Shifting the practice of education from polite cooperation to purposeful collaboration

Cooperation or collaboration?

img_8242-11.jpgIn lists of the various ‘Cs’ of the 21st century ‘collaboration always seems to make an appearance. In this past week I worked with a group of educators, looking at agile learning spaces, thinking about how we need to work to ensure engaged learning for students in these spaces. The necessity of real teacher collaboration was the consistent theme across the groups.

Do you think educators, teachers and leaders, are collaborating or cooperating?

They were still unable to truly achieve the desired outcome because they confused pleasant, cooperative behaviour with collaboration.” (HBR April 2015)

The difference collaborating and cooperating

Hord (1986) undertook a study of research on organisational collaboration and presented the difference:

  • Cooperation – People working together, separately and autonomously. There may be mutual agreement around the task, but the work does not progress beyond that.
  • Collaboration – A relational system within group, where individuals share aspirations for the outcomes. It operates in a model of joint planning and joint implementation.

Collaboration facilitates pooling resources and dividing labour, it alleviates isolation, sustains motivation and creates energy. However, it also feels time-consuming to collaborate and there is significant personal investment necessary to sustain it.

Teacher collaboration and student learning

In many schools teachers make efforts to cooperate, but it is much less common to find teachers actually collaborating. In daily practice, teachers… often use the word ‘collaboration’, while what they do… is actually cooperation.
(Meirink et al, 2010 p.164)

The so-called ‘new pedagogies’ of the 21st century require a student-oriented approach, which means educators give up old routines and shift prevailing beliefs, as openness and transparency become essential elements of practice. Collaboration is critical to this. The effectiveness of collaboration can be observed in the way individuals interact within teams.

Collaboration and learning are closely related. Effective collaborative teams show a high level of interdependency and autonomy, and are characterised by group cohesion, the glue that holds the team together. Alignment around the vision is important for effective collaborative teams, where goals are shared and a strong team approach is evident.

Moving from Cooperation to Collaboration

Level 1: Show and tell – low level collegial activity, hearing about each other’s’ practice

Level 2: Let me help – Critically looking at another’s teaching practice

Level 3: Share and share alike – Openly exchanging materials and ideas

Level 4: We’re in this together – Collective responsibility for the work of teaching in the team

If teaching teams remain at the levels 1 and 2, they will stay ‘cooperative’. It takes deliberate effort and shared commitment to progress to true collaboration. (Adapted from Meirink et al)

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

  1. Don’t give up at the first (or second) attempt – collaborative relationships grow from successful previous experiences
  2. Make the outcomes clear – goals that are mutually held assist in growing collaboration
  3. Get some quick wins – achieving some short term goals as a team will encourage progress
  4. Challenge preconceptions about collaboration – our own personal experiences impact assumptions and decisions

(adapted from Hord 1986)

@anneknock

Refs

Ashkenas, R (2015), There’s a difference between cooperation and collaboration HBR (Blog), April 20, 2015

Meirink, Imants, Meijer & Verloop (2010) Teacher learning and collaboration in innovative teams, Cambridge Journal of Education, 40:2, 161-181

Hord (1986) A Synthesis of Research on Organisational Collaboration, Educational Leadership, Feb 1986

Growing a professional learning community in your school: ONE thing that you need first.

Effective and lasting change in schools, or any organisation for that matter, is a result of a strategic process, designed to meet the needs of the school, rather than ‘sending a couple of teachers off to a workshop’. When I first started at SCIL we decided to run workshops on a variety of educational topics, such as ‘Learning Matrix ’ or ‘Web 2.0 Tools for the Classroom’. These were often presented to a disparate group of educators sent along to learn some skills for their own classroom and tick a few accreditation boxes along the way. Something started to feel not quite right with this ‘lone ranger’ methodology.

We instinctively knew that for effective pedagogical change, we needed to encourage teams to come, to participate in a facilitated process. This was a catalyst for Design/Engage. We believed that effective professional learning, leading to change in mindset and practice, could really only happen through a learning community.

