According to dictionary.com, dissonance can be defined as “lack of agreement or consistency.”
From my research, it is one of the hallmarks of any successful organization.
In Good to Great Jim Collins declares:
What is Consensus?
Consider the following continuum, and select the point at which you feel you have reached agreement on a proposal in your own school:
We have arrived at a consensus in our school when:
If you have not done so already, pause for a brief minute and think about where your definition of consensus falls on the continuum.
Part 1: The Problem
You are an administrator. You are sitting in an administrative meeting and someone mentions how a certain teacher has spoken out against the school or district on Facebook. One of the attendees happens to be friends with the teacher on the social media platform, so the meeting comes to a halt while said administrator pops open her computer, searches for the post, connects her computer to the projector, and displays the defamation for everyone to see.
Is the principal great because of or in spite of you and the district’s culture?
You’re a district level administrator. There’s a great teacher in one of your schools.
Is the teacher great because of or in spite of you and the district’s culture?
You’re a building level administrator. There’s a great teacher in your school.
Is the teacher great because of or in spite of you and the school’s culture?
You’re a teacher, building level administrator, or district level administrator. You work with great students.
Are the students great because of or in spite of you and your classroom, school, or district's culture?
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Often times in education we look at certain practices as what we call “traditional.” Here are a few examples of such practices that can be taken by administrators:
In Part 1 of this post we took five quotes from the first half of Good to Great by Jim Collins and examined how they can relate to education. For this post, Part 2, we are doing the same with five quotes from the second half of the book.
If you have not yet read Good to Great by Jim Collins, put it at the top of your list. It’s one of those books that had been on my radar for quite some time, but I didn’t read it up until recently. This bestseller, which is one of the defining management books of this century, explores the common characteristics of “elite companies that made the leap to great results and sustained those results for at least fifteen years.” Although this is not technically an education book, as one of my colleagues Kyle Pearce (@MathletePearce) has said, “I always find huge connections from business to education. I read tons of business geared books and apply many of the strategies in my day-to-day.”
For Part 1 of this post, let’s take a look at five quotes from the first half of the book and examine how they can relate to education. For Part 2 we will do the same with five quotes from the second half of the book.
In Where Good Ideas Come From, Steven Johnson discusses the coffeehouse model of creativity and how “employees who primarily shared information with people in their own division had a harder time coming up with useful suggestions…when measured against employees who maintained active links to a more diverse group.” Johnson goes on to cite examples regarding how “many of history’s great innovators managed to build a cross-disciplinary coffeehouse environment within their own private work routines.”
Let’s take a look at how Johnson’s research can be applied to education by exploring five simple ways to diversify the types of people in any given committee or meeting:
Digital Leadership can serve as inspiration and an effective starting point for administrators and/or teachers who have realized that they need to (1) infuse their practice with more progressive techniques or (2) entirely revamp their work to support in providing students with more contemporary and relevant learning experiences. Also, if you find yourself working in a district where administrators simply do not “get it,” I would highly recommend Digital Leadership as an administrative book study in order to stimulate conversation in regards to how the district can make the shift from where it is to where it needs to be.
As a classroom teacher, it can sometimes feel as if district administrators belong to an exclusive club in which they are secretly made aware of all the organization’s inner workings while everyone else is left in the dark. Sometimes this exclusive club might meet for closed-door professional development sessions, and the specific details of what they learn usually turn out to be a bit fuzzy for those not present. Yes, attendees are supposed to pass along the information to their teachers, the ones who interact with students on a daily basis. However, sometimes the facts get awfully distorted as they make their way through multiple channels, eventually reaching the intended audience (if the audience is reached at all).
To help in avoiding this conundrum, session facilitators should embed into administrator professional development explicit procedures for the learning to reach teachers and ultimately affect students in the most positive ways possible. Here are five options that leaders can consider when paving this smooth path along which information can travel: