Leading with Strengths #immooc

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How do you find the balance between “mentoring” and “micro-managing”

to ensure people feel supported and comfortable taking risks?

[Question, Chapter 8, Innovator’s Mindset, George Couros]

Leaders empower their organization’s members; they do not dictate to or manage them. How do leaders empower their people? With a shared vision, a leader finds within each member a strength which promotes that vision. A leader lets the person know, and encourages that person in that area, building on that talent. That first step to knowing one’s team members is the first step towards building the trust that allows each member to speak up, knowing their leader supports their work.

Teachers will grow professionally when their administrators take a personal interest in their careers. When teachers feel cared for, just like students, it goes a long way toward creating a great school culture. 

Carolyn Jensen, principal for Parkland School Division

Chapter 8, Innovator’s Mindset LOC 1846 if 3535

In many schools both students and teachers find themselves in a data swamp where the focus on remediation, interventions, and weaknesses under the guise of “school improvement” mean only negative conversations, expectations, and program implementations to improve text scores. Any recognition of what teachers have done well is undermined by mandates and requirements and meetings that tear at their professionalism. And leaders find themselves stuck in the muck of those mandates and struggle to clear the path for a focus on students as whole persons, not failures.

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People who do have the opportunity to focus on their strengths every day are six times as likely to be engaged in their jobs and more than three times as likely to report having an excellent quality of life in general.” Tim Rath

Clearly we need to make sure our educators and students have ample opportunity to explore and practice in areas which they thrive. George Couros

Chapter 8, Innovator’s Mindset LOC 1714 of 3535.

So, What about mentoring members for improvement?  Think about this from Tom Rath and George Couros:

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If we want our team members to be actively engaged rather than disengaged and compliant, we, as peers, and leaders must focus on strengths.  But how does that help us lead to mentoring?

Great leaders practice balancing trust and autonomy while providing strong mentorship…pushing others’ thinking and abilities by asking questions and challenging perceptions without micro-managing.

George Couros,Chapter 8, Innovator’s Mindset LOC 1740 of 3535

Chapter eight provided a great example of how to push thinking. Mandates are often categories of requirements, so why not form teams around those requirements — let members choose according to their interests. Remind them of their strengths, and give each team autonomy as they apply each one’s strengths to work together from their professional knowledge to innovate the solutions that would best fit the students’ strengths as well.  What would happen?

While we supported and learned from one another, we also pushed each other to be better. The teachers and staff started to see each other as experts and valued their contribution and expertise.

Each individual is recognized for his or her own unique qualities and how those strengths support the overall vision of learning for our school

George Couros,Chapter 8, Innovator’s Mindset LOC 1870 of 3535 

Grow the solutions locally. Build that community of professionals. Within that community, members see each other’s strengths, and merge their unique ideas into a focused solution based on that school’s students’ needs. Only then, when all members feel supported, does trust and collaboration move the organization forward. Without the input from professionals themselves, the culture is built only on compliance, not engagement, not empowerment, and teachers do not see or feel their value. With professionals who believe in themselves, are supported for their strengths, and participate with those strengths towards the school vision, then a culture of learning forms, and teachers and students begin to ask, “What else could I do to support our vision?” And that’s where teachers begin to mentor each other.

Learning is messy, and we have to be comfortable with risk, failure, growth, and revision.

George Couros,Chapter 8, Innovator’s Mindset LOC 1796 of 3535 

What is the balance? Find and trust in the strengths of the people in your organization; bring the ideas from those strengths into the process of deciding solutions to issues. Model risk-taking with one’s own strengths and begin the journey of trust-building so that the members begin to question how to improve themselves.