“The most promising strategy for sustained, substantive school improvement is the developing ability of school personnel to function as a professional learning community.” (DuFour & Eaker, 1998)img_8242.jpg

Professional: expertise, knowledge and experience in a particular field

Learning: ongoing and fed by curiosity

Community : characterised by mutual cooperation, emotional support and personal growth, working together toward shared goal

For effective professional learning in community, there is one key characteristic that needs to be in place,

“It is evident that among faculty members looking to improve their schools as professional learning communities, a commitment to trust is frequently regarded as an important pre-condition.” (Cranston, 2011,p. 61).  

What type of trust?

Bryk and Schneider (2002) described trust as the basis for developing social capital, and identify three types:

Organic Trust is based on the moral character and designated authority of leadership and is given unconditionally. This kind of trust has often been seen in faith-based environments, clergy and lay-leaders, had almost unquestioned trust. Yet, this basis has been somewhat eroded today, as we frequently see tragic cases of abuse of such trust. 

Contractual Trust is transactional. Basic actions and outcomes are agreed upon, in accordance with stated terms. In this era of high-stakes testing and parent expectations and government agendas, it is a fear that education could be translated to these terms.

Relational Trust, John Dewey observed that a good school is more like a [functional]  family than a factory (Bryk and Schneider, 2002). Relational trust forms the basis of the ‘family’ interactions. Despite personality differences and clashes, there is a bedrock of connection that enables relationships to be maintained. 

Relational trust is the foundation of the effective professional learning community, and essential for effective and lasting change.

On a personal note, I firmly believe that in the 21stC faith-based schools and communities need to be built on the notion of ‘relational trust’. One that is evident in a leader’s ongoing trustworthiness, rather than on the basis of moral authority alone.

@anneknock

Refs
Bryk & Schneider (2002) Trust in Schools: A core resource for improvement
Ch2: Relational Trust
DuFour & Eaker (1998) Professional learning communities at work: Best practices for enhancing student achievement: Best practice for enhancing student achievement

It’s time to rethink pre-service and early career teachers… We want them to stay!

In the second week of the new school year in Australia the Grattan Institute, an independent think tank, released the report Engaging Students – Creating classrooms that improve learning. It is important to consider the holistic environment that promotes learning and engagement in students. Student behaviour and the choices that they make are critical to the overall success of the students’ experiences at school.

“Any parent knows that the best intentions can disappear under pressure – yet we expect teachers to get it right every day” (p.8)

This report seeks to affirm teachers in their role, recognising the difficulties faced in the classroom and makes recommendations at the school level and government/system level.

Much of my reading and thinking is around the physical environment and engaging learning for students, but the management of behaviour is a dynamic that can’t be ignored. It is another one of those under-the-surface-of-the-iceberg elements. Innovative learning environments, passionate teachers and creative content is insufficient unless the cultural and social norms of the learning community are known and shared.

The Grattan Institute report outlines some startling statistics about the impact of disengagement on learning. The disengaged students at the heart of the report are not those displaying overtly aggressive behaviour, but are disruptive and passively disengaged. It states that unproductive students are, on average, two years behind peers in literacy and numeracy, while passively disengaged students do just as poorly as disruptive students.

Attitudes and mindsets of teachers are addressed, stating that stressed teachers can get caught in a damaging cycle when student behaviour escalates. Many of us recall teachers decades ago who would yell, humiliate students, they would use sarcasm and even punish the entire class. This type of teacher behaviour benefits no one. I do hope that teachers like this are no longer in the profession.

The experience of the pre-service teacher that is really under the microscope here. In an era when too many young teachers are leaving the profession in the first five years, they identify the ‘number one’ professional development need is managing student behaviour. It seems we are failing them in their initial teacher education and then the quality of induction and mentoring once they commence in the profession.

 While managing student behaviour as a new teacher is one of the greatest stressors, it appears that the time spent on this during initial teacher education is minimal. Quality in-school practicums are essential, learning from exemplar teachers on how they establish routines and parameters in their classes.

