Entrepreneurs, Leaders, Managers

psychic prisonIn the educational leadership domain, we frequently hear the argument about being a leader, not just a manager. (Here is a nice breakdown, or just enter a search into Google.) This morning, I ran across this article that added “entrepreneurs” into the traditional leader/manager dichotomy: Understanding Three Archetypes: Entrepreneurs, Managers, Leaders.

One of our greatest challenges in education, I think, is a lack of vision from those in leadership positions. Visions for teaching and learning just don’t go far enough. In fact, since being introduced to Gareth Morgan’s Images of Organizations, I see education, in general, and public education, in particular, stuck in a “psychic prison.” I recall writing this a few years back:

Organizational learning researcher, Gareth Morgan, offers a lens through which school leaders might examine resistance to change – the metaphor of the psychic prison. In organizations, “people can actually become imprisoned in or confined by the images, ideas, thoughts, and actions to which these processes give rise” (Morgan, 2006, p. 207). Educational leaders, policymakers, teachers and students are, as suggested by Morgan, imprisoned by a centuries-old paradigm of how schooling is defined. The “game of school” is so engrained in the unconscious of our minds that stakeholders do not often think about breaking out of this thought prison. Ideas that call for the reinvention, not just reform, of schools are met with resistance because they challenge all stakeholders to break with the past and venture into new, seemingly unknown territory. The first step in shifting the paradigm of education is for leaders to break free of the psychic prison, reconceptualize what it means to be educated in the 21st century and influence others to think about education anew. The changes required rest on a strong foundation of educational leadership, rethought for a new era of education, and grounded in the literature supporting meaningful teaching and learning.

I like the idea of adding entrepreneurs to the leader/manager paradigm. Do we have enough entrepreneurs (or entrepreneurial thinking) in education? Some may be bothered by the word entrepreneur since it conjures up images of business and charter schools. But how do we bring entrepreneurial thinking into public education? Should it reside in the few or the many? At the top, or throughout the system? What barriers unique to public education stifle entrepreneurial thinking? Shouldn’t we be modeling this kind of thinking for our learners? What are some examples of entrepreneurial work in education, particularly public education, and how far removed from our current “psychic prison” are they really? Do they go far enough?

Some questions for inquiry prompted by the  rather short post, Understanding Three Archetypes: Entrepreneurs, Managers, Leaders.

Digital Citizenship – A Platform for Good

Screen Shot 2013-11-29 at 5.10.45 PMI found this great resource and wanted to share. We hear lots about how students (can) use the internet for unproductive (or just plain stupid) endeavors. Educators and parents need to be teaching children and modeling the qualities of good digital citizens, not blocking sites such as social media. A Platform for Good is a nice resource for parents and educators to use and engage in these important conversations with students. This post is cross-posted from SalisburySD.US.

The success of our children in any educational endeavor is dependent upon the effective collaboration between parents and educators. In the age of the internet and high levels of connectivity and access to digital content, the collaborative development of digital citizenship in our children is more important than ever! Earlier this school year, Salisbury parents had the opportunity to learn strategies for at-home management of the laptop computers students in grades 6-12 use. Mrs. Lynn Fuini-Hetten and I met with a group of parents using the book 1 to 1 at Home  as a starting point for our conversation. (You can download the Study Guide online.)

Parents continue to inquire and seek guidance in the areas of digital citizenship, online safety, online privacy and digital footprint and want to know how they can best help their children develop in these areas. Recently, APlatformForGood.ORG published a series of Digital Citizenship Flashcards that are the perfect resource for parents to engage children in conversations about many areas of digital citizenship. Here’s how the site describes this new resource: “To help them make the grade, download these flashcards to help them boost their online know-how. From safety and privacy to literacy and online responsibility, these cards cover digital citizenship basics and have conversation  starters to get you and your child thinking and talking.”

If you download the flashcards and use them as a resource, let us know what you think in the comment section below!

By Randy Ziegenfuss Posted in Learning

5 minutes that got me thinking…

opinionWatch this teenager school educators on the dangers of Common Core… (not embeddable on WordPress.)

I’ve seen this video shared numerous times over the past few days on social media, so I thought I’d watch it. Interesting it is. Nice to see a students with the willingness (and ability) to communicate his feelings on one aspect of the nonsense going on in education. After finishing the video, I had this thought:

Where are the educators, parents, board members – adults – taking a productive stand against the seemingly never-ending ridiculousness of education policy?

Educators do a lot of whining, but take little action when it comes to policy such as Common Core, teacher evaluation, principal evaluation, NCLB, School Performance Profile…and the nonsense goes on. It was refreshing to hear a student engage in (and try to engage others in) the conversation. Now, where are the educators? When will we stop rolling over to the nonsense created by policymakers and departments of education. Education is a big “industry” comprising no small percentage of the workforce. If educators could speak as one voice, we might make a difference. On the whole and as a profession educators are not know for taking action, just good at taking their marching orders from above. Just like the system we grew up in and are (for the most part) running now…end of rant.

Leveraging Social Media to Build Capital and Develop Relationships

This past week I attended the 2013 PASA/PSBA School Leadership Conference and had the fortunate opportunity to present a workshop along with two colleagues, Michael Roth (@mqroth) and Lynn Fuini-Heten (@lfuinihetten), on social media and how we are using it in Salisbury.

Participation in the session exceeded my expectations with an audience of 50+, primarily school board members. During the session we provided information in three areas:

  1. WHY schools should use social media.
  2. WHAT we are doing with social media in Salisbury to connect to our community and build a digital footprint.
  3. HOW school leaders and board members can get started with social media, including the good questions to ask.

The session was very-well received. Here are the resources we provided to the participants:

What did I learn from delivering our presentation? Over the past several weeks I have had many opportunities to engage with a variety of educators – teachers, administrators and board members. It’s been an eye-opening experience to hear and learn how “behind the times” so many schools are whether in the area of technology integration, professional development, or, in this case, the use of social media. My conclusions certainly are not scientific, but I’m getting the impression that too many schools aren’t even having the conversation about bringing education into the 21st century. That’s really hard to do when so many schools are unwilling to invest the financial and human capital in professional development. From what I’m hearing, too many schools leave professional development up to chance or up to the teachers to figure it out.

I’m wondering what the reason is for lack of progress or innovative practices in technology integration, professional development and social media use? Is it really because of the economic climate? Is it at all political? How much of a role does leadership play in embracing a progressive form of education – school board, central office, building level leadership? I am very interested to hear the perspectives of others. Regardless of the answers to these questions, one thing is certain, we have a lot of thinking to change if we want to get schools and districts out of the dark age!

Limited vision?

Human Networks

I located this quote/photo on George Couros’s blog, Principal of Change. Over the past few weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to engage with a variety of educators on the topic of teaching and learning with technology. The above quote from Clay Shirky reminded me of the limited view so many educators have of how technology can impact learning. Too many educators stop their thought process at the idea of using technology simply to access static information instead of emphasizing connection and access to active minds. Engaging active minds invites inquiry and deeper learning and understanding. I’d say this distinction is a fairly significant hurdle for school leaders and educators in general to get over before we really see transformational uses of technology.