?

Demoralised, weary and fearful?

Or somewhere in between?

Leaders are in the process of continuous change, taking people on a journey.  As the leader you may have an inspiring strategic plan, clearly articulated mission and vision statements, and effective systems and processes in place, but unless the culture is assessed and addressed, these grand plans will come to nothing, by “breakfast”.

Your culture is the most powerful factor in change, it determines:

  • speed of change
  • receptivity for change
  • health of your people
  • impact of your vision and mission
  • effectiveness and influence in the long term

What’s floating your boat?

Sydney to HobartOne of my favourite places over summer is Nielsen Park on the harbour in Sydney. It is the vantage point for the annual Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race in December each year and I find it fascinating to watch the boats jostle for position, maintain speed and agility until the siren starts the race.

What does sailing and culture have in common?

Your boat

There is an interconnection between each of these elements but the hull is what makes it a boat, and in the same way, it’s the culture that makes or breaks any organisation. None is culture-free. Without the hull, the other parts become the accessories.

Is this still a boat?

Dr Samuel Chand* identifies the types of cultures that define an organisation and impact the ability to progress.

How would you describe your culture?

Inspiring: Sleek, fast, regatta-winning boat with prevailing winds

Accepting: Potential to do well in the regatta.

Stagnant: Becalmed and not going anywhere

Discouraging: Not a very well-maintained boat

Toxic: The boat may look really good on the outside, but is not seaworthy and actually dangerous

What do you need to do?

If Drucker’s famous statement is true, then a leader cannot ignore the prevailing culture, despite how exciting and innovative the vision and mission may be.

The place to start is under the waterline – building an environment of trust, respect and authenticity.

@anneknock

*Ref: Dr Samual Chand, Cracking Your Church’s Culture Code: Seven Keys to Unleashing Vision and Inspiration

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

 

 

Leadership Culture 201: Two steps to transforming your school

CompassTwo steps to transforming your school:

Step 1: Find your true north

Step 2: Do everything that will make Step 1 happen

Many of us agree that the historical model of school is broken and not serving the future, or even the present. Often the factory analogy of separation is used to describe the education that many of us received:oldschool

  • Separated rooms

  • Separated teachers

  • Separated classes

  • Separated furniture

  • Separated preparation and planning

This model has led to teachers as the driver, represents dependence and independence (not interdependence), one size fits all, confrontation, control and the relational tensions that often arise. Students usually become either compliant and passive vessels, or defiant and active resistors.

Many educators know that transformation is essential, collaboration is necessary and rethinking student success an imperative. We also know that it’s not a simple thing to transform a school, but perhaps distilling the magnitude of change to a few key priorities can help.

PDOur team at SCIL, the innovation centre at NBCS in Sydney, works with educators to kick-start or facilitate one or a few priorities on the journey of change. When edu-visitors come to the school I often sense they are overwhelmed by the possibilities and sometimes have difficulty articulating the impact of the experience. We notice that there can be two main responses:

  • I want to do everything

  • I can’t do anything

Over time we have refined our process and program for the day to help visitors interpret the experience and begin to articulate their next steps. Essential to this is the concept of navigating the journey and finding their own ‘true north’. What they are seeing when they come to NBCS is almost 10 years of development. It didn’t happen overnight, but under Stephen Harris’ leadership this ship is navigating toward ‘true north’.

Step 1: Find your ‘true north’

Authentic leadership requires a compass to guide and map the path ahead. Mariners know that locating true north is essential for accurate navigation. Magnetic north varies from place to place over time. To find true north it is necessary to know, but not follow, local magnetic variations. Finding your true north, rather than the magnetic north, will mean that you aren’t meandering but focussed on where you are going.

What is ‘true north’ for your students? It may be something like: To create learning culture that gives every student every opportunity to succeed.

What is ‘true north’ for your staff? It may be something like: To support and challenge educators to grow and stretch as they provide students every opportunity to succeed.

What is ‘true north’ for yourself? It may be something like: To be the leader that my team/school needs me to be for their success.

Do everything that will make Step 1 happenplectrum

Once true north is identified and success is articulated, then what? Perhaps it is gaining alignment of your community across a few important areas:

  • empowering students

  • growing staff

  • renewing parent and community mindsets

And then setting your priorities and milestones that will break down the ‘separated’ mindset:

  • Articulating the desired culture for learning, relating and leadership

  • Rethinking pedagogy that empowers the learner

  • Questioning everything that has been traditionally associated with ‘school’

  • Establishing shared language

  • Ensuring collaboration on all levels

  • Creating the physical and virtual environment to support

GatewayWhen the teams leave NBCS after their day we hope they have been given the time and space to process and develop at least one ‘next step’. Transforming the concept of school, something that is so embedded in our society, is not for the faint-hearted.