What if we took this one step further, that exemplar schools became places for initial teacher education, as it occurs in the UK. Schools could work in partnership with universities, providing a more effective progression from theory to practice. With each innovation and technological shift in the 21st century, the world of students change. Schools are better placed as the incubators for young teachers, providing real-time understanding of the emerging generation at school. Then, once they commence as a fully-fledged teacher, ensure a mentor/support program is in place. 

No ‘sink or swim’ attitudes welcome here.

@anneknock

A Leadership Strategy: Ask not what your people can do for you (rather, the other way around)

My part in the research project ILETC is looking at the role of the teacher, adapting and changing mind frames and practices to take the opportunities that the innovative learning environment affords. This cannot happen in a vacuum, it is effective and lasting when change is the result of leadership, clear vision and the collective pursuit toward a shared future.

just-add-techI noticed this picture on twitter recently. We just can’t add technology, or add new furniture and hope for the best. If we believe in enduring change for the good of society, then the iceberg metaphor applies. It’s all the hard work that happens beneath the surface that makes change go the distance. We are in an era of unprecedented change in education, one in which disruption is necessary in education, for a generation unlike those who have gone before. In their report for A Rich Seam, Fullan and Langworthy (2014) outline ‘new pedagogies’:

The ‘new pedagogies’ are not just instructional strategies.They are powerful models of teaching and learning, enabled and accelerated by increasingly pervasive digital tools and resources, taking hold within learning environments that measure and support deep learning at all levels of the education system.”

They explain that a new process of change is required, called “inherent change”, an almost organic process, “built around humankind’s need to… be doing something intrinsically good and… to do it socially”.

This ‘new change leadership’, necessary for these new pedagogies to take hold is not considered to be either top-down or bottom-up, it needs to be,“both and, it is also sideways. Ideas and energy flow vertically and laterally…. The role of leaders is to simultaneously help the organisation ‘let go’ and ‘rein in’”.

The Essential Leadership Model, outlined by by Knuth & Banks (2006) is based on Maslow’s Hierachy. It considers what the teachers need from the leader and outlines “a set of knowledge, skills and dispositions required for meeting those needs”. During the leader’s ascension, toward the apex there are key checkpoints, questions that leaders need to ask themselves for the vision realised. This is my simplified version of Knuth & Banks strategy:

First Level: Your actions match your words
Leaders model core values and principles. You are able to inspire trust and articulate vision. Principle-centred leaders inspire trust by displaying consistency between core values, words and actions.

Leader Checkpoint 3: Is your internal compass in or out of alignment?
If your words and actions don’t match there’s no need to go any further.

Second Level: My physical and material needs matter to you
The work environment is clean and attractive. Sound, air-quality and safety needs are considered. Teachers have the resources they need to do their job well.

Third level: I am appreciated for my contribution
Leaders actively foster a sense of belonging. Encouragement and recognition is personalised. They put a human face on policies and systems.

Checkpoint 2: Is it your priority to ensure the basic needs of your people are met?
Without valuing people, clear systems, policies and training for staff, a leader’s energy is consumed by chaos or disorganisation and probably interpersonal conflict.

Fourth level: We’re on a journey together
As a community we own the vision, good systems are in place and we are able to direct our collective energies to our core mission.

Checkpoint 1: Do you feel like settling?
It’s all humming along nicely now, let’s just enjoy this. The fourth level is considered the ‘false apex’.

The Apex: Higher order change
This is rarely linear, rational or comfortable. It is disruptive, chaotic and tested by ambiguity. Leaders here demonstrate adaptive leadership skills. This is where the disruption happens. Remember: it isn’t actually an end point.

 

slide1

@anneknock

Refs:
Fullan & Langworthy (2014) – A Rich Seam: How new pedagogies find deep learning
(Ch 6 The New change leadership)
Knuth & Banks (2006) The Essential Leadership Model,  NASSP Bulletin, 1 March 2006, 4-18

We just want a [insert big idea here]. The three As of culture change

It seems that a lazy long weekend gives enough time to chase down a rabbit hole or two. Each day I receive an update from Medium, a community of readers and writers offering unique perspectives on ideas large and small. Of course, as with most of these things, we sign up with good intentions, but there is often little time to follow through.

