September 19-25: Professional Capital - Chapter 1 - A Capital Idea

September 19-25: Professional Capital - Chapter 1 - A Capital Idea

August 31, 2012 at 12:21 PM

Reflect on any or all of these questions - and share your thinking and challenge ours.

* What does it mean to you to "invest in high-quality teachers and teaching"?
* How shared and circulated is "capital" in your school/ district/ organization? Share examples to create the picture in our minds.
* Team trumps individuals every time. What does that mean to you? How does it play out in your organization?
* What do you see as the essential steps if we are to develop both high human and social capital?
* What of the wrong strategies are evident in our schools/organizations?
* What do you see as the right answers to achieve the professional capital that will impact our students' learning?

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Chapter 1- A Capital Idea - Team Trumps Individuals Every Time

September 19, 2012 at 6:07 AM
While I believe that it is important to develop individuals (we do want a highly effective teacher in every class and a highly effective principal in every building), we will only have a system of excellence (instead of pockets of excellence) if team is the focus.

I say this based on my own experience. I learned early on in my career - thanks to cooperative learning - that "we is a lot smarter than me." And it was through cooperative and collaborative opportunities as students and teachers that we were all stretched to a new level -- a higher plane of learning, understanding, and practice.

As a leader in a building, a district, and an organization, I am re-enforced daily the power of the "wisdom in the room." Again, it is the team that stretches me, takes me to a new level - again, in my learning, understanding, and practice.

I was reminded when I read Fullan's article, "Learning Is the Work," that it is just that! Day after day, when teams are learning together that we build capacity - that we move forward toward our shared goals and vision! For teachers/principals to improve their practice they learn from multiple people, from other teachers, from experts, from you! And when the focus of that learning focuses on the students and their needs/learning "styles," and the best instructional practices to achieve it, then everybody wins. I become a better educator; the students I serve becomes successful learners. Everybody wins because I was willing to go to the team, the "wisdom in the room" (which can now be world-wide) to become better.

Together is the key - it's a system issue. We cannot settle for pockets of excellence - only the team can get us to a system of excellence.

Note: Learning Is the Work is on the Iowa ASCD website. Search "Fullan" and it will come up.
 

Chapter 1 - A Capital Idea - The Wrong Driver!

September 19, 2012 at 6:22 AM
Michael Fullan reminds us that even the "wrong drivers" belong in quality systems - just not as the drivers.

Unlike the Top 25 Schools in the World, Iowa and the United States seem to want "educator evaluation" to be the driver that will get the change we want in education. I believe that coaching/feedback/collaboration should take its place as a driver. They will get the change, not evaluation.

I believe that evaluation may get us "compliance" - at least while the change is monitored, but coaching/feedback/collaboration will get true change. Why? Because a good coach will tie to my emotion - and when we tie to a person's emotion, we get commitment to change, not just compiance.

I wonder if Glickman's study "a million years ago" is still true - that 95% of us never made long-term change based on our evaluations! Through Fierce Conversations I have learned and experienced the power of emotion in our beliefs and our changes. Without it, true change does not occur. I believe that is why when we really do a KASAB (Knowledge, Attitude, Skills, Aspiration, and Behavior) around the change we want, we can then deal with the change in a focused way. Too often we want to focus just on knowledge and skills to get the new behavior - and yet we find we don't get the change. Why? Because we have not dealt with attitude and aspiration, which involve the emotional ties. Remember Kahneman's study that resulted in Nobel Prize - we make decisions first based on emotion and then on rationale. True for both men and women.

What would happen if we traded evaluation for transparency in our practice and used coaching and feedback (specific, timely, accurate) to get the changes we need. I believe it would be the difference between compliance and commitment!
 

Re: September 19-25: Professional Capital - Chapter 1 - A Capital Idea

September 20, 2012 at 11:21 AM
Lou,

I believe if we were willing to trust the wisdom in the room and be transparent with our results, the gains in student learning would far exceed accountability and compliance. I am not sure why it is so difficult for us to not gravitate toward a strategy that has proven itself to be unsuccessful. If accountability and compliance were the answer, every district in the state would be nearing 100% proficiency in student performance.

As I read this chapter, I was reminded of the McREL Balanced Leadership Framework and the role of collective efficacy in creating change. The premise is that it is only because we work collectively that we will achieve the desired result. The outcomes to be achieved by the professionals in the organization are dependent upon the social capital within the system. According to Goddard, this is an overlooked supposition in public education. This may be a symptom of a profession that has celebrated and supported the autonomous nature of the craft.

I look forward to better understanding the relationship between social and professional capital. I do believe that we cannot create substantive change alone, and our children are waiting for us to move beyond the "islands of excellence". It is not only time to consider, but to act upon, other possibilities.

Susan
 

Anonymous

Re: September 19-25: Professional Capital - Chapter 1 - A Capital Idea

September 28, 2012 at 8:59 AM
Here is what I have developed in my thinking so far from reading Chapter 1. I welcome everyone's thoughts and ideas for strengthening my thinking.

Specific Steps to develop both high human and social capital when starting from a typical, traditional, school (such as mine).

1. Craft a crystal clear mission, or fundamental purpose -- to ensure that every student is learning at high levels -- for the school and then develop consensus among all staff.
• This work is led by the building principal in collaboration with a guiding coalition such as a building leadership team.

2. Precisely identify and then develop consensus on the vision, which describes what the school must become if the mission is to be realized. This vision must clearly state the necessity for collaboration and interdependence.
• State up front that it is impossible any single teacher to meet the diverse learning needs of every student in every content area all of the time. However, it is possible for a staff of dedicated, highly collaborative, and interdependent educators to accomplish this feat.

3. Precisely identify and then develop consensus on the shared commitments (values) that all educators in the building, including cooks, associates, teachers, administrators, custodians, etc. make to each other to ensure that the building is progressing toward the vision and ensuring the mission.

4. Precisely identify and then develop consensus on the goals that will signal progress toward the vision and become cause for celebration.
• These are actions that we will hold each other mutually accountable for achieving and we will take action if someone is not helping us accomplish these goals.

5. Establish ways to inculcate the mission, vision, and values in staff new to the building as they join the school.
• Hire intelligently by sharing the mission, vision, and values with prospective employees and asking them up font that they will be expected to live with these guiding their work and relationships while working in this school.


These are actions that occur on an ongoing basis throughout the building after the foundation (i.e., mission, vision, values, goals) has been established:

1. Ensure that teachers have time to collaborate within the contractual school day based on schedules that they develop.

2. Ensure that everyone in the building has a consistent understanding of the vocabulary commonly heard throughout the building. For example, when “collaboration”, ‘planning time”, or “formative assessment” is mentioned, everyone should have a similar understanding of what these terms mean.

3. Frequently celebrate successes based on achieving goals. Use celebrations to regularly express admiration and appreciation for how people are working toward the goals.
• Use celebrations as a way of saying “thank you” to staff, to tell stories of the good things that people are doing throughout the organization, and to remind them of the purpose and priorities of the organization.

4. Openly acknowledge that mistakes will be made and that our goal is to learn from them. These setbacks are opportunities to begin again only with the benefit of greater insight and understanding. We will always keep moving forward.
 

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