But we feel, at least, that as we grow a tribe of like-minded and committed educators we all know we are part of something very important, life-changing.

@anneknock

To visit Northern Beaches Christian School and find out more about what we do at SCIL visit our website 

 

 

Leadership Culture 101: Model great #followership to build collaboration.

The culture of leadership in the 21st century is relational and collaborative. The pressure is off leaders to feel that they must have all the answers. Instead, when they work within a culture of collaboration, the process of allowing and enabling the unique suite of strengths to flourish is essential. My own team knows so much more than me, it would be foolish not to watch, listen and play to their strengths.

Great leaders also need to be great followers, this is what makes great collaboration. Group processes

Understanding team development and the role the leader plays is essential. Collaboration occurs when a group of people becomes a functioning team.

In 1965 Psychologist Bruce Tuckman first came up with the terms “forming, storming, norming, and performing” in his paper Developmental Sequence in Small Groups 

Forming: A group of people join to work together in a common cause, but they don’t necessarily know each other. There may be politeness, uncertainty, passion and excitement as the group forms. Some may hesitate, others bluster in. At this stage, it’s the leader’s role to galvanise the group and cast the vision.

Storming: The boundaries begin to be set. People start to rub against each other as working styles differ and processes are challenged. This is when it is important for each group member to find their place, learning to work with each other, rather than against. Storming is hard, but the time taken is worth the effort. The leader needs to allow this process to work through, always keeping the vision in full view.

Norming: Instead of strengths and differences being seen as a point of conflict, the team now appreciates the strengths that each person brings to the project. The leader’s role is to be the rudder, ensuring the group moves with the favourable winds, not against them

Performing: The rubber hits the road and team members take responsibility for their roles and the corporate outputs of the team. The reason ‘why’ is realised. The leader can focus on being the cheerleader and building the capacity of individual team members.

Others have added a fifth step to recognise that teams come to an end, adding ‘Adjourning’ as an opportunity to recognise and celebrate achievements.

Followership matters… for all

This is a significant shift from the command-and-control approach to leadership, where the leader directs. It is releasing, in the sense that the leader releases their grip on the project, gets them to the point of ‘performing’ and then release the team to work in ways they excel. It requires trust and submission on the part of the leader.

Barbara Kellerman in her book, The End of Leadership, questions the focus of leadership development over the past few decades. She asks,

Isn’t teaching good followership as important now as teaching good leadership?

When we consider the role of the leader in the Forming-Storming-Norming-Performing process it can be argued that the leader models the role of the good follower, by allowing the team members to flourish – individually and corporately.

Followers matter… They have always mattered, and they matter more now than before… Just as we encourage learning to lead, we should encourage learning how to follow—how to engage, how to collaborate and compromise, how to serve and support good leaders, how to challenge and even take on bad leaders.

A follower is a person who is interested in the progress or development of something. Just because we are leaders it doesn’t mean we can’t simultaneously be a follower as well. Developing skills of ‘followership’ is a highly effective way to model to your team the preferred types of behaviours and values, establishing and reinforcing the culture.

@anneknock

 

 

 

What’s in the ‘secret sauce’ of an innovative school? The SCIL story

The ZoneNorthern Beaches Christian School (NBCS), on the suburban fringe of Sydney has gained a reputation for innovation. There are many components that make this so, including, engaging learning programs, the physical spaces and places around the school, passionate and engaged students, and motivated and inspiring teachers.

For the many hundreds of educational visitors who come to the school each year these things are clearly evident. They visit NBCS hoping to learn from their experience, keen to implement ideas into their own teaching practice in their own school.

TofflerYet, what they are experiencing on any given day is the result of years of dedication to the vision to reinvent ‘school’ accompanied by a dogged determination to grow the capacity of educators with, as Toffler described the it, the ability to “learn, unlearn and relearn”.

In 2005 the principal at NBCS, Stephen Harris, began to think deeply about the impact of technology on the future of school and learning. The journey of innovation started in a couple of key ways. Firstly, he put the building blocks in place to enable online learning, and secondly,  established Sydney Centre for Innovation in Learning (SCIL), a ‘place’ where teacher innovation and professional learning could have expression. Each of these weren’t just good ideas, but seen as essential parts of the vision of education for the future.

As the vision and culture of NBCS was embedded and the learning spaces transformed, the school started to attract attention from across Australia and around the world. It started with educators who wanted a tour of the school, then the SCIL team shaped the innovation as professional learning packages for other educators. From 2010, SCIL began to broaden its reach, PD programs for teachers and school leaders, international study tours and executive consultations began to be developed.