This morning, I had the time and stumbled across a series of letters between two education leaders, Dominic A.A.Randolph is the Head of Riverdale Country School, a PreK-12 independent school in New York City  and Max Ventilla is the CEO and founder of AltSchool.  

What is school.png

Medium published an insightful interchange between Dominic and Max from December 2015 discussed:

What is school? (from Dominic)          Why is school? (Max’s reply)

How we learn best (back to Dominic)     How should school change? (from Max)

Reimagining school (summing up from Dominic)

In the final letter Dominic outlined four themes: (1) the changing UX of schools, (2) zen learning, (3) students are more than two numbers and…

(4) developing a science of school culture: People talk about the effect of a leader on a school environment or the way a particular class is difficult, but where is the science of the culture of schools?

IMG_2052

from: management30.com

Culture. It’s the thing that makes or breaks any organisation, any school. Drucker is famously attributed with saying “culture eats strategy for breakfast”, when in reality, “culture eats everything for breakfast”.

 

 

Your school may have outstanding practitioners, out-of-this-world technology, a comprehensive five-year strategy, but unless the culture changes is carefully strategised and comprehensively led, humans will default to the known and to the comfortable. As Dominic says in the final letter:

I think we agree that we need to focus less on the scores and on the individual within the school environment and more on the culture of schools and how we can all play a part in making the culture of schools more dynamic, more engaging, and just a better place to learn.

To change the culture we need to look at its composition. Earlier this week I came across a paper by Haworth, How to create a successful organisational culture: Build it – Literally. The culture of our school or organisation is seen in its:

Values: What we do, our mission and what’s important to us

Assumptions: Our attitudes, often unconscious, formed through our processes and actions and inform what our people think

Artifacts: The tangible examples of what represents us – uniform/dress code, location, architecture, technologies

Our big idea might be: “We just want a better place to learn” or “An engaged community”

Start with the three As of culture change:

  1. Articulate and embody your values
    • What really matters in reaching your big idea?
    • Is everyone on-board?
  2. Address assumptions and attitudes that are not in line with your values
    • Professional learning strategy
    • Modelling and reinforcing desired behaviour
    • Policies and processes that support the big idea
    • Filtering policies and processes through the agreed values
  3. Audit your artifacts:
    • Does the built environment support the big idea?
    • Is there a reliance on textbooks?
    • Furniture, and its arrangement, matters

If these are the ‘what’ to facilitate culture change, then we also need to look at the ‘how’. That’s a new rabbit-hole I’ve been exploring: Competing Values Framework.

Stay tuned.

@anneknock

Happy teachers matter: Seven things school leaders can do to create the optimal culture

happy faceWhat are some of the things that make us happy in our work?

  • A sense of a job well done
  • Confidence in our abilities
  • Great people to work with
  • Feeling valued for our efforts
  • Being heard and understood

OECD ReportIn March 2015 the OECD released a report from the International Summit on the Teaching Profession: Schools for 21st Century Learners (2015) by Andreas Schleicher. It identified some good news, and some not-so-good news:

The good news: The most successful education systems are those in countries whose society values the teaching profession.

The not-so-good news: Fewer than one in three teachers believe that teaching is a valued profession in society.

“…their belief in their ability to teach, engage students and manage the classroom – has an impact on student achievement as well as teachers’ own practices enthusiasm and job satisfaction and behaviour in the classroom.”

What can school leader do to enhance teachers’ self-efficacy and job satisfaction?

Balloons

1. Distributed leadership, provides opportunities to participate in decision making at school.

2. Positive interpersonal relationships between teachers and their colleagues and teachers and their students

Good relations between teachers and their colleagues and between teachers and their students can mitigate the negative effects of challenging classrooms…”

3. Meaningful appraisal and feedback that recognises and celebrates teachers’ strengths while simultaneously challenging teachers to address weaknesses in their pedagogical practices.

