Using Google Docs For Shared Vision

During our Learning Theory on-line class our professor put us into break out writing groups. Using the articles, we had to craft a vision statement using the various learning theories we are studying.  Writing with four peers simultaneously during a web class was powerful. We were forced to process longer and exhibit patience as only one voice can be heard at a time.  Leaders emerged, however, we all participated, and the end product was indeed a collaborative effort. I learned a ton about Heutagogy and how it applies to my own leadership   because this activity celebrated “knowledge sharing” instead of “knowledge hoarding”. I will absolutely use Google Docs as a tool to foster self-directed or in this case group-directed  learning hubs in the future with scaffolding support built in through strategic peer placements.

Our results our below.

As school leaders preparing to engage faculty in professional learning, all learning styles and differences should be acknowledged from the beginning. The acknowledgement of these
learning styles and differences should enable staff to advocate for themselves and their own learning throughout the process. In addition, we will enable self-directed learners to have all of their voices heard through the use of collaboration and technology
which can give “greater transparency and offer support” to learners in a variety of settings. As technology is used to connect learners (both faculty and leaders), “knowledge sharing” occurs rather than “knowledge hoarding”. Throughout this process of knowledge sharing, we will be mindful of the notion of double loop learning that allows for reflection on current theories and practices. It is key to acknowledge that staff can learn as much from students and that students can teach each other.  We need to continue to evolve and remain open minded to new research presented about the changing and developing theories of learning.  As a leader, it is essential to model the mindset of a lifelong learner.

Where Are The Kids?

I’m out of the pool and thinking about Professional Development that is “sticky”. Fred Ende talks about “timing” in his awesome book titled, “Professional Development That Sticks”. I think best just after exercising and my swim coach (who also happens to be my son) had us do 3,000 yards this morning.

In Ende’s book he uses the TAR (Think, Act, Review)  method to help keep professional development learning “sticky” or accessible to the participants long after the session is complete. I was thinking how cool it would be to have kids take part in this process. During the Act and Review phase students could be used as strategy recipients. Data could be collected during the workshop to analyze the effectiveness of implemented strategies.

If scaffolding techniques are being introduced to assist the high leverage practice of  writing to learn, then students of varying writing levels  could be used to assess their effectiveness. If the goal of scaffolding is to move learners from support to independence, then the support structures must be accessible and user friendly. When writing an essay, steps to complete the process could be provided and graphic aids within each step could be accessible. Leaders facilitating the PDL (Professional Development Learning) could model the scaffolding strategies on the adult learners and they in turn could model these techniques to real students who volunteered to help teachers learn.

During the review phase, qualitative and quantitative data could be shared. Did students access the scaffolds in place when they got stuck? How effective were the organizers? Learners at similar writing levels could be given the same writing task without the workshop  scaffold support and scores could be analyzed .

This type of PDL could save valuable time and give educators answers before even walking into the classroom. Finally, it could be a valuable tool to receive student feedback after the PDL session. I’ve found students are happily willing to expose my blind spots and often offer insightful suggestions that help make learning a more enjoyable and “sticky” experience.

Adult Learning Theory for Kids

I’m in DC for Christmas and  talking with my mother about the Merriam and  Bierema work from  Adult Learning-Linking Theory and Practice (Chapter Two: Traditional Learning Theories).  After reviewing the theories covered in the chapter, she suggested to take the good from each and apply them to student learning.

Here is my first shot!!

Create clear and attainable intrinsically motivated destinations for learning, offer individual and group modeled scaffolding techniques to build more complex levels of understanding, give self monitoring mechanisms, build networking skills by offering communicative technologies, and celebrate equally success, failure, and adjustments made along the way. Finally, allow everyone to share their work by answering these three questions: What did we do? How well did we do it? Is anyone better off?

Emerging Theory of Action: Tim Houlton

My emerging theory of action states, “If we create opportunities to enhance the professional capital of all staff members, then a cohesive learning culture that is centered on improving the level of academic and social engagement for all learners will exist.” Telling teachers what to do does not create opportunities to enhance practice.  Dictating the actions of others is not an effective leadership practice.  I learned this recently during a debrief session with my leadership mentors. My understanding of effective school leadership has changed throughout my course work and experience working with my mentor principal. I want to be a transformational instructional leader like the ones that Joseph Sanfelippo and Tony Sinanis reference in Principal Professional Development (Leading Learning in the Digital Age). I want to be a resonant leader. Boyatzis and Mckee (as cited in Sanfelippo and Sinanis, 2015, p. 8) said that a leader, “could impact change within the organization by building resonant relationships with those around him or her.” In leading the learning of adults, I want to create an atmosphere of congeniality where instructors are sharing high leverage practices that enhance levels of engagement and the depth of knowledge being obtained by students in the classroom. I want to motivate others to feel passionate about an agreed upon shared vision and goals that focus on broadening educational leadership relationships that use student driven data to support evolving individual practices that are better suited to meet the needs of kids in our new age of technology. Boyatzis and McKee (Sanfelippo and Sinanis, p.9) go on to say that, “Great leaders are able to inspire the community through an optimistic perspective and a clear mission focused on collective goals. “In the article, School improvement in high-capacity schools: Educational leadership and living-systems ontology, by Coral Mitchell and Larry Sackney, it talks about high-capacity schools analyzing the outcomes of actual practices. It states, “Coordination of practice grew from analyzing the outcomes of actual practices and following up with collective problem solving as needed” (Educational Management Administration & Leadership, Mitchell and Sackney, 2016, p. 854).

There are several aspects of leadership I hope to better understand when leading the learning of adults. As a leader, I want to access more tools to help support instructors that want to use high leverage practices during instruction. I’ve experienced several instances where teachers were eager to grow and change but needed some specific strategies.  In addition, when planning professional development learning sessions that are “sticky” and follow Fred Ende’s “Oreo cookie” approach to learning that “Protect the center with structurally sound bookends (i.e. Planning and follow up) so we’re able to discover an incredibly rich and substantive central phase (Professional Development That Sticks, Fred Ende, 2016, p. 31”). I’m wondering if there are specific strategies or practices that enable teachers to enhance the metacognitive recognition within each learner so they can successfully answer the question, “How do I know I’m learning?” Finally, when considering the ever evolving field of communicative technology and the fear many adult learners (I was included on this list) still possess, I’m wondering how to create a sense of urgency so more are willing to try new technology such as voxer, tweeting, blogging, google classrooms, using zoom to support conferencing, and various other instruments to support student learning.