Stop Pretending…..#MakeSchoolDifferent

Day 2

Thanks to Doug Peterson for the tag in his Stop Pretending…..#MakeSchoolDifferent post.  I’ve enjoyed the posts from others on the same topic. They are bloggers whom I respect and whose writing continues to challenge my thinking, so I’m honoured to include my list among theirs.

In order for us to make a difference, we have to stop pretending:

1) That the most innovative ideas are generated by those in the most influential positions.
This past summer I read Dan Pontefract’s Flat Army and it resonated with me on so many levels.  I wonder if sometimes we turn to Superintendents and Directors with the assumption that they will have the most innovative answers to a challenge, based on their years of experience and broader to connections to education?  When in reality, it may be those ECEs, Educational Assistants, Teachers and Administrators who are working in the “trenches” with the best view and therefore the best insight into innovative ways of making a difference.

2) That all administrators intuitively know how to be instructional leaders.
These days there is an expectation that our school administrators have a well defined skill set in the area of Instructional Leadership. There are many administrators who indeed know how to inspire, motivate and lead a school community on a learning journey.  But, we also have to admit that some of our colleagues are great relationship builders and financial managers, but they do not have that skill set and what are we, as a learning organization, prepared to do to support them?

3) That the answer is always in the room.
We love to throw that line out all the time and I believe that we can certainly learn a great deal from each other. But I’m wondering if at times, we need to ensure that we are bringing “others” into the conversation and looking to the research to support us?  If we want to make a difference, we need to be able to look for answers everywhere possible.

4) That saying “I’m a life long learner” is enough
We’ve all heard it and maybe even said it out loud ourselves, but do we make it visible?  How do we share that we are life long learners?  Do we really embrace learning something new, which means that we will never do things the same way again?  How different would life look in our schools, if everyone was a learner? Talk about making a difference!

5) That it’s acceptable to avoid integrating technology into our lives as educational leaders.
In order to make a difference, every level of the organization should be embracing, modeling and inspiring others to see the implementation of technology as a mandatory component of how we do business.  Our students deserve committed educators who are willing to learn!


To keep the meme going, I tag @jen_aston @DavidFifeVP @marshakelly @pluggedportable @annettcann

12 thoughts on “Stop Pretending…..#MakeSchoolDifferent

  1. I call it the “superstar” phenomenon of social media; when an author reaches out and demonstrates appreciation! I’m not sure how he even knew about my post!

  2. Powerful connections! In what past era could you happen to reference a book you read and love and have the author actually take the time to respond and thank you for the reference! The power of Social Media, the power of being connected and really in that instance the world was “flat” one person connecting with another. Am watching Downton Abbey now and am finding the break-down of the aristocratic class system after the First World War very refreshing, but it was very painful for some who depended on the servicing class to look after their every need. In a sense our educational hierarchy is like that. I hope it doesn’t take a symbolic “world war” to bring this to an end.

  3. Dan, I have referenced your book on many occasions. It has definitely redefined the lens through which I measure innovation!

  4. So glad the book resonated with you Susan. Thanks for the attribution in your post.


  5. Cliff…. I continue to hope that as we embrace the power of social media as a game changer in terms of professional learning and sharing, that we will begin to flatten the hierarchy that exists. But it is incumbent upon all levels of the organization to embrace its power. If we want those at the upper end of the organization to listen to our ideas, we better make sure we’re bringing great ideas to the table! Once that happens, I believe it will create the conditions for authentic innovation to thrive.

    I agree that regardless of the task… Technology, literacy, numeracy etc. students need/deserve informed educators!

    I appreciate your addition of two new “stop pretending” suggestions. I wonder about extrapolating the class size idea to school size. I wonder if in our bid to amalgamate schools, we’ve created schools where they are so large, that the leaders struggle with effectively meeting the learning needs of their entire staff?

  6. Doug, you’re singing my song…. Smile! Reflection is the most important component of any learning cycle and yet we are so busy moving on to the next topic, we rarely provide our students or ourselves the time to effectively reflect. I wonder if those responsible for leading the learning (school or system) truly appreciate the power of reflection?

  7. Good points, Carla. I wonder if teachers are effectively using some form of exit tickets to ask students what’s the one thing you truly learned today?

  8. This is actually 4 posts – each one could be discussed for days! re: Flat Army – I know a retiring superintendent gave that book to many and recommended it to others. It seems made for education! The key point seemed to be that innovation can only occur successfully when the hierarchy of structures is flattened. Might that happen in time or are we too entrenched?

    Along with your #2 and #5 I think we need to stop pretending that digital natives (our students) instinctively understand technology and “get it” and don’t need help, support and instruction. Over time I’ve just seen far too many situations where uninformed teachers take their kids down to the lab to “explore” in the name of “they can figure it out” and very little real instruction happens. Kids need informed teachers!

    I’d like to add some! We need to stop pretending that delegating is how we get things done or how we move a system forward. Everyone needs to begin to do their own work, the work that their role puts them in! No more asking someone else to do something you should be doing for yourself.

    Then we need to stop pretending that class size really matters. That with smaller class sizes kids get more individual attention and that is good. The need for smaller class sizes has only come about when total integration of every exceptionality was mandated back in the classroom. Before that (if the class was large enough) teaches managed class sizes of over 40 kids quite well.

  9. Thanks for playing along and creating this post. You add yet another set of eyes to the discussion and raise so many salient points. #4 rings so true for me. How many times do we see people hang on something that they did in the past and just haven’t moved on from there? Having a professional portfolio collects that evidence but, other than showing it to others, sitting back and going through it yourself and reflecting on the moments can be so powerful. Many look at it as a record of accomplishment; the true professional uses it as a launchpad to “where do I go next?”

  10. all of these speak to me. Thanks for sharing. I to would like to add one more.
    …that leaving educators with one nugget of learning is enough after a PD session.

    Imagine If that was our goal for students for an entire school day? Perhaps we need to think about the big ideas to take away.

  11. I agree with both of those. This past week I had the opportunity to work with 2 different groups of newly hired LTOs and I was so inspired by their dedication and commitment to their profession. In working with our coaches, in many schools, it is our newest teachers who are open to being collaborative and being reflective about their practice!

  12. Thanks Sue, I would add 2 more….

    1. That is takes money and
    2. That the person with the most experience will have the best idea.

    My experience this year in a school has been that the best ideas actually require little to no money and came from newer teachers with a fresh and different perspective

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