4. Provide a culture of collaboration among teachers through:

    • jointly teaching the same class
    • observing and providing feedback on other teachers
    • engaging in different classes and age groups
    • professional learning

“The strongest association with teachers’ job satisfaction appears to be participating in collaborative professional learning activities five times a year or more.”

5. Applying a variety of teaching practices, from instructional to constructivist practices.

“The latter [constructivist practices] forms of teaching and learning help to develop students’ skills to manage complex situations and to learn both independently and continuously. It has also been argued that these practices enhance students’ motivation and achievement.”

6. Quality professional development. A focus on the three components of self-efficacy – classroom management, instruction and student engagement  – strengthen their confidence.

7. Capacity to positively handle misbehaving students.

Teachers who spend more time keeping order in the classroom reported lower levels of self efficacy and job satisfaction

This report reinforces what many of us know and believe. When teachers are confident in their abilities, working positively and productively with our peers (and students) and equipped for the job, we build a place where our people want to come to work everyday… because we’re happy!

@anneknock

How do you lead innovation in schools? Step 1: Unlearn some old stuff & Step 2: Learn some new stuff

School leaders – here’s a quick quiz

  • Are you prepared for disruption, mess and opposing viewpoints?
  • Do you think you can successfully challenge the status quo?
  • Can you throw out conventional approaches to leadership?
  • Will you stick to it for the long haul?

Yes? Then read on.

FullSizeRender (1)Making It Mobile is the SCIL signature workshop for educators coming up in a few weeks, held at our school in Sydney. In the practitioner strand the focus is on “teachers as designers”. Alongside this, I am facilitating a parallel workshop for leaders, but I am troubled. What if these amazing passionate teachers are inspired and are keen to innovate in their schools, only to return to the same-old leadership, where innovation needs to fit in a pre-defined box? These teachers will become discouraged and disillusioned. A new leadership paradigm is essential.

On my drive to work this morning I listened to the TEDx talk by Linda Hill: How to manage for collective creativity (Sept 2014). Linda is the professor of business administration at the Harvard Business School. She opened her talk:

FullSizeRenderI have a confession to make. I’m a business professor whose ambition has been to help people to lead. But recently, I’ve discovered that what many of us think of as great leadership does not work when it comes to leading innovation….
If we want to build organisations [schools] that can innovate time and again, we must unlearn our conventional notions of leadership.

These “conventional notions of leadership” are spelt out in the plethora of leadership literature on our actual or virtual bookshelves published over many decades. They tell us that leadership starts with a vision, it rises and falls on the leader to execute strategy and, as many leaders can testify, it is a lonely and stressful business. The prevailing culture is that “the people” look to “the leader” to tell them what to do.

There seems to be two long held beliefs that need to be challenged:

  1. The absolute leader – knows all and tells all
  2. The lowly minion – has no ideas and does what they are told by the absolute leader

Companies like Pixar and Google understand that successful innovation is not about the solo genius, in the same way leading an innovative school or organisation requires a complementary team-based approach. The innovative school needs an innovative leader who creates the environment where:

  • collaboration is the culture
  • problems are opportunities
  • team is the prevailing structure
  • the talents and passions of ‘the many’ can be unleashed
  • diversity and conflict co-exist
  • there is a village or a community

The journey of innovation has an unknown tomorrow, but it starts today with complex and compelling problems that need an answer. To navigate this future the first thing we must do is embark on that journey of unlearning.

The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who can not read or write, but those who can not unlearn, learn and relearn – Alvin Toffler

@anneknock

Making it Mobile – 2 day workshop
30 April – 1 May
Northern Beaches Christian School, Sydney Australia

Lasting leadership requires finding my authentic self… How did I start?

Leadership is like the metaphorical iceberg. What we actually see in a successful leader is only a fifth of what it really takes. The real work of being a leader occurs in the four fifths below the surface, internal work. Authenticity is essential for the long haul.

