Rigor vs. Relevance…Who Wins?

Rigor vs. Relevance...Who Wins?Daggett’s Presentation

A week ago I had the privilege of attending a full-day presentation by Bill Daggett. If you ever have the opportunity to work with him, do it! Highly recommended! Prior to the presentation I had heard so much about his ability to engage an audience. So, I was as interested in watching a world-class presenter do his thing as I was in the content that he would bring to the table. In both regards, he did not disappoint.

The Turnkey

A few days after Daggett’s presentation, I had about 20 minutes during a district leadership meeting to turnkey some of what I had learned to other administrators. The Rigor Relevance Framework served as the focal point for this time. However, rather than simply showing and explaining, I took an approach that resembled how I instructed when I was a fourth grade teacher.

I simply displayed a version of the framework (pictured) for all to see, and had participants pair up to answer and discuss the following questions:

  1. What is rigor?
  2. What is relevance?
  3. What’s more important?

When we came back together as a group to share out, the dialogue that ensued amongst administrators was impressive. After a few minutes I was able to sit back, keep quiet, and watch almost everyone willingly engage in a debate that pitted the importance of rigor against the importance of relevance.

Think for a second how the chosen “instructional approach” can familiarize adults (and students) with this content (or comparable content) through collaboration, debate, and inquiry. Meanwhile, the other extreme, as previously mentioned, would be to show, explain, and then probably just jump to the next topic without any meaningful dialogue or assessment of understanding.

My Thoughts

Like any good teacher, eventually I tried to move on without offering up my own opinion, even after I was prompted to do so by our High School Assistant Principal. However, after being provoked a second time by our Coordinator of Technology, I announced something to the following effect:

As a classroom teacher the rigor drove the relevance. I knew that if my students were consistently exposed to activities that were challenging and unique, they would be engaged and therefore the content would be relevant to them. In general, I led with inquiry and tried to let the rest take care of itself.

I should also mention that I followed up with the disclaimer that this approach is what I thought worked for my students and me, and that mileage may vary based on different contexts.

In the End

Regarding this post, what is worth noting is not so much the Rigor Relevance Framework (although, definitely look into it) but rather the idea that every instance of educator professional development is another opportunity to model best practice. Even a short, 20-minute turnkey during a district leadership meeting is not the exception. Never hesitate to blur the lines between the way you facilitate educator learning and how you believe learning should be promoted in the classroom.

What unique approaches have you taken when planning/facilitating professional development? Also, what experience do you have with the Rigor Relevance Framework?

Connect with Ross on Twitter.

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Yes! Flip Your Classroom!

Yes! Flip Your Classroom!Dissonance.

According to dictionary.com, dissonance can be defined as “lack of agreement or consistency.”

From my research, it is one of the hallmarks of any successful organization.

In Good to Great Jim Collins declares:

Indeed, one of the crucial elements in taking a company from good to great is somewhat paradoxical. You need executives, on the one hand, who argue and debate – sometimes violently – in pursuit of the best answers, yet, on the other hand, who unify fully behind a decision, regardless of parochial interests.

As Ed Catmull states in Creativity Inc.:

It isn’t enough merely to be open to ideas from others. Engaging the collective brainpower of the people you work with is an active, ongoing process. As a manager, you must coax ideas out of your staff and constantly push them to contribute.

We most provoke, actively try to understand all contributions, and ultimately do what is best for “business.”

My Last Post

In my last post we took a look at the reasons why I refused to flip my fourth grade classroom. However, rather than speaking in blanket statements (which is something I have been warned not to do), I encouraged dissonance and contributions from others by asking readers to respond with opposing points of view. I then promised to include these ideas in a follow-up post.

After all…Blogging isn’t always about declaring yourself the expert, but rather leveraging your platform to provoke thinking and promote collaboration.

Here are the dissenting/somewhat dissenting responses, verbatim: (I should also mention that there were several blog comments and tweets that agreed with what I had to say…but that is not the point for this particular post.)

