August 2011


The slides above were part of my school-year kick-off presentation this morning to our fifty plus faculty and administrators this morning.   I organized it around our mission statement (below), setting out the pertinent sections of the mission’s four core values, and then sharing key initiatives we have underway to carry each of them forward.

Toward the end I linked our agenda to the the “eight unifying themes” of the NAIS Guide to Becoming a School of the Future, and explained the ways in which I think we are a school are striding strongly forward in becoming an exemplary school of the future.   (See also my February post about the guide).

Mission

St. Gregory College Preparatory School, as a diverse learning community, challenges and supports students to achieve excellence in character, scholarship, leadership, and innovation and prepares them to make a positive impact in the world through pursuing their passions, appreciating and creating beauty, and solving problems.

Values
  • Character
    St. Gregory honors the development of student character built on personal integrity, compassion, and respect. We promote the dignity, self-worth, and potential of each individual within a supportive, connected, and caring community which embraces a diversity of students, families, faculty, administrators, staff, trustees, and others. (more…)

Julian Treasure offers us above a recent TED Talk, a lovely exhortation on the value of listening, but notably short on the details.

His key recommendation is for the use of the acronym RASA.

Receive (which means pay attention to the person); Appreciation (making little noises like Ok), Summarize (the word so is very important to communications), Ask (ask questions afterward).

I live to listen, that every human being needs to listen consciously to live fully: we need to be connected in space and time to the physical world around us, and connected in understanding to each other.

We need to teach listening in our schools, as a skill: Why is it not taught?  It’s crazy.

We can move it to a place where everyone is consciously listening all the time, or at least capable of doing it.

Let’s transform the world to a conscious listening world, a world of connection, a world of understanding and a world of peace.

The video could make, I think, for a lovely preface to an advisory session (pressed for time? Just watch the last two minutes, beginning at 6.00) about listening, and students could be invited then to practice good listening for the subsequent 15 minutes in pairs or trios.

In this second video, Eli Parisier, author of the Filter Bubble, calls upon us to listen better by listening more widely to a wider array of ideas and perspectives.   (more…)

Today is Leadership Day, the day each year Scott McLeod invites educational bloggers to post their thoughts on advancing ed-tech leadership in our schools.  To quote Scott,

Many of our school leaders (principals, superintendents, central office administrators) need help when it comes to digital technologies.  A lot of help, to be honest. As I’ve noted again and again on this blog, most school administrators don’t know

  • what it means to prepare students for the digital, global world in which we now live;
  • how to recognize, evaluate, and facilitate effective technology usage by students and teachers;

Administrators’ lack of knowledge is not entirely their fault. Many of them didn’t grow up with computers. Other than basic management or data analysis technologies, many are not using digital tools or online systems on a regular basis. Few have received training from their employers or their university preparation programs on how to use, think about, or be a leader regarding digital technologies.  So let’s help them out.

For this year’s post (you can find my 2010 leadership post here), I’m taking inspiration from my very favorite pieces of writing about leadership in the past few years, Tom Peters’ 19 E’s of Excellence, which was published as part of Seth Godin’s December 2010 “What Matters Now.”  (On slide 82, Godin gives express permission to share and spread the book freely, and to “add your own ideas” to the book’s pieces.)

I pasted in a picture of the Peters piece at bottom; it hangs over my desk and informs my leadership every day.  Here I am using it as a model, both borrowing from Peters (italics are Peters) and adding extensively to offer suggestions for electronically excellent educational leaders (“eeels”). 

Please note that in every case below, the italics are direct quotes from Peters; non-italics are my own words.

The 17 E’s of Electronic Education Leadership Excellence

Experimentation: Try it, play with it, do something with it, and if it helps, do more with it.  If it doesn’t, move on to the next thing.  Whether it is social media, laptops or mobile devices in the classroom, video messages to the school community,  educational leaders will improve student learning and school environments by trying and testing digital tools to see the value they can offer.   Model learning by experiment.  (more…)

The accompanying online article can be found here.

From that article, by Arizona Public Media reporter  Luis Carrión :

St. Gregory College Preparatory School will begin the new school year with an oversized addition: one of the largest solar arrays in any Tucson school, producing 140 kilowatts of energy. The project consists of more than 600 locally produced solar panels that will offset St. Gregory’s energy bill by a minimum of $1,000 a month.

Jonathan Martin, head of St. Gregory, says the project will not only offset dependency on the grid, it will also provide students with valuable opportunities to learn about an important sustainable energy source.

Young people care about the environment, Martin notes, and they are passionate about making changes that will benefit the planet and future generations. (more…)

I’m very pleased to be a member of this new national organization, edleader21, a professional learning community for 21st century education leaders run by my friend and fellow Tucsonan, Ken Kay, the founder and longtime President of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills.

In this new video, Ken explains that “we’ve been talking for years about the need to create 21st century skills for our young people, but we haven’t really talked about another critical element, and that is how important is it to have a generation of 21st century leaders.”

The video features a set of outstanding 21st century education leaders and superintendents, including my friend Pam Moran, the superintendent of Albermarle county, Virginia, and my until-recently fellow Tucson educational leader, Elizabeth Celenia-Fagen.

In the video, Pam Moran argues passionately for 21st century learning for our students:

the reality is that old style teaching, 20th century teaching, is really over.  In this day and age,  it is kids active, kids engaged, kids being able to find out whatever they need at any moment in time in order to be able to accomplish whatever jobs they want to accomplish, whether it is in school, out of school, in careers, or in college.

Liz Fagen goes directly to leadership, asking how do we bring these important changes to our schools?

Think Big, Start Small.  When you take those best people, those early adopters, those innovators, and you put resources behind them, they will develop, they will exceed your expectations, and then from there it spreads like wildfire.

I am especially taken with the comments from Jack Dale, Superintendent of Virginia’s Fairfax county:

the breakthrough we need to make in looking at 21st century skills is not looking at them in discrete units but looking at them holistically and how well they are interconnected: What you want is leaders who think that way as well.

This is among my great passions: to support and encourage fellow educators on our shared journey to become the 21st century leaders our students need us to be.  With this in mind, it is a great pleasure to be a part of edleader21.

 

[slides graciously prepared and shared by Lisa Thumann]

Today in the thick of the congressional battle over the debt ceiling bill, the Obama team published what they viewed as clearly a critical important communication in support of their agenda: an infographic.   Increasingly, I think we are recognizing that in age of information saturation, we must become more effective in communicating key ideas, facts, and statistics, and graphic representations of these data are valuable tools for this.

(Please note that I am not posting this to support any political agenda, and I am really unsure whether I support this bill at all, nor as an example of an especially effective infographic, but rather as an example of their role and growing significance in communication today).

Last week I attended edubloggerconEast, in Boston, and my good friend Lisa Thumann presented an “Ignite” session as a sort of keynote. Ignite sessions, as an aside, are something that would be terrific to experiment more with in our schools, both by our students and teachers: they could present a nice way to refresh the old standby, what I did this summer, into a more dynamic presentation format that requires close attention to visual communication and public speaking.

About Ignite, from Wikipedia:

Ignite is a global event, organized by volunteers, where participants are given five minutes to speak about their ideas and personal or professional passions, accompanied by 20 slides. Each slide is displayed for 15 seconds, and slides are automatically advanced. The Ignite format is similar to Pecha Kucha, which features 20 slides displayed for 20 seconds each. The presentations are meant to “ignite” the audience on a subject, i.e. to generate awareness and to stimulate thought and action on the subjects presented.

As a prominent EdTech trainer in New Jersey, Lisa posed the following question:  What’s the next big thing in ed tech?  (more…)

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