Last month, I facilitated a learning meeting with a middle school staff. We only had an hour to learn and work together so a protocol seemed fitting. As always, I expected to hear a bit of grumbling about the need for a protocol, but participants tend to get over that initial reaction once engaged in the process. However, this time was different. A handful of staff shared in feedback that they felt the use of protocols with adults was inappropriate. In their opinion, the use of protocols treat adults as though they are not professionals, unable to have a meaningful discussion without a process. read more
Meetings. We've all been in one, observed one or led one, and are familiar with the feeling or reaction, "Why are we here?"
As a facilitator, as with any form of communication, it's important to consider purpose and audience and to make that clear. By considering purpose and audience we can be more certain that the time used to bring people together is well spent. Knowing the "why" guides the meeting's facilitation. For participants knowing the "why" guides their thinking and participation in meetings. read more
Why does it seem like some teachers have a tough time making the most out of the time they are given to collaborate with others, while others use the time constructively to sharpen their craft and grow professionally? A recent policy paper from Learning Forward and the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future sheds some light on this question. read more
High on my summer reading list this year was John Hattie's Visible Learning for Teachers, his brilliant work on utilizing research-based best-practices—the elements that actually work in the classroom. In the book, Hattie spends significant time on talk—which makes sense, since teaching is so talk dependent—but what is interesting here is that Hattie makes the very important point that dialogue between teacher and students is a crucial component of teaching and learning - yet is seldom present in classroom exchanges. read more
Greg Satell, one of the go-to thinkers on organizational culture that we follow, has a recent post where he identifies the tension between leading for organizational efficiency and leading for a high-performing, high-trust work culture.
This is especially pertinent for educational institutions, who, as we're often reminded by historians of education, are heirs to the traditions of Scientific Management, Fredrick Winslow Taylor's turn-of-the-20th-Century theories of organizational efficiency. read more
It's a core principle: the systems and schools we work with have it in their best interests to be learning organizations that respond and adapt quickly to complex, unpredictable, and fast changing contexts.
A recent article in the Harvard Business Review by Francesca Gino and Bradley Staats, looks at organizational learning, and, perhaps more importantly, at what failure to learn looks like in organizations. read more
We've worked with Nate Gibbs-Bowling, Washington State Teacher of the Year, for a number of years now. His latest interview with the Tacoma News Tribune is full of great quotes that contain keen observations and ideas on education that make him one of the emerging important voices in American public education. read more
In a recent New York Times piece, David L. Kirp writes that our public schools do a "good job of getting students into college, but a poor job preparing them to succeed once they’re there. " The problem he says, is that public schools and institutions of higher learning do their work separately, in silos, and do not communicate on issues like providing the kind of rigor and habits of mind high school students need to succeed in higher education. read more
The human interactions in collaboration can be so nuanced, how do we increase the instances of great collaboration in the educational realm?
One thing we can do is look to other fields. read more
Coaching for instructional improvement is a strategy and resource that many schools and districts have put in place to support their adult learners. So what does it mean to “coach”? Skillful coaching incorporates many highly nuanced roles and ways to work - when to probe, clarify, tell, show, and share - and moving fluidly and flexibly between them. As I work alongside educators and continue to refine my own skills as a coach, I’ve learned I can be more effective by recognizing the nuances and using what I know strategically. read more