5 Responses

I am in my 3rd year of flipped learning and the thing I like best about it is having more meaningful relationships. When I lectured I talked to maybe 4-5 students per class, you know, the same ones that would always answer or ask questions while the others sat there passively. Now I am happy to say I have the opportunity to connect with all 24 students each and every day. The video is just the beginning, it is what goes on in class that is most important and flipped learning has given me that opportunity. – weltyteaching

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4 years ago when I was under a strict pacing calendar, I found flipping to be my best bet. I was expected to cover a topic a day and assess on Fridays. I did not have time for exploration etc. Flipping afforded me the time in class to have conversations and target areas of need by placing students in ability groups to make good use of instructional time.

After two years of Common Core, my flipping looked very different and aligns nicely with Kyle’s thoughts. I would teach an exploration and make students struggle in class. Next I would send them home with a video that explains the algorithm and makes meaning of the math they struggled with in class. The next day, I would provide practice with the skills learned through the exploration and flipped video.

The in-class practice would be determined by a formative assessment where I would first see what students understood from the exploration and formative assessment then put students in ability groups. The formative assessment helped me group students based on need and target instruction accordingly. I don’t think anybody truly flipped their entire instructional practice. Just like good teaching, we assess what needs to be taught and find the best means for delivering that learning experience. – Julie Garcia

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I teach math also and found that I love having a flipped classroom. Each day I am afforded the opportunity to teach my students to struggle with a concept they vaguely know about. This dynamic allows the kids to develop so many skills, mostly the 4 C’s. I spend a lot less time lecturing and a lot more time exploring. Almost every day I get to talk about gathering evidence and where can we go to collect evidence to help us with this concept. After piquing their interest, they can go home and watch the video and instructional piece that may be useful to them for solving the concept. – Chad

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I have used the flipped classroom model when teaching IGCSE physics. However, I would not recommend this model as a general rule. In my case, I only flip the classroom when I feel it makes sense: when there is something that is not conceptually hard but requires extended practice. For example, when theory is extremely simple but problem solving can get complex. On the other hand, I prefer a more hands-on, inquiry-based approach when tackling more abstract concepts, for example that of the electric field. Unfortunately IGCSE coordinated science leaves very little time to cover an awful amount of content, which does not let me spend time developing things the way I would like.

I also find that the way problems are chosen is extremely important. I try to introduce two or three key ideas in the videos (which I record myself), which then get developed and extended by problem solving. It makes no sense to ask the same question over and over again with different numbers: questions have to challenge the students’ understanding and make them think. For example, if I were talking about Newton’s first law, I would make students consider situations where intuition and physics seem to give different answers, such as the fact that when you’re riding a bike at a constant speed forces are balanced, despite your feeling that you are making an effort: you’re just using all this energy to cancel air resistance, not to “move” the bike.

I also use hinge questions both at the start and at the middle of a lesson, where students use colored cups to show their answers. This helps me clarify common misconceptions before they take root.

As a corollary to your post, I would say that the model itself is less important: what’s important is being thoughtful about what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. This is not an all-or-nothing affair: you can flip some lessons and not some others or you can flip part of a lesson. You can also use flipping as a redundant source of information for students who missed class or who need to constantly review.

PS This is the first time I comment here, but I find your blog a constant source of enjoyment. – Eduard Arroyo 

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Ross,

I commented on the Steven W. Anderson’s post that you reference here, and I will try to “sell” the idea of flipped learning in a similarly here as I did there.

