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:
I was recently out to dinner at a Mexican restaurant with a friend, and I was asked if I was enjoying my dish (Mexican chicken mole, which was excellent, by the way). I quickly replied something to the effect of, “Yes! I would order it again.” In my mind, whether or not someone would order the same food again is the true litmus test in determining if the food is truly worthwhile. Now, while eating I was thinking about all that has been taking place in my school district, where I am an assistant principal. Then, somehow I managed to make a connection between “Would you order the same food again?” to “Would you want to be a teacher in your district?” The latter question is the litmus test for whether or not an administrator is happy in the district for which he works. (See the connection?)
This year I began work as an assistant principal across two primary schools. Along with starting to establish rapport with staff members, one of my first priorities was getting my two offices set up. I saw it as my duty to furnish my workspaces prior to the students’ first day of school, even though my time on the job officially began only about 1.5 weeks before this day. If all teachers were able to get their classrooms up and running, there was no reason why I could not do the same with my rooms.
When decorating my offices I decided to go with student friendly themes, a Pixar theme for one (inspired by Creativity, Inc.) and a superhero theme for another. What I now have serves as a starting point, and I plan to add to the décor throughout the year. Here are five reasons why a building administrator should have a student friendly office:
For the fourth and final installment of the BYOD series, we will take a look at a recommended one-year timeline for BYOD implementation from an administrative/district standpoint. But first, here is a quick rundown of what has already been discussed!
To provide some perspective, as mentioned prior, “This year, my district has begun the process of implementing BYOD in what is being called a pre-pilot, and my students and I were delighted when we got the call to be the first classroom in the entire district to have the honor.” The timeline below reflects the lessons that we have learned from the pre-pilot, and the district goal for next year is to involve teachers from grades 5 and up on a volunteer basis.