Innovative teachers often feel the constraints of those who fear change, they may have great ideas but are regularly told, “No, we don’t do that here.” or “No, the government won’t let us”. The original iteration of SCIL provided a place for innovative educators at NBCS to bypass potential discouraging responses and play with their great ideas.

Professional learning can even be fun!The culture at NBCS gives permission for innovation to flourish. This is accompanied by professional learning that empowers teachers to embrace change. It is one thing to cast a big vision, and another to maintain it. On a weekly basis, all staff at NBCS participate in PD, with content and delivery sourced from the wealth of internal capacity. An important part of growing a great staff is their ability to share with and to equip colleagues. The beginning of each new school year time is set aside for whole staff PD – to cast vision and set priorities for the year.

This experience has had the added benefit of enabling the teachers to lift professionally. When visiting groups spend time talking to teachers, it is fascinating to hear them articulate and re-articulate their approaches to learning, how they use the spaces and engage with students. It is second nature for the teachers to use the language of innovation, as they are surrounded by it on a daily basis.

The secret sauce? When educators come to NBCS they often make the comment, “I thought I was coming to see buildings, and now I know it is so much more.

Quote

That “much more” is the seemingly intangible element, how the vision for an innovative school is continually cast by the principal and then lived and breathed across the school. Essential to this, however, is continual professional development that is focussed on current and future learning needs of the educators, addressing the identified priorities. The educators at NBCS have the responsibility to equip a generation of young people who are independent, engaged and passionate about making a difference to their world.

A responsibility they do not take lightly.

@anneknock

What does it really mean to have a culture of leadership at your school? It’s just like yoghurt.

Culture is the result of the fermentation process that gives yoghurt its unique texture and flavour. We can’t actually identify this elusive element called ‘culture’, it is just  there, otherwise it wouldn’t be yoghurt. The added fruit or flavourings may enhance, but they aren’t what make it yoghurt.

In the same way, a culture of leadership is something that runs through a school or organisation. It is evident in its “texture and flavour”. Leadership can be added like the  fruit, but it is more effective when it forms part of the whole product.

Blanchard quoteIn the last decade the nature of leadership has shifted to being the intrinsic ‘influence’ of potentially all, rather than an elite program for a few. As one of my favourite writers on leadership, Ken Blanchard once said, “The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.” This idea paints a picture of relationship, inspiration, collaboration and empowering. It is a far cry from the notion of “the boss”.

Growing up on a diet of American sitcoms and drama, I learnt from TV what it was to be a ‘boss’. They didn’t talk about leadership back then. The boss was male, old, grouchy, shouted, told people what to do, had a big corner office a female secretary and a view. Back in those days there were just workers and bosses, there weren’t teams, people just did what they were told.

The world was different then, ‘culture’ meant you went to the opera and ‘collaboration’ was just another word for cheating. Fear, blame, command and control drove the “boss” culture and power was vested in the few.

In the 21stC leadership can be everywhere. Leaders are in the mix and making things happen. They create the texture and flavour for change to occur. Rather than identifying a few, the opportunity to lead is available to the many, if not all.

Instead of command-and-control, what are the elements necessary for leadership today? In a survey of CEOs around the world by IBM asked about the key traits needed for success today and into the future, the top four were:

  • collaboration

  • communication

  • creativity

  • flexibility

Future Forecast, McCrindle 2014. Source: ABS

Future Forecast, McCrindle 2014. Source: ABS

These areas were identified as essential skills that CEOs actively sought in recruiting new staff. If we then recognise that our students, and our younger teachers will morph and change throughout their careers, how are we providing opportunities for them to develop these skills.

In the highly regulated school environment, with external pressures that often feel like command-and-control this can be a challenge. Nevertheless, we will not serve the rising generation unless we give them opportunities to acquire these essential skills.

We need to provide opportunities to grow leaders who are equipped for:

Purposeful collaboration: Working together as a team to achieve shared goals

Effective communication: Sharing information through whatever means necessary to inspire, encourage and effect change

Creativity in practice: Where a new and valuable idea is developed for aesthetics, for simplicity or to solve problems

Flexibility in execution: Allowing for a range of appropriate responses to a given situation

The way we design schools and then structure the learning activities directly impacts the effectiveness of a leadership culture, through:

  • Openness both in the physical space and to new ideas
  • Freedom of movement and expression
  • Teams collaborating on meaningful projects

It is important that leadership is in the mix with the culture of a school and is available to anybody. Through the opportunities that technology brings and the potential of global connectedness, young people have the ability to lead and influence like never before. Schools then, need to be the place where their leadership has the space to be nurtured and grown.

@anneknock

If… “Self-discipline predicted academic performance more robustly than IQ” …then what will you change in your school?

Aside

Have you heard these statements?

A parent may say “I like Mr X for my son’s teacher, he is a good disciplinarian.”

What about this advice to a new teacher: “Don’t smile for the first month, and you will be able to discipline them for the year.”

One of our greatest responsibilities as educators is to create an environment where self-discipline can flourish, and in so doing, provide life long benefits for our students.

What matters in building self confidence:

  • Students need to develop self-discipline as a life long habit
  • Willpower acts like a muscle that strengthens self-discipline
  • Stressful and discouraging situations drain willpower
  • Willpower is fuelled by warmth, kindness and appreciation

A disciplinarian-style teacher might have a quiet classroom, with well-behaved students, when they are contained within that environment, but it doesn’t help them in the long-term if they aren’t given the opportunity to become intrinsically motivated and drive their own learning:

Self-discipline predicted academic performance more robustly than IQ.
(Duckworth and Seligman - See notes”)

Martin Seligman and fellow researcher Angela Duckworth made this finding in their 2004 research in a longitudinal study of 140 eighth-grade students. The research discovered that under achievement was a failure to exercise self-discipline and that students who displayed greater self-discipline had fewer absences, spent more time on self-directed work and watched less TV.

The traditional models of education, that support passive learning and teacher as keeper of content may focus on extrinsically applied discipline within that particular context, but this isn’t the same as ‘self-discipline’. Willpower is the habit for success and the fuel for self-discipline.

Mark Muraven, Associate Professor of Psychology, University at Albany, NY State conducted research into willpower and came up with some interesting findings (see Notes for more information). He discovered that willpower can get used up like fuel and that treating people with warmth and consideration actually builds willpower stamina.

Muraven says in The Power of Habit: Why we do what we do in life and business (Duhigg, 2012).

When people are asked to do something that takes self-control, they think they are doing it for personal reasons – if they feel there is a choice or something they enjoy because it helps someone else – it’s much less taxing. If they feel they have no autonomy, if they are just following orders, their willpower muscles get tired much faster… when the students were treated like cogs, rather than people, it took a lot more willpower.

Many parents prefer a school or a particular teacher because of a reputation for keeping students in line, for attention to rules and regulation, and providing lots of homework. They will often say “they have good discipline” – but is it the right type of discipline. Self-discipline can look messy and it can be used as an excuse for accepting rowdy behaviour, but when used effectively it is a powerful tool that sets up our young people for success later in life.

@anneknock

References and Notes:

Duckworth and Selgman “Self-Discipline Outdoes IQ in Predicting Academic Performance of Adolescents” 2004 http://www.sas.upenn.edu/~duckwort/images/PsychologicalScienceDec2005.pdf

Muraven’s research, from The Power of Habit: Why we do what we do in life and business (Duhigg, 2012).

1. Cookies and Radishes: Two groups of students were asked only to eat the food assigned to them – cookies or radishes. You can imagine, the cookie eaters were in heaven and radish eaters in agony. After this they were each given a difficult puzzle to complete. The cookie-eaters with their unused reservoirs of willpower were relaxed, they persevered, tried different approaches to completing the puzzle. The radish-eaters, on the other hand, had their willpower thoroughly taxed. They became frustrated and started to complain about the puzzle

2. Just Cookies: Again, there were two groups of students, each with a plate of warm cookies in front of them this time, but the instructions were different. The first group were treated kindly, “We ask that you please don’t eat the cookies. Is that OK?” The researcher then explained the project goals and requested feedback on the experiment and thanked them for contributing their time.

The second group were treated more rudely, “You must not eat the cookies. We’ll start now.” They weren’t given an explanation of the goals, appreciated nor was there any interest in feedback on the experiment.

Each group had to ignore the cookies for 5 minutes after the researcher left the room. Non one gave into temptation. Then the participants were given a computer task. The first group did well on computer task. They were able to maintain focus for the 12 minutes, they had willpower to spare. However, the second group were tired and less-focused. Their willpower muscle had been fatigued by the instructions.

Schools should do more to teach children and young people about [insert hot topic here]…

This morning in our major Sydney daily newspaper, an op-ed piece Another brick in the wall of Gen Y culture decline states,

Schools need to do more about bringing a little elitism back into the awareness of culture. High culture: fine art, opera, serious drama and music that requires patience and understanding needs to be embedded into the curriculum

Whenever I read the line Schools need to do more… I recall the number of times I have read this in the past, but it leads me to ask:

What responsibility falls to families and the broader community?
Should schools be the portal for all civic and cultural education?