In the beginning of flipping, the general idea of making videos as homework is what started, and that still is where the majority of people start. However, the term “flipped learning” has morphed into more of a focus on pedagogy. After writing a 30 page literature review for my Master’s work on flipped learning, I would say a better definition of flipped learning would be, “A teacher’s effort to critically analyze the content in their classroom and how it is taught. The teacher then makes the BEST effort to push lower level Bloom’s outside the classroom for students to self-explore/digest, in order to make MORE room inside the classroom for the upper levels of Bloom’s.” The lower levels consumed outside the classroom do NOT have to be videos (readings, discussion forum set up on an LMS, etc.). Where teachers will “fail” with flipping is by pushing lower levels out in order to make more room in class for more lower levels (skill and drill). The example you reference where a math teacher makes videos and then does word problems in class is an example of this. Students never get beyond the applying level of Bloom’s. Students need to work through Bloom’s in order to learn, period. How they work through that, and how LONG they work at each level is up to the teacher.

One key fact that became apparent in my literature review is when teachers pushed out lower levels and worked in MORE upper level activities (that is, activities where students are analyzing, evaluating, creating) INSIDE class time, students perceived the class and content to be more valuable. As a result, attendance went up as well as classroom achievement and cognitive engagement.

I have created a website based on my research. It is designed for teachers to self-lead a change from traditional teaching to flipped learning. Maybe it will also help paint a better picture than what I am doing here (http://jardo3.wix.com/flippedlearning). I co-teach a course for grad credit based on these same principles.

I run into people who failed at flipping and then absolutely reject the notion. If a teacher says videos followed by skill and drill is bad pedagogy, then I wholeheartedly agree and stand with them. But teachers must be willing to change this misconception in order to see what research has proven HIGHLY beneficial of flipped learning.

Love reading the other comments posted. Hopefully we can come to a common definition that reflects the true effectiveness of flipped learning.

Let me know if any of my resources helped. I’m considering putting down the money for a domain if teachers find it helpful and useful. – Jarod Bormann 

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In the End

The end game is not trying to prove what is right and what is wrong. The end game is what is best for students. In order for our objective to be reached, often times we must provoke each other’s thinking, be candid, and embrace dissonance.

In short, according to one of the pillars of Google culture, “Consensus requires dissension.”

What are your overall thoughts on the significance of dissonance at work? How do you generally react when others do not agree with you? How do you encourage dissonance from your colleagues? Your students?

Connect with Ross on Twitter.

5 Ways Your Consensus Could Be Railroaded

5 Ways Your Consensus Could Be Railroaded 3What is Consensus?

Consider the following continuum, and select the point at which you feel you have reached agreement on a proposal in your own school:

We have arrived at a consensus in our school when:

  1. All of us can embrace the proposal.
  2. All of us can endorse the proposal.
  3. All of us can live with the proposal.
  4. All of us can agree not to sabotage the proposal.
  5. We have a majority – at least 51 percent – in support of the proposal.

If you have not done so already, pause for a brief minute and think about where your definition of consensus falls on the continuum.

The above survey is taken directly from Learning by Doing, by Richard DuFour, Rebecca DuFour, Robert Eaker, and Thomas Many. When they have disseminated the survey to staff, the most common outcome has been “a staff distributed all along the continuum because members do not have consensus on the definition of consensus” (p. 227).

The authors go on to explain that a group has arrived at consensus when:

  1. All points of view have not been merely heard, but actively solicited.
  2. The will of the group is evident even to those who most oppose it. (p. 228)

The Importance of Consensus

When making significant decisions within a school or district, the importance of obtaining consensus cannot be overstated. Actions without consensus can result in (1) initiatives falling flat on their face and leaders wondering what the heck happened, and (2) teachers (and possibly administrators) being responsible for what the heck happened, while at the same time building resentment for those in control.

As stated by Kerry Patterson, Josh Grenny, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler in Crucial Accountability, “A solution that is tactically inferior, but has the full commitment of those who implement it, may be more effective that one that is tactically superior but is resisted by those who have to make it work” (p. 147).

No matter the case, when attempting to move a school or district forward, the idea of consensus must be broached in one way or another. The change agent can:

  1. Actively seek consensus: In general, the preferred approach and what will most likely lead to sustainable change.
  2. Disregard obtaining consensus: In general, typical of top-down initiatives.
  3. Railroad consensus: Provides the illusion one is obtaining consensus while only being interested in getting her way.

