One of the areas of focus this year in the Salisbury Township School District was to more clearly define our vision and beliefs about learning. As the process of listening to stakeholders comes to a close and the hard work of developing action plans to bring that vision to reality begins with our school leaders and building leadership teams, I’ve been reflecting on the various components of our process.
One of the challenges and “blind spots” of school leadership is looking into the future, anticipating shifts in areas such as learning, the economy and technology, and then using newly-acquired information and ideas to inform the creation of a viable vision for learning. I love this quote about what leaders do from Illuminate, Nancy Durate’s and Patti Sanchez’s latest book, :
Leaders anticipate the future. They stand at the edge of the known world, patrolling the border between “now” and “next” to spot trends. They help others see the future, too, guiding people through the unexpected and inspiring them to long for a better reality.
Creativity researcher Keith Sawyer outlines a series of eight (not necessarily sequential) stages of creation that we applied to our visioning process. He calls the second stage LEARN. In his book, Zig-Zag: The Surprising Path to Greater Creativity, Sawyer shares:
When you master the discipline of learning, you find yourself naturally absorbing new information like a sponge. You learn everything about what has come before, what other people have tried, what has and hasn’t worked. You become an expert, yet you’re not limited by past ways of thinking. You’re always ready to move beyond what you already know, or what the world already believes. (pg. 53)
As we embarked on the creation of our vision and beliefs, we knew that learning about innovative ideas and thinking in the field of education (the uncommon dots) would be valuable. One of the most obvious ways to learn was to “read” – blogs, books and other media. Then my colleague, Lynn Fuini-Hetten, and I had an “aha” moment and asked a “what if…” question:
What if we reached out to these experts after reading their work and engaged them in a conversation that we then produced and shared as a podcast?
To our surprise, just about everyone we contacted was readily willing to share an hour of their time to connect and talk to us about their work and how it can inform our work and the work of other school leaders. Collectively, the 33 episodes on TLTalkRadio (and a few more to come in the remaining weeks of the school year), have been a transformational learning experience for us! Many in our organization, including Lynn and myself, have learned a great deal from these thought leaders, consequently informing our practice and the outcomes of our visioning process. (Look for a post later this month after we publicly share our work with our school board and community.)
We hope you have your own ways of connecting with thought leaders and might even tap into this bank of podcasts as you move your own creative journey forward!
- Personalized Learning with Barbara Bray
- Pure Genius with Don Wettrick
- A More Beautiful Question with Warren Berger
- The Surprising Path to Creativity with Keith Sawyer
- Gamify Your Classroom with Matt Farber
- Invent to Learn with Sylvia Martinez
- Passionate Learners with Pernille Ripp
- Assessment 3.0 with Mark Barnes
- Hacking Assessment with Starr Sackstein
- How to Come Up With Great Ideas with Ewan McIntosh
- Over-tested and Under-prepared with Bob Sornson
- Never Send A Human to Do A Machine’s Job with Yong Zhao
- Building School 2.0 with Chris Lehmann
- Less us, more them with Gary Stager
- Make Writing with Angela Stockman
- Assessing 21st Century Skills with Laura Greenstein
- National Education Technology Plan with Zac Chase
- Inquiry and Innovation in the Classroom with A.J. Juliani
- Flexible Learning Spaces with Ken Parliman
- Under New Management with David Burkus
- Most Likely to Succeed with Ted Dintersmith
- Teaching and Learning with Aaron Sams
- The Gift of Failure with Jessica Lahey
- The Test with Anya Kamenetz
- Education Reimagined with Kelly Young
- Innovation with Suzie Boss
- One-to-One at Home with Jason Brand
- Freedom to Learn with Will Richardson
- Scannable Tech with Monica Burns
- Using Design Thinking to Develop Mindsets with Sabba Quidwai
- Real world knowledge, skills and attitudes with Jordan Pedraza
- Competency-based Learning with Bob Crumley
- Scenario thinking and inside-out paradigm of change with Bryan Goodwin
What an incredible collection of thinking! Thanks to everyone who contributed to this work. Lynn and I look forward to seeing how our own journey of connecting with thought leaders develops into 2016-17 and how it impacts our thinking, our organization and our practice as school leaders. We hope that you find this work as inspiring as we do!
What thought leaders have you learned from this year? Who would you like to see added to the list above?
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