After all it takes a village to raise a child.

I can remember similar claims after a crisis or event that the school curriculum should include:

  • pet care and responsibility

  • drug and alcohol use

  • hygiene matters

  • playground equipment safety

  • road safety

  • cyber safety

  • stranger danger

  • ???

Insert any other community or cultural issue that apparently can be disseminated when all our nation’s young people are compulsorily and conveniently lumped together, as a collective empty vessel waiting to be filled.

Is this a simplistic approach to a greater problem?

What is the purpose of school education and the curriculum?

These topics listed are very important and are rightly included in the life of many responsible schools. However, I do wonder if we could adopt a more comprehensive community-wide approach to tackling them, other than crowding the curriculum even further.

This would enable our professional educators to spend more time on what they do best. If the school day/week/term/year only has a finite amount of time available needs to be something eliminated in order to accommodate each new hot topic into the curriculum.

How do we empower parents and build community?

How do we recreate the village?

Sadly the soulless shopping mall has become the quasi-village over the last few decades, without responsibility for the village-community, other than getting them there to buy more stuff.

In many places schools, faith and local communities are becoming the village hubs. Wouldn’t it be great if pre-emptive grants could be made available to educate parents and their children as a community about these broader community-related matters.

So the next time there is a hot-topic impacting our young people we will all take responsibility for finding solutions.

@anneknock

Internet of Things: 4 challenges for school leaders in 2014

We live in a world that is fact-paced and technology-driven, the Internet of Things is all around, gathering data, sensing trends and improving services, yet  school can still be like entering your grandmother’s living room. It’s comfortable and predictable, it hasn’t changed much in the last few decades. In 2014 Granny might even have an iPad because she likes to watch catch-up TV, play scrabble and email the grand kiddies.

The comfortable and predictable at school exists:

  • We can manage students in lots of about 30
  • We all have our designated place/desk to work at – student, teacher, principal
  • It’s simpler to just teach discrete subjects
  • The day starts at 9am-ish and finishes at 3.30pm-ish
  • The principal/headteacher knows everything and tells us what to do.
  • Our behaviour management system keeps the students in line
  • We upload websites and Youtube videos to the portal to control the content
  • We have a one-to-one laptop/iPad program
  • The IT team manage our technology

Just like granny’s living room, we know what to expect everyday, every week, every year, whether we like it or not.

Is 2014 your year for change?Internet_of_Things_Infographic
It is time to think differently about technology – we are in the era of the ‘Internet of Things’. Check out the Cisco Infographic.

  • The world is not 1:1 technology, in fact, during  2008 the number of things connected to the internet exceeded the number of people on earth.
  • Technology ‘things’ can mean a myriad of devices – not just laptops, tablets and smartphones
  • Data collection enables more effective use of time and resources
  • Sensors provide analytics and improve health and life outcomes
  • User activity is tracked for improved experiences

This video from IBM explains the Internet of Things

Link to video

Link to video

These ‘things’ collect data and connect meaning, providing the relevant information to improves services, connecting aspects of life, to make human activity more efficient and providing the basis of innovation. New insights and activity can be generated.

Most importantly, we need to know where we fit in. The IBM video explains the DIKW-Pyramid. Data, information and even some knowledge can be gathered by technology, we need people who can make sense of it, bring their wisdom, be ethical and innovate. Ultimately to find solutions to big problems and improve lives.

DIKW Pyramid IBM

Four Challenges

There are new skills and expertise required, to ensure that  students are well-prepared for the present and an unfolding future. So where does that take our learning focus? Some thoughts to ponder:

  1. Is technology viewed narrowly as a subject or a 1:1 device program? Otherwise the scope of the possibilities open to students is limited.
  2. Do your teachers only use devices as an input and output repository for content? The potential enables them to solve problems, be entrepreneurial.
  3. Will school administrators invest in a robust wifi network? Without it you are limiting the possibilities of learning, innovative ideas and expression
  4. Is your IT Team/Department  separated, rather than integrated in making the decisions about technology in your school? If separated they are more likely to confine the breadth of their own knowledge and expertise.

So as you think about the 2014 school year – it’s probably time to move out of granny’s living room and rethink what it means to provide a meaningful education for 2014 and beyond. Where  students are equipped with the skills, values and attributes that will help them make sense of their world and then prepare for the generation to follow them.

@anneknock

Resources: Cisco, IBM