5 Ways Your Consensus Could be Railroaded

For the purpose of this post, let’s focus on #3, railroading consensus. In my opinion, this is the option that tends to regularly fly under the radar, as it can take place without those involved even knowing it.

Five ways to railroad consensus are:

  1. Offering your ideas from a position of power, and then giving others a chance to disagree: According to Crucial Accountability, this approach does not work because (1) the person in power cuts off new thinking by first filling others’ heads with her ideas, and (2) is making it known what she desires, so others are unlikely to disagree. Once the one-sided discussion is finished (if a discussion happens at all), the leader falsely cries “Consensus!”

If you were part of an organization where conformity is encouraged (and dissension is frowned upon), how quick would you be to offer dissenting/alternative ideas?

  1. You pretend to involve others because it “looks good,” but ultimately you manipulate people/the situation to think as you do: In Crucial Accountability, the authors state, “The problem comes when this person attempts to pass off his or her opinions as an involvement opportunity…Involve others in solving ability blocks only if you’re willing to listen to their suggestions” (p. 151). In a way, it is a guessing game as to what the leader wants, with accurate guesses magically transforming into consensus.

One sneakier approach is when the leader allows for everyone to have their say and then announces the direction that she wishes to take. Unbeknownst to everyone else, this is where they were going to end up no matter what was brought to the table.

  1. You are generating a false sense of urgency: In instances such as these, an issue arises during a particular meeting and for some reason it has to be solved right then and there (either because a general feeling of impatience is present and/or because some type of false timeline has been concocted). Coincidentally, the person who brings up the problem in the first place – the leader – already has an answer in her back pocket. So, a path is chosen without real time to: investigate what is really going on, research best practice, involve more stakeholders, etc.

The leader can make it appear as if she is doing everyone a favor by removing a problem from their plates, when in reality it is all about getting her way. Often times, the stakeholders who are present do not end up realizing the ramifications of what has taken place until it is too late.

  1. You rule with an iron first: There are in fact leaders with histories of attempting to embarrass and/or lash out vindictively at any of their dissenters. Generally, dissension is interpreted (or misinterpreted) as disrespect or non-compliance.

Worst-case scenario is when such a leader has miraculously risen to the top (or near the top) of an organization, and is therefore able to hide behind her job title. In occurrences such as these, it is not even worth attempting to weigh in with your own opinions. So, the leader explains what she wants and everyone (eventually) conforms because (1) it is just not worth the trouble and (2) it is a “fight” that cannot be won because decisions are made based on job title, not by what is best for students.

  1. You lie and/or manipulate facts/research: With this approach, the leader is clearly talking over her head, is digging herself deeper and deeper, but those who are not well versed on the current topic might not recognize what is happening. Crucial Accountability mentions how newly appointed leaders are more likely to fall into this trap because they are trying to prove their worth and might take things too far.

I should also point out the potential danger of leaders talking with a convincing tone on topics about which they are far from knowledgeable. About a month ago, an educator from another district and I had an in-depth conversation in regards to how damaging this type of communication (or miscommunication) can be to an organization.

In the End

When it comes to establishing consensus, there is a colossal difference between not disagreeing and agreeing.

As an administrator, If I constantly find myself going around announcing something to the effect of, “This is what we agreed on,” I should ask myself what we really means. Did I genuinely seek consensus with everyone contributing as equals, or did I simply begin with my end in mind and then assist others in arriving at my destination.

What are your thoughts on the idea of railroading consensus? Am I completely off the mark, or is this something to which you can relate? Or does reality fall somewhere in between?

Connect with Ross on Twitter.

