Posts Tagged ‘21st century’
In this week’s blog I am exploring two areas impacted by the shift into an era of rapid change
- How to have school leaders empower their staff
- How technologies will shape education in the near future
Whilst much of this blog is from other sources the highlights are mine. Those of you who have worked with myself and the Intuyu team will realise that many of the conversations we have with you about high performance cultures and learning environments reflect the principles addressed by Simon Bailey.
Thriving in a World of Rapid Change
Author Simon T. Bailey, in a recent presentiation, has some advice for how school leaders can thrive in an era marked by rapid change and disruptive technologies:
Focus on people, process, and problems.
Too often in times of rapid change, school leaders tend to focus on the rapid change in technologies that are causing disruption when they should be paying attention to their employees first and foremost. “We can’t forget people in the midst of a shift,” he said. “Organisations don’t have ideas—people do.”
People often feel overwhelmed by change because they are emotionally connected to the past and to the old way of doing things, Bailey said. To be a successful leader in times of change, you have to make sure your employees are working in an environment where they feel supported enough to be creative—and that means getting them comfortable with adapting to change.
One way to do this is to listen instead of hear. “I know you’re busy, but take five minutes a day to really connect with someone on your staff,” Bailey said. “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
Ask employees about their concerns, and make sure they know you’re listening to them by repeating what they’ve said back to them. That will help them realize, “hey, he really gets me,” Bailey said. Also, don’t be sparing with praise. “Brilliance manifests itself when people are in an environment that celebrates them rather than tolerates them,” he said. Change is easier to accept when it’s something that we lead, instead if something that is done to us. So ask your employees for feedback, and empower your staff to make suggestions.
To inspire innovation, Bailey suggested a process known as “stop, start, continue.” In staff meetings, ask: What are the things we should continue to do? (These are the things you’re already doing well as an organization.) What are the things we should start doing that we haven’t done before? And finally, what are the things we should stop doing—things that no longer make good business sense? This process can help lead to a state of “vuja de”—a term that Bailey borrowed from the late comedian George Carlin, meaning the opposite of déjà vu. If déjà vu is the feeling of “been there, done that,” then vuja de is a feeling of “going there, doing that,” Bailey said. In other words, it’s the ability to see what everyone else sees, but understand it differently— to experience the future in the present.
The innovation you bring about through this process should focus on meeting needs or solving problems that aren’t currently being addressed within your organisation or within education at large, Bailey said. “In the future, we will be paid for the problems we solve and the solutions we find, not just the products and services we provide,” he said, adding that most products and services ultimately can be outsourced. To focus on problem solving, ask these three questions, Bailey said: What’s the need? What’s the want? What’s your story? The answers to these questions will point to an end result that “brings about the shift that allows us to be relevant,” he said.
Technology trends and their impact on Education
As we head deeper into the Information Age and technology begins to shift the way that students and teachers collaborate, communicate, work and succeed, I thought I’d quickly outline some trends that will begin to impact the way we provide education.
1. Within the next year
Mobile Learning is already here and as the optic fibre is laid down around Australia and throughout the world the wireless ability of our mobile networks will increase and grow. How would the classroom and school look if lessons can be structured so students can immerse themselves in the topic of study at anytime and anywhere? What Apps exist that we can use to strengthen and differentiate the classroom? If there are gaps can we have students develop Learning Apps that will support their learning. They are digital natives and there some very clever kids out there (see 14 yr old boy who created a parking app for Sydney as is making a killing!).
Cloud Computing is only starting to happen, and there are many facets and evolutions to explore yet but the saying “the world is your oyster” fits the power of this shift. In recent blogs I showed some of the remarkable Cloud Computing websites which provide learning tools and virtual labs for all manner of areas. What would a school’s IT structure be if they no longer needed to buy the learning software but just access it in the cloud? Will there be a time where one of our tasks as educators is to pick and choose from the wealth of resources and relationships out their on the cloud and set up the virtual learning environment we need for this particular class or subject or unit?
2. Within 2 – 3 years
Game-based learning has had an infancy but in the next two to three years expect it to start to be adopted in greater numbers. We already have extrordinary games on the XBOX, Playstation, and so on that immerse you in a world and the player has to figure out puzzles, problem-solve, make decisions, and so on. With the Xbox Kinect we have the world first indicated in movies such as Minority Report and Avatar. You can expect that the world of game based learning will bloom. How will you use this to impact and enhance the learning environment?
Open Content is again in its infancy. With the trend to globalise information and make it instantly accessible to all, especially with Creative Commons licenses thriving and being used in all manner of ways, we will see organisations beyond Havard and MIT opening their doors. More and more organisations are in the midst of funding and creating open portals for the wider global public to enter.
