What does the learning in this session mean to your practice? How will you apply what you’ve learned? What questions remain? Do you have examples of ways you’ve applied these concepts to your school site?
Is Your Leadership Attitude Worth Catching? (Derek McCoy)
Are you on fire for leading change in your school? Do you inspire your staff and students to press the reset button everyday and give their all with renewed effort? Do people see you as the main cheerleader and visionary of your school? They should. During this opening talk, we will strategize and share how to keep a focus on the main thing and be the leaders our schools need. Presentation Slides: http://buff.ly/29WNdcY
I attended the opening session of the Discovery Principal Summit 2016 (DENSI2016) last night. This is my second year at the conference and am already taken up by the positive spirit of the people here. Principals from all over Canada and the United States.
Our for session was by Derek McCoy @mccoyderek and I tried to capture some of the moments of his talk in my twitter feed (below). We also get a question to ponder after each session, which is a great way to reflect on our learning.
Derek said lots of positive things last night, but the main message for me was Attitude. This is what we need to convey as administrators – and it has to be one that is full of joy. We are very privileged to have the jobs that we do. We really need to remember this every day and make sure that we never (if possible) get caught up in the day to day administrivia of the job and keep in mind that our job is to bring joy to our school community.
This can mean many things. For me, it means constantly trying to think outside of the box. It means looking for the next great idea that will make the educational experience for our students that much better.
What a blessing to be in this position! To be able to affect the lives of children and the community every day – as long as we remember that our attitude – being the positive influencer in your educational community is your number one job.
Everything flows from this.
One quote that Derek used last night is the most important for me – “If at first the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it.”
Too often as administrators, I think we go for what is safe or what is politically correct. This stifles creativity and certainly takes all the joy out of education.
I want to follow what Derek calls a bias for ‘Yes’. This could change our educational system, currently tied up in so many accountability knots into something wonderful. If we had a bias towards Yes, how would that spread to your school. If this spirit spread, what would happen to our school? What might even happen to our district?
My main takeaway from last night is to keep focused on the joy of our work and living every day by saying yes first. Maybe we will get some of the absurd ideas that really make a difference
What I really like about this book are the provocations that are put out there in every chapter. In chapter 9, George Couros writes about the importance of the appropriate technology being introduced into schools, but more importantly, he writes about the mindset that needs to go along with that.
We are trying to implement 21st-century technology with management systems that sometimes seem to harken back to the 19th century.
Our management systems have not caught up to the terrific learning opportunities, assisted by technology that are out there. Couros quotes Seymour Papert in this chapter and I have to add part of the quote in this post because it defines the bind we are in as we try to revolutionize our inflexible education structures:
So if I want to be a better learner, I’ll go find somebody who’s a good learner and with this person do some learning. But this is the opposite of what we do in our schools. We don’t allow the teacher to do any learning. We don’t allow the kids to have the experience of learning with the teacher because that’s incompatible with the concept of the curriculum where what is being taught is what’s already known.
Seymour Papert, Seymour Papert: Project-based Learning,” Edutopia, November 1, 2001.
What is really needed is a change of course (pg 146) when it comes to the application of educational technology in our schools.
If we do ______, what is the balance of risk vs. reward?
Is this serving the few or the majority?
These are essential questions – how often are these questions asked when it comes to the implementation of technology? I believe, in my experience, these questions are asked by technology departments, but too often their way is barred by system decision makers who do not have as clear a vision on how to answer these questions.
Are we really asking what is best for the learner, or are we asking what is easiest, cheapest fastest in the short-term? Are we really exploring what is best for all learners and do we really have a comprehensive plan to come up with the intelligent implementation that involves all learners – students and teachers alike.
What if we promoted risk-taking to our staff and students and modeled it openly as administrators?
This is the ‘what if’ statement that really jumped out at me from George Couros’ book, The Innovator’s Mindset. As an administrator, I really think that risk-taking has to be part of our job. How can we expect that anything will ever get done if we wait for someone else in our organization to do it?
This is one of the great challenges of leadership. Administrators must be accountable to the school boards who employ them. School boards are ultimately accountable to the public. This is very clear, but at the same time, I would argue that part of being accountable means taking the risks that are going to push the boundaries of educational practice.
If not the administrator in your school, who else is going to do this?
Taking risks can be a challenge. We work in systems where compliance to a whole set of regulations is expected. I recognize this and I take my responsibility seriously. But, at the same time, I think we are all called upon not to ‘wait’ for the next great innovation, but to play an active role in being part of that next new wave.