Insubordination by Social Media

Insubordination by Social MediaPart 1: The Problem

You are an administrator. You are sitting in an administrative meeting and someone mentions how a certain teacher has spoken out against the school or district on Facebook. One of the attendees happens to be friends with the teacher on the social media platform, so the meeting comes to a halt while said administrator pops open her computer, searches for the post, connects her computer to the projector, and displays the defamation for everyone to see.

The teacher in question is a dynamo in the classroom, but she has grown tired of the district’s latest direction (probably something to do with data). (We will leave out insults regarding state testing and/or the Common Core, as public complaints on these topics have become the norm, even amongst district leaders.) The administrators spend the next thirty minutes doing a little of each of the following:

  • Bashing the teacher, on both a personal and professional level
  • Formally, deciding what the punishment should be, based on district policy
  • Informally, deciding how they are going to “get even” with the teacher
  • Discussing how they can get the post taken down
  • Discussing who should be the one to confront the teacher about the post

Believe it or not, based on what I have experienced, heard, and read, occurrences such as this happen much more often than we think.

So, what went wrong? Why are these administrators faced with this conundrum, and how could they have proactively avoided it?

Part 2: The Solution

Teachers take to social media because they are not being heard in their own schools and districts, and they crave an audience that will listen. Not only is social media the avenue through which they cry out for help, but at the same time they are airing their dirty laundry in public, as if to say, “You wouldn’t listen to me, so now let’s see how everyone feels about what you’re doing!”

I believe that 9/10 of these teacher-related social media problems can be proactively avoided if administrators keep the lines of communication open with those in their schools and districts. This means continuously listening to stakeholders, seeking to understand their points of view, and doing what is possible to involve them in decisions with significant impact. (In general, people do not like to have things done to them.)

Last year, as an assistant principal in a different district from where I am now, I had teachers coming to me on a regular basis to voice their job-related concerns (some of which had to do with me). Although I was not always able to offer a solution, I can honestly say that I consistently (1) attempted to understand their perspectives, and (2) interacted with them as an equal. In other words, I believe that they were comfortable speaking their minds because I did not have an attitude that projected, “How dare you say that in front of me?” I am a firm believer in “perception is reality,” and as an administrator I cannot ignore teacher problems even if to me they might seem trivial. Also, the fact that the teachers were so willing to confide in me said a lot about the relationships that I had established with them, and in this I took a lot of pride.

Teachers are the ones who interact with students on a daily basis, so their opinions should be voiced and heard. According to a former fourth grader teacher, “I believe teachers need a platform of some kind to speak without feeling it will hurt their career. The teachers know the truth about how district policy and curriculum are affecting the students first-hand. The teachers need a place to work with the district to make improvements.” This platform can be at a school or district level, or it can be on social media. The choice, for the most part, depends on how administrators interact with teachers.

Yes, there will be times in which administrators and teachers disagree, but that is not the point. What matters is that administrators take the time to listen to and understand their teachers, and not disrespect them by disregarding what they have to say. When this ignoring takes place, and complaints fall on deaf ears, that is when social media gets involved. (The same could be said for parents who might be unhappy with a school or district. Once again, 9/10 times they just want to voice their concerns, and a teacher or administrator giving them the time of day will help to nip everything in the bud.)

Please understand that I do not support the bashing of schools and/or districts via social media (and, depending on the specifics, I do think that there are some instances in which reprimanding should take place). However, as a district administrator, if one of my teachers is publicly criticizing my work, I first need to turn to my own actions. Just like with misbehaving students, all we can do to change the behavior is modify how we react to it. Furthermore, when teaching digital citizenship (which is quickly becoming a non-negotiable), students, teachers and parents should all be on the receiving end of this instruction.

Finally, throughout this post I have emphasized the relationships/interactions between administrators and teachers. However, I believe that the same general rules apply to any two educators at different “levels” on the hierarchy (superintendent and principal, assistant superintendent and assistant principal, curriculum supervisor and assistant principal, etc.). Also, although Facebook was used as our example, comparable situations can involve all types of social media, blogging, and pretty much anything that is posted publicly.

