One of my favorite things to do this time of year is reflect on recent goals and use the outcome to reset learning for the next several months. I do enjoy reading both books and online resources, often times connecting online with the experts I discover. So much of what I’ve learned by following my passions and curiosities online and offline has informed my practice as a school leader. In recent years, my colleague, Lynn Fuini-Hetten, and I have shared our learning more broadly on the TLTalkRadio podcast.
Over the next several months, my curiosity in several areas related to learning and leadership has led me to curate a collection of books and resources I plan to dig into.
I am very curious about how the exponential changes in our world could and should impact what we do in schools. Sadly, I have found that this is a topic that is simply not on the radar of most educational leaders, and I find it to be a blind spot to think more deeply about.
The Signals are Talking: Why Today’s Fringe is Tomorrow’s Mainstream – I read this book earlier this year, but my curiosity for shaping the future is drawing me back for a revisit. We need to stop simply talking about the changes and figure out how to harness them to shape education for the future. The book contains a framework for analyzing current trends and leveraging the outcomes to shape that future. How can futures thinking become the norm in the practice of educational leaders, especially as we work to reimagine education. Author Amy Webb, along with her Future Today Institute, publishes the annual Tech Trend Report which provides a detailed look at the trends shaping the future, even in education. The report is a great companion resource.
Open: How We’ll Work, Live and Learn in the Future – This book is from learning futurist, David Price. From pg. 26: “The problem stems from the ways in which we learn when we have a say in the matter. We’re becoming increasingly dissatisfied, and consequently disengaged, from the way we learn in the formal space, when measured against the open learning we do in the social space.” This speaks to the differences in learner agency when we learn in school and when we learn socially outside of school. This book will provide some rich thinking about applications of exponential changes in technology and learning in schools.
The Fourth Transformation: How Augmented Reality and Artificial Intelligence Change Everything – By Robert Scoble and Shel Israel, this book takes a look at the technologies that will be replacing the smart phone and impacting how we live and learn – AR and AI.
As Lynn and I continue our conversations with learner-centered leaders and learners on the Shift Your Paradigm podcast, the idea of design thinking has surfaced in many of the conversations. I’m curious to learn more about the process and how learners and leaders use it to reimagine education. I have quite a few books on my list related to design thinking, but here are the ones I’m starting with first.
Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation – By Tim Brown, this book is described as the definitive resource on design thinking.
The Art of Innovation: Lessons in Creativity from IDEO, America’s Leading Design Firm – Innovation is what we are focused on in education at the moment, driven by that context of the future: ensuring we are preparing our learners well. What can education learn from IDEO and apply as we develop our own journey of innovation?
Wired to Care: How Companies Prosper When They Create Widespread Empathy – Not only do our learners need to build empathy, our teachers and leaders do as well if we wish to design learner-centered environments. Innovation is successful when we design with an emphasis on the heart as much as the head. What can we learn from organizations expert at empathy?
With our focus on developing understanding and competencies associated with our Profile of a Graduate and Learning Beliefs, learner-centered environments are deep on our radar in Salisbury Township School District. What does learner-centered look like in practice? In addition to our work with the Shift Your Paradigm podcast and reading Education Reimagined’s Pioneering newsletter, Lynn and I are always looking for real-world examples to share with our stakeholders.
Leaving to Learn: How Out-of-School Learning Increases Student Engagement and Reduces Dropout Rates – Lynn and I recently interviewed Andrew Frishman and a couple of learners from Big Picture Learning for the Shift Your Paradigm podcast. This book documents the benefits of students leaving the school building to pursue learning opportunities in real-world settings.
Beyond Reform: Systemic Shift Toward Personalized Learning – Lynn and I also recently interviewed some leaders and learners from Lindsay Unified in CA. They have documented their system transformation journey in this new book.
Transformative Teachers: Teacher Leadership and Learning in a Connected World – Transformation is ultimately about changing learning and teaching practices in the classroom. This book profiles teacher leaders, featuring three case studies of organizations supporting teachers – Edcamps, the Philadelphia Education Fund and Connected Learning Alliance.
Our focus in the area of learner-centered leadership will continue to be on regularly released episodes of the Shift Your Paradigm podcast. Augmenting that project, there are a few books on my radar that will supplement and possibly help frame the learning coming from the conversations with practitioners on the podcast.
Blending Leadership: Six Simple Beliefs for Leading Online and Off – Lynn and I are finding out that leading in a learner-centered culture requires different mindsets than traditional school-centered leadership. This book by Stephen Valentine and Reshan Richards suggests likewise. I am curious to see if there is overlap and if the six beliefs can inform the work we are doing.
Leadership: Key Competencies for Whole-System Change – By Michael Fullan and Lyle Kirtman, this book is also a re-read, like The Signals are Talking. How do the seven competencies align with what we are learning about learner-centered leadership on the Shift Your Paradigm podcast?
Ask More: The Power of Questions to Open Doors, Uncover Solutions, and Spark Change – Taking an inquiry stance is a key characteristic of learner-centered leadership. We take an iterative approach to problem solving and change: design, implement, reflect, redesign, repeat… This book by Frank Sesno explores a wide variety of types of questions that can inform leadership practice.
I am excited to see how these categories of curiosity cut across one another – futures thinking, design thinking, learning and leadership. It’s not hard to imagine! I am looking forward to digging into these reads, unearthing relationships, rethinking my own understandings and sharing them out on this blog.
What is the focus of your curiosities? In what ways to you satisfy your curiosity?
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