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Controlling the Solution

The Principal of Change George Couros - 20 May, 2018 - 23:46

In “Learner-Centred Innovation,” Katie Martin shares the following:

Just think how you might begin to make the changes and the impact you desire in school if instead of statements like, “If they would have, . . .” you started asking, “How might I…?” This is what is referred to by psychologists as the locus of control or the extent to which people believe they have power to influence events in their lives. A person with an internal locus of control believes that he or she can influence events and outcomes. These individuals might notice that students are not meeting the desired outcomes and decide to take some risks, try new strategies, or design an authentic project to meet the needs of learners. Someone with an external locus of control instead blames outside forces for everything.

I thought about this quote in a recent conversation I had with a few administrators. There were focused on some of the ideas being shared were things that would happen in larger organizations, not necessarily ones in divisions with smaller student populations.

If you want to find a problem, you can see a problem.  Solutions are findable as well.

Working with two school districts in the same day, one had shared that although there were “1 to 1” with devices for students, the teachers felt they needed more professional learning. The other had shared that they were ready to go, but that they didn’t have the devices.  Two opposite situations, both seen as issues.

Flip it around.

One organization could have seen that although they had devices for every student and more professional learning would be needed; this is an excellent opportunity to model learning alongside students and reshaping what the classroom could look like.  The other organization could have seen the opportunity to focus more on the learning of the staff before they provided devices so that they would feel ready to offer solutions to students from a place of experience in their learning.

Barriers and opportunities are around where you look at them, but the biggest barrier is often our own thinking. As Katie reminds us, we control a lot more than we give ourselves credit. We can be the problem but hopefully, the solution.

Categories: Planet

We All Need a Champion

The Principal of Change George Couros - 18 May, 2018 - 10:42

My dear friend, Jimmy Casas, wrote a fantastic book titled, “Culturize: Every Student. Every Day. Whatever It Takes.“, meant for leading schools, not school leadership only. I haven’t read the book for awhile, but it reminded me of the leadership classic, “Good To Great,” because it acknowledges the excellent work already happening in schools, but helps to push them to become even better. I have written about Jimmy before and saw his work in practice. One of my favorite things from Jimmy’s work is that you could tell no difference in the position or role of any person in his school because he treated every single person amazingly well and understood their impact on the school community, both staff, and students.

Here is one of my favorite quotes from the book:

“Being a champion for all students means just that: all students. Not just ones who are likeable and want help but also the ones who might resist your efforts. Even then, your core values drive you to stay true to this belief. This unwavering hope and faith can be the model to inspire others to do the same for all students.”
Jimmy Casas, Culturize: Every Student. Every Day. Whatever It Takes.

Although I love this quote, I was reminded how important that the notion of having a “champion” is essential to staff, along with students, when I tweeted out the following Rita Pierson quote from one of my favorite Ted Talks ever:

Although I believe having one champion is not enough in our schools, I do think having at least one can change everything.  Looking back at my career, I know that I had a few administrators that both pushed and supported me to grow, while always making sure they knew they had my back. I was able to do so much more because of their support, and it is one of the reasons that I am so passionate about the influence of leadership in education.  Having one leader that believes in you and challenges you, from any position or role, can help you achieve things you couldn’t do without that support.  It is crucial to believe in yourself, but it is way easier when you know someone else believes in you as well.

While we focus on being “champions” for our kids, remember that “championing” the adults in education IS serving the students. The impact on one educator can influence thousands (if not more) of students over a lifetime.

Categories: Planet

What do we mean when we talk about “access”?

The Principal of Change George Couros - 16 May, 2018 - 07:18

What do you think when you hear the word “access” when it comes to education and our students?

This was a question that I was recently asked at a panel at THE Ohio State University (I was told that I have to write THE before OSU and I am kind of scared not to now.).

At first, when you hear the term “access,” many people think about things like access to technology and the Internet.  Makes sense, and I agree. Kids who do not have access to the biggest library in the world will lose out on many opportunities that other kids do have.

But in my response, I wanted to challenge the term “access” to go beyond technology. What about access to high-quality learning opportunities in every classroom?

Put it this way. If you have access to the Internet in your school, but the quality of teaching and learning in your school is not excellent for all students, then how much does the technology matter?

I addressed the notion of equity in my book, “The Innovator’s Mindset,” and how it has to be not just equitable, but at the highest level:

Another concern often voiced in response to innovative initiatives is that the new program or approach might create superior learning opportunities—opportunities that aren’t offered in another learning environment. If what’s best for learners is our primary concern, equity of opportunities will be created at the highest of levels, not the lowest.

I am not saying that every teacher has to be the same. That is impossible. I am saying that access goes beyond technology and that every student should have access to high-quality learning opportunities.  When talking about students, the “access” conversation has to go far beyond technology.

Categories: Planet
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