This does not mean you have to have to jump on every bandwagon that comes along, but it certainly means that you have to live out on the edge a bit and be willing to take the kind of risks that will create an atmosphere in your school where others will also feel free to innovate and create.
This can get you labelled as a ‘rogue’ from time to time, but at least you are out there trying to make a difference. The discomfort of being labelled will always pass, but the changes you initiate can have lasting benefits for your school community.
Just imagine. When teachers and students feel free to create and follow their dreams in a safe environment that accepts innovation what great things will happen? Things that you could never imagine if you spend all your time being in ‘control’.
I think more of us need to take that leap. I think it is part of our job. We were not put in these positions to remain complacent and comfortable.
Every once and awhile I am able to make it to major conferences either here in Canada or in the US. Last week, I attended the FETC Conference in chilly Orlando Florida and have just spent two hours with John Sowash on Google and the Paperless Classroom.
on the first day, I attended a three-hour session on Makerspaces, MaKey Makey and eTextiles. Later I will be attending a session on filmmaking in the classroom. All this at the preconference!
my attempt at eTextiles
We really need to attend these conferences if we want to move learning in our schools. As a principal, I am very fortunate to be able to attend a major conference every two years. I have always taken advantage of this opportunity and I have always learned a great deal to bring back to my school.
Conferences also gets the creative juices flowing. My to do list just from this morning includes learning Pear Deck, arranging a workshop on Hapara and connecting again with Discovery Education. Not bad for the first two hours!
Creativity and innovation are the lifeblood of education. Educators need the opportunity to share and exchange information as often as possible. Twitter is a great help, but there is nothing like a real, live conference to really get the creative juices flowing.
This is a great place to connect as well. Many of the people I follow on Twitter are here, Richard Byrne (Free Technology for teachers) and George Couros (The Innovator’s Mindset) are both here as keynote speakers. The chance to see these educators live and possibly talk with them is exciting – my version of attending a Rock concert!
This may seem a little nerdy, but these conferences really revive my love for innovation in education. The workshops fuel me with ideas that we can try back at our school. Conferences fuel my desire to write and share with as many educators as possible. I even present at some of these conferences and was briefly on the organizing committee for one in Ontario, Canada.
I should probably be doing more of this sort of work, but I am happy to attend and share right now.
As we get ready for our next workshop, I am meeting people from all over the States and Canada. I have talked to the presenter who I know can help us propel our makerspace to the next level.
The first day of FETC was great. We had a chance to really focus on important technical innovations that are changing the nature of education. Google applications to make a paperless classroom, experiencing a makerspace and methods of film-making in the classroom. A full day!
The three-hour format allowed us to try out some really interesting tools for the classroom. The makerspace workshop had me totally engaged making circuits using play doh, metal tape and fabric. Nothing that we were using cost more than $25.00 for a simple kit that uses play doh as a connector. Other materials cost just pennies, but I really enjoyed having the opportunity to work with these materials to make different circuits. This is a good lesson for me – you don’t need to have the latest technological gadget to create something new.
my paper circuit – a work in progress
I quickly got caught up in making my own inventions, lighting up diodes and connectiung buzzers. Each station had a differnt challenge for us and what we created was our own. What freedom – to simply use your imagination and succeed at making something new.
Each kit was labeled with its own QR code linking to a website expanding on the activities in the box.
The three-hour workshop just flew by and I thought to myself what would it have been like to learn about circuits and innovation when I was a student, free to invent what I wanted to invent. I never understood circuits drawn on a caulk board.
Although I have understood for a long time the importance of makerspaces as a way to encourage innovation and creativity, I have never taken the time to actually sit and work through some of these tasks. So simple, but so empowering.
When I return to school, I will look for ways to incorporate some of these great ideas into our makerspaces. No need to look for the newest robotics kit – kids can create with some of the simplest materials available. The key element in all this is simply to let kids create, don’t wait to amass a huge pile of wires and diodes, just get a few simple kits and get started!
I am combining a few ideas in this post. In chapter 5 George Couros writes about leading, learning and innovating while in chapter 6 he writes about engagement versus empowerment. He also focuses on compliance and how this stifles any real, deep learning.
These are challenging chapters because schools continue to be places where compliance is valued and innovation is in short supply. As George mentions in an earlier chapter, it is not good enough to have islands of innovation, we need systems that encourage innovation and engage people in such a way that they are willing to take the risks necessary to bring about real change.