In the End

Returning to our original scenario, it is easy to see why district administrators vindictively striking back at the defiant teacher will not solve the real problem at hand, which is more than likely an unhealthy culture. In addition, rarely does anything positive result from administrators using (or abusing) their “hierarchy cards” to strong-arm teachers into doing something (or in this case, not doing something). As stated by Kerry Patterson, Josh Grenny, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler in Crucial Accountability:

The flagrant and abusive use of authority, in contrast, guarantees little more than short-term bitter compliance…We convince ourselves that we need to use power to solve the problem, and we enjoy doing it. That’s because we’re thinking with our dumbed-down, adrenaline-fed lizard brains…Every time we decide to use our power to influence others, particularly if we’re gleeful and hasty, we damage the relationship. (pp. 113-114)

A better option to reactively deal with the predicament would be to help the teacher in seeing the consequences of the Facebook post and how they relate to the teacher’s personal values, such as the school’s reputation. As one middle school educator puts it, “I really think teachers are a school’s greatest PR. Why would a teacher want to publicly harm a place they work to make better? All criticism should be kept internal.” When posting out of frustration to Facebook, teachers might overlook this long-term damage. In Crucial Accountability, the authors exclaim, “Your job is to help make the invisible visible (p. 118).”

Whether dealing with these dilemmas proactively or reactively, what matters most is working together to do what is best for students. The best administrators with whom I have interacted accomplish this by setting aside their egos and collaborating with teachers as equals. This whole social media problem almost never even enters their radars because first and foremost they invest in people, not programs, data, tools, etc.

What are your thoughts on teachers speaking out through social media and/or blogs? How do you think districts should handle it?

Connect with Ross on Twitter.

Because Of or In Spite Of?

Because Of or In Spite Of?You’re a district level administrator. There’s a great principal in one of your schools.

Is the principal great because of or in spite of you and the district’s culture?

You’re a district level administrator. There’s a great teacher in one of your schools.

Is the teacher great because of or in spite of you and the district’s culture?

You’re a building level administrator. There’s a great teacher in your school.

Is the teacher great because of or in spite of you and the school’s culture?

You’re a teacher, building level administrator, or district level administrator. You work with great students.

Are the students great because of or in spite of you and your classroom, school, or district’s culture?

Connect with Ross on Twitter.

Traditional or Inexcusable?

Traditional or Inexusable?This will be a shorter post than normal, as I just have some thoughts/questions that I would like to get off my chest.

Often times in education we look at certain practices as what we call “traditional.” Here are a few examples of such practices that can be taken by administrators:

  • An abundance of top-down initiatives
  • Micromanagement of employees
  • Telling teachers to treat the textbook as if it is the curriculum
  • Universal endorsement of direct instruction and worksheets
  • One size fits all professional development

My question is, when was any of this ever appropriate or research-based? It seems to me that we justify our actions by calling them traditional when they’re nothing but inexcusable.

This dilemma reminds me of the time I was conducting research on standards-based grading. To prepare myself for opposing arguments I attempted to find research supporting percentage grades. There wasn’t any. Just like there isn’t research validating any of the five bullet points featured above (or a number of other “traditional” approaches that are sometimes promoted by administrators).

I should also add that I find it bewildering that educators often throw the “progressive” label at anything that runs counter to these five examples. Aren’t we just promoting best practice? Haven’t these counterexamples been supported for years by the most credible voices in leadership and education?

I am interested in any thoughts that you may have. Why do we continue to make excuses for detrimental practices? Why is it so difficult for us to transform research into practice?

Connect with Ross on Twitter.

Good is the Enemy of Great: Part 2

Good is the Enemy of Great, Part 2

In Part 1 of this post we took five quotes from the first half of Good to Great by Jim Collins and examined how they can relate to education. For this post, Part 2, we are doing the same with five quotes from the second half of the book.

