Monday, June 28, 2010

Innovation and the Impossible - ISTE Day 1

"It always seems impossible until it's done..." Nelson Mandela
One of my favorite Mandela quotations is one of the series of banners about excellence throughout the Conference Center for ISTE 2010. The session I am attending now is called Innovative Leadership: 21st Century Innovations that Mater. Its main focus is how leaders set up environments to create the opportunity for innovation. The presenter is Cheryl Lemke, and for those of you who like to see all the information:
Cheryl started by talking about how students learn and noted that attending school is a small part of students' learning. Students also use peers and home as they always have. Relatively new are the networked public, work and distributed resources. Cheryl argues that we need to tap into their interests and use them in school in order to have the opportunity to have most powerful impact of students' learning. We'll only get 18.5% of their life time to help them learn so we want to set them up to keep learning in the post powerful way possible.

Cheryl's big focuses for Innovative Leaders:
  1. Own the innovation - don't delegate it to the right people, lead it. CEOs in top innovative countries don't delegate creative work, they do it themselves (The Innovator's DNA). Technology, social media, multimedia and eCommunication should inform every decision. They should be a factor via digital content, implementation, student voice, environmental scanning, expectations for teachers etc. The technology facilitator should be at all tables and be an advocate for the ways students learn best.
  2. Drive the change through creativity and knowledge - be creative, informed, tolerant and critical of digital technologies and our youth driving changes.  Our customer, our students, are digital natives. There are three basic was of thinking of learning: as acquisition, as participation, or as knowledge creation. As we focus on knowledge creation, we need to design our technology and our assessments to support creation. Knowledge creation doesn't happen in a vacuum - it uses teaming, Internet etc. We pull students out of this when we assess them and it doesn't make sense. Our structures are also set up to support acquisition not creation. Top innovators do some key things. They associate with things outside their sphere of influence and bring two different things together in new ways. The implications for the education is the need for more integration. Innovators ask questions all the time, and they asks the unaskable questions. Observing is another key trait of innovators. They watch the clients and users (students) and have student voice in what they do. We need much more student voice in education. Innovators are also experimenters. They believe failure is an essential part of success. We can do this with teachers around action research. Finally, they are networkers who bring people together and build effective groups. I think the role of Learning Leader is designed with this in mind - obviously a good thing that this is a main focus for us.
  3. Shift from Rules to Shared Principles - actively facilitate the development and adoption of guiding principles for 21st Century Learning. This one has big implication for how my division might approach things.
  4. Establishment of a Professional Learning System - includes observation, virtual and face to face work. Involves less student contact time, lesson study, and classroom observations. Doing there walk-throughs is very helpful for principals in particular, but for all leaders. We have been shifting our professional learning pretty dramatically in the last few years with these exact ideas in mind. We are still learning how to do this most effectively.
  5. Shape culture - the leaders establishes the culture of openness, collegiality, honesty, and adaptability, all focused on standards or goals. Leaders should look for positive deviants, who are those working outside the rules to make something work for students. This is a topic that is really on the radar of the Collegiate Renewal team.
  6. Ensure Digital Access and Infrastructure - including networks, devices, data systems, applications (web 1.0, 2.0, 3.0), instructional, business and technical support, policy). She noted that the system needs to be open enough to allow blogging, twitter etc. I think our filtering changes, use of online communities and use of web 2.0 tools are starting to make inroads here.
  7. Data, Assessment, trends and accountability- it needs to be focused on student engagement, not just metrics on competence. This whole section was closely correlated to our work, complete with diagrams of flow, like the one in the Collegiate Renewal data from this year. I think we need to keep working on a systematic approach to evidence collection, and I know that is a major focus of learning for next year in administrative professional learning.
Many of the principles Cheryl talked about next are those of Collegiate Renewal. We spent time talking about the value to motivation for staff and students and how to create engagement. One thing she highlighted was the shift to lesson study as a form of professional learning for teachers in schools where students are the most successful. Some interesting achievement statistics related to teaching:
  • Teacher effectiveness has the number one effect on student learning, and professional learning must be sustained over time, content based, focused on concrete tasks, in community etc.
  • 3 effective teachers in a row = +50 percentile
  • Single ineffective teacher is detectable 4 years later
  • A minimum of 6 days focused professional learning is necessary to make a substantial change in student performance.
My favorite quotations from the session:
"We defined the school system to make it the way it is, and we are the people with the power to redefine it. It is us."
"Business and industry are asking us turn education on its head. Let's go after that and do it."
"Sometimes behavior comes first and belief comes second. You can create change with resistance if you are doing something people will be able to see the impact of. Progress is the biggest motivator."
"People tell me that older teachers are stuck in time, but they came into teaching because they wanted to move things forward for kids. We need to give them real permission to go after 21st Century Learning."
I enjoyed this session quite a bit and it has lots of implications for the Collegiate Renewal work. Some we are working hard on, like professional learning systems and assessment and accountability. Others need more attention as we move forwards. I am leaving with lots to think about and record a fraction of what Cheryl said. I always enjoy a session like that. I left the session refocused on continuing to push for innovation.

1 comment:

  1. sounds like a great session, perhaps a speaker for our IT Summit? look for my blogs on ADKAR change management principles. Of course, the implementation of any theory is the tricky part. Look forward to moving forward in Saskatoon!