I think this is a tall order in education where compliance is valued as a way to make sure that the corporate vision is sustained.
Maybe real innovation, and real learning cannot be done on a system-wide basis. There are organizations that thrive on innovation and engagement like Google and Apple to note the two best examples. In neither corporation is compliance a core value. Valuing compliance kills creativity and invention. So how are we going to manage change and encourage innovation when we are more about ‘school’ and less about ‘learning’ as outlined in Sylvia Duckworth’s graphic above.
I would argue that there is nothing wrong with having our islands of innovation. Over time, as more people write about creativity and learning there is always the chance that these islands will grow and possibly merge into subsystems where the results of innovative, empowering leadership may be noticed as the real way to encourage student growth and creativity.
My hope is that more people will write about the innovator’s mindset and that true innovation in education will become more than a convenient label.
People who want to lead their educational community will have to seriously consider the lessons in these chapters. Leaders need to ask are they all about learning or all about school. Do they empower their staff, do they create a climate where risk taking is encouraged, have they moved away from a compliance model to one that favours empowerment of staff and students.
We are charged with developing the next generation and we need to always question and assess how we are doing. Are we creating a generation of consumers or creators?
This is the second in a series of blog posts written by Cathy Iverson, the library tech at St.Luke and St. Anthony schools – she is certainly the glue that has brought us together and made the MakerFaire happen!
As a follow-up to my last Blog post, St. Anthony Makerspace: Our Seven Top Tools!
I’d like to tell you about our incredibly successful, first ever, Mini Maker Faire!!!
On April 30th, we finally saw our much anticipated MakerFaire come to life. After weeks and countless hours of planning sessions, tweaking schedules, texts, Tweets, and emails, the day was ours and We rocked IT!
Our grade 5/6’s here at St. Anthony were asked to break into committees to help facilitate this epic day. Well, they certainly “rose to the occasion” and were instrumental in making this the success it was. Thanks to their teachers for all their patience and support during this time, the students outdid themselves on so many levels:)
As the buses arrived there was a buzz in the air. Both the Kitigan Zibi and St-Luke Ottawa students were welcomed at the main entrance by a giant banner and our Welcoming Committee, who led them to the gym where each student was given a lanyard with their name, school and top 3 activities for the day. After a few welcoming words from our Principal, Paul McGuire, one of our main organizers, Reg McCulley, gave the students instructions on how the day would proceed.
It was then time to start the Demos in the gym. Students were transitioned from demo to demo so as to not create any gridlock at one particular station. An amazing music Playlist, chosen by one of our student committees, added to the excitement and anticipation.
Here’s a list of what we had going on:
Jeff Ross/Raspberry Pi/ Minecraft servers
Minecraft Master Game Designer
Luc Lalande, 3D Printing/Minecraft “Creepers”
Minecraft and 3D Printing Station
Demo and Activity station
Marlaina Loveys Lego Bristlebots and Mazes
Rick Alexanderson (St-Peter High School) CARL Robot demo
Alison Evans Adnani Makey Makey
Luke Van Shaik and Brittini Ogden LED paper airplanes
At 12:30 all the students were sent outside to enjoy a pizza lunch under a bright sunny sky. (Thank you Tracey Crowe of University of Ottawa, you are fabulous!!) They stayed outside for an extra 15 minutes to get some air, shoot some hoops, play a little ball hockey and mingle.
After this nice break they moved on to the “hands-on” portion of the day and started on their pre-selected activities. Discoveries were made, “Wow” moments were plentiful and opportunities to collaborate with students from other schools were now a reality.
To add to my St-Anthony MakerSpace: Top Seven Tools. here are my Top Ten Rules for a Successful MakerFaire:
Network – Get out there and find like-minded innovators)
Communicate – Find a suitable platform. We used Asana or Google
Committees (Empowering students is a Powerful tool).
Delegate – Divide and conquer. (People WANT to help. Let them)
Find Sponsors to help with funding.
Know your physical space limitations.
Enlist your best organizer (Reg McCulley, you KNOW you are!!)
Always have a plan B
Food – Kids like food.
I would consider this event a monumental success. The students enjoyed it, learned from it and were empowered by it. There couldn’t possibly be more criteria for success than that.
Thank you Paul, for your innovative spirit, because ultimately, without you, this would never have happened.
It really does “take a village…”
Just had to add this little video – some of the highlights of the day
white-space: pre-wrap;”>St Luke Ottawa/ St. Anthony