“Leading from good to great does not mean coming up with the answers and then motivating everyone to follow your messianic vision. It means having the humility to grasp the fact that you do not yet understand enough to have the answers and then to ask the questions that will lead to the best possible insights.”
Any type of administrative or faculty meeting is an opportunity to effectively collaborate through the same techniques that we’d want to see used by teachers in the classroom. Leaders should ask questions that promote collaboration and inquiry (much like essential or guiding questions), which ultimately produce better results than if someone steps into the room with a predetermined solution and just gives everyone orders as to what to do. If you’re a “leader,” and you constantly approach meetings as if your primary goal is to get your way, you’re doing it wrong. To quote Peter DeWitt, “If we believe that faculty meetings should be a one-sided venue for principals to talk at teachers, then we must also believe the classroom should be a one-sided venue for teachers to talk at students.”

“The key, then, lies not in better information, but in turning information into information that cannot be ignored.”
When it comes to information that cannot be ignored, I think of common formative assessments (CFAs), which Doug Reeve’s refers to as the “gold standard” in educational accountability. In Learning by Doing, Richard Dufour, Rebecca Dufour, Robert Eaker, and Thomas Many explain, “Common assessments represent a powerful strategy for determining whether the guaranteed curriculum is being taught and, more importantly, learned” (p. 79). While we might be able to come up with excuse after excuse as to why certain data is invalid, as a classroom teacher it would be almost impossible to not want to take action if my students were collectively scoring lower than another class on a CFA. While an overwhelming amount of information (in companies, schools, and districts) might make us feel “data rich, information poor,” it is important to search our results for the numbers that are truly indicative of where we are and can therefore guide us in making the right decisions to get to where we need to be.

“Adhere with great consistency to the Hedgehog Concept, exercising an almost religious focus on the intersection of the three circles. Equally important, create a ‘stop doing list’ and systematically unplug anything extraneous.”
Concerning professional development, districts should not always be so quick to jump at the next big thing. Furthermore, a less is more approach needs to be taken, one in which the instruction of complex shifts and topics are not simply “covered” in only one or two sessions. In Transforming Professional Development into Student Results, Doug Reeves quotes Linda Darling-Hammond and Nikole Richardson, “The largest effects [of professional development on student learning] were found for programs offering between 30 and 100 hours spread out over 6-12 months” (p. 67). I have found that mile-wide, inch deep professional development can be counterproductive as participants often revert back to their “old ways” due to frustration and lack of administrative support.

“Nucor [a steel company] responded by organizing a series of forums to address the point that your status and authority in Nucor come from your leadership capabilities, not your position.”
According to Ed Catmull in Creativity, Inc., “When it comes to creative inspiration, job titles and hierarchy are meaningless.” In one of my articles for Edutopia I wrote about the importance of flattening the hierarchy, “One person’s idea is no better than another’s simply because he or she has a ‘higher-up’ job title, and certain responsibilities should not belong entirely to specific workers just because they happen to be in a department that has traditionally taken care of such tasks.” Also, Eric Sheninger (former High School Principal) recently wrote an inspiring blog post, “A Title Doesn’t Make You a Leader.”

“When used right, technology becomes an accelerator of momentum, not a creator of it. The good-to-great companies never began their transitions with pioneering technology, for the simple reason that you cannot make good use of technology until you know which technologies are relevant.”
According to Michael Fullan’s thoughts on transformational change, “Pedagogy is the driver, technology is the accelerator.” Also, as I often say, “You can be traditional with the latest technology, or you can be innovative with nothing at all.” Effective pedagogy must absolutely come first, as no amount of technology can mask ineffective teaching. In accordance with the SAMR Model, technology should be blended with solid instruction in order to redefine the learning experiences for all those involved. Furthermore, companies, schools, and districts must selectively utilize technologies that fit within the context of their vision, and not just use technology for the sake of technology.

How can you connect any of these quotes to education? How have you been inspired by a specific business book?