Palmer quoteIn the last few months I started running, from ‘never, ever’ to 4km. When I was a child I would win heats at athletics events, progress to finals and regionals, without any training. This small person was fairly active.

For the last year or so I have looked at runners, and thought, “I want to do that”. So I bought myself some new running shoes, had orthotics fitted and downloaded the Couch to 5k app. I got started. Three months later I’m still at it. I believed that there was a runner inside and I decided to find her.

I’ve been thinking about the idea of authenticity, being true to my real self. I had one of those ‘stumbled on’ recently moments when I found the book Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation, by Parker J Palmer. ‘Vocation’, Palmer explains is derived from the word ‘voice’, not an external distant call, but rather a voice deep within each of us.

…every journey, honestly undertaken, stands a chance of taking us toward the place where our deep gladness meets the world’s deep need.

I am idealistic enough to believe that for each of us, our work can be a place of deep gladness and that there is a unique need that we can meet. Palmer encourages readers to think about themselves as a child. He writes:

Watching my granddaughter from her earliest days… I was able to see something that eluded me as a twentysomething parent: my granddaughter arrived in the world as this kind of person rather than that, or that, or that… In those early days of my granddaughter’s life I began observing inclinations and proclivities that were planted in her at birth.

“this kind of person”

with balloonI started thinking about the experiences and passions that I had as a child those things that helped to shape who I am today and into the future?

As I thought about my childhood athleticism I remembered that each year at the annual Sunday School Picnic my only goal was to win my age race, as I seemed to do. Then I took this a step further, am I competitive? (yes) Is this a good thing? (I hope so)

(Note: I appreciate that for many, thinking deeply about childhood experiences can be painful, and for some, not necessarily recommended.)

“inclinations and proclivities”

I remembered another proclivity or two. I was that kid who was paraded from class to class with a ‘superpower’ in Grade 1, aged 6. I could pronounce really-really long words. The teacher would write “salutation” and other multi-syllabic words and the little blonde girl would read them all.

Throughout my school life I think my teachers either really liked me, or I drove them crazy. I was noisy, messy and talkative. And then I remembered the moment, I was in Grade 2, the thought occurred to me “I want to be a teacher”. Despite getting into trouble much of the time, this is what I wanted to do.

Word-focused

A teacher

Competitive.

Two out of three seem OK, but competitive. So I unpacked this one a little further. Success at competition required strategy and tactics. That works for me.

There is so much to say, I might unpack a few more ideas. Stay tuned.

@anneknock

Onboarding our new staff – Getting the 3Cs right: culture, conventions and connections #onboardNBCS

OnboardWhat happens when I step onboard a plane?

Well, I’m about to *start an adventure. I’m going someplace with a bunch of other people. *There is a team of helpful people on hand to get me where I need to go and help me along the way. I may (or may not) engage with my fellow passengers. I need to understand the conventions and protocols of being on the plane, for my own safety. I know that there is a captain in charge. Once I am onboard, I am both excited and I am literally an ‘insider’.

(*Indulge me with this metaphor)

We are about to start a new school year. That means there are new staff.

How do you ensure that new staff are ready for the year ahead? How do you get them onboard. The term “Induction” feels like something that is done to you, while onboarding is embarking on an adventure with a crew of people for the duration of the journey.

This article from Inc How to build an onboarding plan for a new hire was written a number of years ago. This term that has been used in business for quite a while. There is immense cost in the loss of staff and recruitment of new staff that can be minimised by a well thought through onboarding program.

It is as much about getting your new teacher or admin staff member ready for their role as it is about ensuring that you attract the right person to fill the role in the first place. There should hopefully be no surprises on either side.

Educators have little choice but to hit the ground running. Many sectors, have the luxury of easing in new staff, providing a week’s worth of induction. Teachers start with their students fairly quickly, they meet parents from the outset and need to be able to employ a suite of skills ranging from teaching the curriculum, managing student behaviour to knowing where the toilets are, whilst simultaneously learning the culture of the new work environment. It’s a big ask.

