Tuesday, 30 December 2008

You don't need to be an expert...

Have you heard leaders say "I never ask others to do something that I wouldn't do myself"? This presumes they are the font of all knowledge. Good leaders realise that they do not know it all, cannot do it all, and should not do it all. Great leaders realise that they need to delegate and build capacity in others. Here is an example. The video below illustrates how teachers can help students by developing their own skills in the use of web 2.0 tools. They don't need to be experts!

Great leaders realise that they need to continue to develop their own skills, seeking feedback and feeling a little uncomfortable sometimes. They seek to understand their colleagues through developing strong relationships and realise that all are leaders in their own areas of knowledge and skills. There is a greater chance of developing expertise in others when a leader knows when to control, coach, partner or consult. As a keen advocate of the Four Quadrant Leadership programme, developed by Wilf Jarvis, I have pondered on this whole issue of leading others over many years. Great leaders know how to delegate and do so on purpose. Using the video as an example, consider these questions to help determine whether to delegate:

How well can they manage the task (job efficiency)?
In the case of students with web 2.0 tools many would be able to manage the technologies better than many teachers (the 'leaders' in this scenario).

What is their level of energy to complete the task? Are they highly motivated? Ambivalent? Defensive?
In using web 2.0 tools many students would be motivated.

So if those you lead are highly capable of doing the task and are highly motivated to do so - don't stand in their way. Be there - but let them be! If they need skill development then help them develop the skills. In doing so look to others - of all ages - to build capacity. Great leaders knowingly develop the efficiency of others, they do not seize control or pretend they are the expert in all things.

Monday, 15 December 2008

Thinking of giving to others at Christmas

I have been thinking about how we could support others at Christmas, rather than having yet another year of focusing on ourselves. I was wondering if anyone out there has been involved in the One Laptop per Child programme and whether it is a worthwhile cause. Does it make a difference? If you haven't yet seen the work of the programme check it out by clicking on the link and also looking at the YouTube video of Nicholas Negroponte discussing the One Laptop per child programme two years on. Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Silly processes to eliminate from schools

Silliness 1
Reporting to parents in written format once or twice a year.
Instead - online, ongoing conversations and co-creations.

Silliness 2
Trying to assess key competencies in traditional ways.
Instead - use a focus on managing self, relating to others, thinking, participating and contributing, multiliteracies to develop new ways of weaving curriculum together.

Silliness 3
School bells
Instead - flexible learning times, going with the 'flow' and music and laughter.

Silliness 4
Teachers in charge
Instead - the future is in collaboration. It's messy and complex. Accept it. This isn't the abdication of the teacher. There may still need to be direct teaching its just that it's focussed on learning needs of individuals and build their capacity to become interdependent.

Silliness 5
Expecting Principals to focus on learning while being distracted by property, compliance...
Instead - resource schools appropriately. Actively encourage other models such as networks of schools with shared administrative staff; a manager to run the school and a principal to lead the learning; or build superhuman robots which can do the job.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Student Voice in Education

Many schools would say they really engage students in their own learning and in influencing the direction of the school. It is certainly harder to do than it sounds. One example I do have is from a Year 3 class at Fendalton School led by teachers Rob Clarke and Claire Howison. Check out Team 18 and explore their podcasts and online learning. This learning is done in real time by the children - an every day part of their life at home as well as school. They co-create material, develop their own resources and give and get feedback (from home as well as school). Look on their blog at the Book Sell Feedback as one example of a googledoc survey to get feedback from colleagues.

It just seems so authentic to me... So I am trying to relate it to a five levels of engagement shown below.

I have adapted this model to meet the education environment. It identifies the difference between merely informing students (doing to) and empowering them to do things for themselves. Under what circumstances can you see that the collaboration and empowering levels would be used and how? Check out the following movie You have a message, undertaken by students in Te Awamutu. Think about their messages and get back to me... or check out some other ideas on Community Engagement.