3. Within 4-5 years
Learning Analytics – imagine if the system can analyse and measure the learning occuring in real-time and adjust itself to strecth and support the learning of the individual student.
Personal Learning Environments – in Orson Scott Card’s book “Ender’s Game”, Card created a world where six year olds had their own personal computing screens which they could interact with a personal avatar and world designed to enhance, support and train the students. Teachers and trainers would examine the student responses and support the computer programs work with the student. By the end of this decade the technology will exist for each student to have these learning environments. What will school become then? What will be our function?
What do you think?
I have realised over the past 6 months how few schools are actually clear about what their long term vision is. Part of the impact of this lack of vision and disciplined building of this vision is that schools can quite often be focussed on things that disperse their power and ability. They become like a thirsty person wandering in the desert – going from one mirage to the next. Teachers become inured to change and morale can suffer.
In an increasingly competitive educational and financial environment, and as part of the paradigm shift occurring as we move further into the Information Age, it has become critical for schools to be clear and focused in their vision and actions. Even more so is to develop a culture of disciplined people, disciplined thoughts, and disciplined actions.
- Empowering Level 5 Leadership (as Jim Collins speaks of in “Good to Great”)
- Getting the right people on the bus – getting a strong core group of leaders within the school who will be the team who will take responsibility to create and build the vision within the school community
- Creating a hedgehog concept for the school
- Creating clearly what it means, what it feels like, what it looks like when that hedgehog concept is accomplished
- Creating the non-negotiables as you move forward
- Confronting what is actually the current state of the school – what is working, what is not against the vision, mission statement, or hedgehog concept.
- And so on
What I want to share about this blog is how we worked with a leadership team at a school to create the hedgehog concept and began the process of uncovering their collective meaning, vision and actions to deliver on that vision.
A Hedgehog concept is idea that Jim Collins shares about in his book “Good to Great”. The idea comes from the story that the hedgehog succeeds because is only good at one thing – it rolls itself up into a ball with its spines outwards and it is protected against any dangers (such as foxes who have to come up with many strategies to succeed but rarely ever do). What Jim Collins found is that the most consistently successful organisations follow this concept as well. They adhere fanatically to their vision (Hedgehog Concept) and ignore taking on anything not consistent with it. This gives them an ability to remain focussed and able to develop consistent structures, approaches and culture.
There are three elements to the hedgehog concept:
- What can you be the best in the world at?
• Understand what you can and cannot be the best at
• Let your abilities, not egos, determine what you attempt
- What drives your economic engine?
• What has the greatest impact on your economics (reputation for a school)?
- What are you deeply passionate about?
• Great organisations focus on those activities that ignite their passion
You can see in the diagram below the result of doing this work with a school.
Some of the discussion that raged as the leadership team created the 3 elements was fascinating
- In distinguishing what they were deeply passionate about the team really cottoned on that this was not just a statement for students or learning but their bigger vision for all people. They wanted everyone (teachers, students, parents, etc) involved with the school to be exceptional, inspired and passionate. We toyed with the idea of “the best they can be” but distinguished this was limiting. How do we even know what people’s best is? We toyed with extraordinary but that is a quite oft used word that has lost its meaning for many. This led to exceptional – an exception to the norm.
- The team wanted to be the best in the world at building learning communities. I confronted the group this week to define what that actually meant. In the first few minutes of discussion it was interesting to note that different people had different conceptions about what that meant or looked like. WE spent most of the session doing the work to be really clear about what that meant. Here is what they created:
Groups of people with a common goal / vision
Working collaboratively (learning from and together)
Developing 21st century social competencies
Inspiring passionate and exceptional people
- The leadership team had to define some not-negotiable items in the shifting of the school to deliver its vision. These included:
o Working collaboratively
o Removing mediocrity
o Passion and Professionalism
o High levels of literacy and numeracy
o Making informed decisions on student learning
o Developing 21st century social competencies
o Every child matters
o All aboard or not on board
In the whole process it became clear that as questions and ideas arose it pointed to that certain structures, systems and thinking had to be embedded in the staff (including having the staff plan for delivering social competencies first and then strategically looking at the content to be covered and discussing how the content be used to develop the competencies).
The homework the leadership team is now working upon is to become clear about what each aspect of the hedgehog concept means and what it looks like. They will also share with another staff member who they consider to be a leader within the staff community. The purpose of this is to start enrolling the staff in a future being created and to ignite feedback and leadership. Finally, against the future and vision they have created, they will outline where they are now in that journey. This will allow us to plan the steps to achieve that future.