As a result the precious time that is available for preparing new staff needs to strategically address the propriety areas for Day 1, Week 1 and Term 1 and then implement an ongoing program to support the other learning that needs to happen, the things that are less critical at the start.

At NBCS in 2015 we have embraced the concept of onboarding our new staff. The purpose of the program is to:

  • help new staff to feel like an ‘insider’ as soon as possible
  • become intuitive about the culture and expectations
  • feed and maintain excitement about their new job at their new school
  • feel part of the team

There is much that a new employee needs to know. However, bombarding them with information on the first day isn’t the optimal scenario, just like the business of learning we need to unpack, prioritise and strategise, focusing on the learner. We also need to model culture at every opportunity.

At NBCS we have applied the design thinking process to the day, starting with the driving question for the new staff member: Where do I fit and how do I contribute?

The first stage of the process over two days, is an active learning program with the Senior Leadership Team. There is no other higher priority for the SLT than to serve and build relationship with the newest member of staff. The program will focus on 3Cs:

Culture: Begin to gain an understanding of “the way we do things around here”.

Conventions: Know the important information that will ensure their safety and the safety of the community

Connections: Build relationships with their team and leaders that will set them up for a win.

We will be using #onboardNBCS to share the fun. I’ll keep you posted!

@anneknock

Back in the game: My new rules for social media engagement #itsnotallaboutme

“No leader can afford to lead as they did in the Industrial Age. This is a new era with new rules. All around us, the entire world is flattening, democratising, and socialising.” (HBR)

I’ve been relatively quiet on social media over the last few months. Sometimes it’s good to reassess and rethink what we do and why we do it. We are told, “You need to get onto Twitter”. Why? There needs to be purpose.

  • Am I there just so my followers don’t forget me?
  • What popularity need am I trying to satisfy?
  • Do I think that I will be professionally dead if I don’t engage?
  • Is there a real purpose that is more than increasing my follower count?

I prefer to be purposeful. Make choices that make a difference.

I thought this article on the HBR blog was interesting: 7 attributes of CEO’s who get social media. As education leaders*, we can borrow ideas, be inspired and challenged by business articles. (*I consider anyone a leader who has and wants to influence for good, no matter what role or title they have)

Coine and Babbet identified the top seven traits observed over five years trend-watching and interviewing leaders. I’ve just reimagined them for educators, and non-profits.

1. An Insatiable Curiosity: Social leaders track the emerging trends. They also see what non-educators are saying that can both inspire and challenge thinking.

2. A DIY mindset: This personal curiosity sees the social leader find out for him or herself. Rather than listen through filters seek the raw information.

3. A bias for action: They live by a “ready, fire, aim” mentality and in the Social Age, this has never been more necessary. Engaging in debates and discussions in real time can add so much value.

4. Relentless givers: They constantly share what they know. Seeking to spread knowledge and learnings more broadly. Again, this has nothing to do with building social-media market share, but it is just the right thing to do.

5. Connect instead of promote: Social media self-promotion is a turn-off. It’s more important to build relationships and connection through genuine engagement on social media platforms.

6. My organisation’s #1 brand ambassador:  We are all building our personal brand through social media, but we can do it in such a way that is authentic and generous, which in turn will positively impact our organisation.

7. Lead with an OPEN mindset: “…short for Ordinary People, Extraordinary Network – means that no one person, even the highest-level leader, can have all the answers”. We develop collaborative relationships with people who are willing to help us discover the answers.

Here are some questions that I challenge myself about social media:

  1. Do I retweet (or blog) to highlight a new voice or idea,
    or is it to show how popular I am?
  2. Do I follow people who are not directly related to my field?
  3. Am I generous? Do I connect people and encourage others?
  4. How curious am I?
  5. Do I only follow those points of view that agree with my own?
  6. How has my social media experience grown and changed me (for the better)?
  7. Does my followers’ perception of me directly impact their perception of my school?
  8. How OPEN am I?

I’m back in the game. Hopefully living by my new rules. You’ll let me know otherwise, won’t you.

@anneknock