Key to this issue of strengths-based leadership is taking the time to talk with your people, to never stop encouraging, recognizing, and supporting their leadership to make the school great for students. It’s specific, it’s modeling the expectation of celebration, it’s providing that celebration individually and for teams. It’s not a reward or announcement: it’s recognition and letting them know the value of their work to the school. The emphasis is on the doing and succeeding in small steps, and that their work and ideas make it happen and let it continue. It’s an ongoing conversation of the collaboration and commitment that teachers accept to get our job done.

Two questions suggested for this journey:

  1. Describe your dream position next year, what would it be? George Couros
  2. Where do you see your career in the next three to five years? Carolyn Jensen

Now, how do the answers help build the organization by letting the members shine through those answers?

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The Innovator’s Mindset . Empower Learning, Unleash Talent, and Lead a Culture of Creativity. Dave Burgess Consulting 2015.

Tom Rath, Strengths Based Leadership: Great Leaders, Teams, and Why People Follow (New York: Gallup Press, 2008).

As a final note: Take this to the student level. Read Debbie Donsky’s The Truth of Who We Are — Let’s change the focus to strengths and talents and passions rather then remediation of weaknesses.

Agency #immooc

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What is best for the learner?

Whether student or teacher, what is best for each as learner is that which builds the capacity to learn and invent on their own with the freedom to act to forge their futures and make the world better because of it. We need to build the capacity of knowledge to empower learners with the confidence that they can invent their world.

To be truly empowered, people need both ownership and autonomy.

George Couros, Innovator’s Mindset

How do we frame our work together as educators and with students, all learners, so that we own what we do, with autonomy in our journeys? How do we grow agency in our teachers and students?

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Build Trust and Relationships

First step: slide into the path of our students or another teacher to understand each other, to know where we’re from. Build time to listen. Listen. Trust in their choices. Creating an environment of trust warms the willingness to engage; it empowers people with their own agency to make a difference. It’s ripples radiate throughout the community: trust is the sunshine that warms the soul. It builds confidence to risk, to know failure will not be met in a negative way, but as a process to learn, and so builds resilience.

As leaders in education, our job is not to control those whom we serve but to unleash their talent.

George Couros, Innovator’s Mindset

Teachers are prepared with professional knowledge; trust them to do so.

Students are prepared with curiosity; trust them to use it.

Disrupt the Routine

Next step: Disrupt the usual. Share leadership: gather solutions and insights from staff, or as teachers, from students. Expect discord in the dialogue:

Innovation often comes from conflict and disagreement, not in an adversarial way but in a way that promotes divergent thinking…to actually create a better idea– perhaps one that merges multiple, shared ideas.

George Couros, Innovator’s Mindset

Step Out of The Way

Third step: Once the idea that voices are not only heard, but also become a contribution to solutions, then the willingness to participate actively increases. Whether in improving school programs as teachers or developing pathways to learning projects as students, once the doing has been their choice with their voice, the foundation of agency grows.

Teachers own and offer their ideas, collaborating with others to improve student learning. Students own their learning, thinking as authors, mathematicians, historians, scientists, musicians, artists, engineers, leaders, etc. Yes, both teachers and students become leaders: organizers, designers, collaborators, being flexible and team players. They see themselves as creators rather than consumers, contributors rather than recipients.

Celebrate the Culture

Fourth Step: Reflect on the growth. Review for improvement. Once the community of learners, educators and students, moves towards the mindset that each is a vital participant, leading or following as needed, then step back and reflect on what worked and why. Share successes. Soon what didn’t work will come forward. Design next steps from both. And begin the transparency of reflective processes to continue the development of a culture of learning and a culture of innovation. That might look like blogs or portfolios, but sharing is key to continued reflective practice.

Share Innovation

Finally, identify how the journey has created new and better solutions and processes for the school or classroom. Celebrate the innovative ideas, successful or needing revision: each risk comes from the willingness of everyone to build a better community within the school and without. Celebrate and share in social media so others can learn, the community is informed, and progress is curated. The feedback locally and globally will add ideas and further innovation.

Continue the Journey

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George Couros suggests  the above five steps to continue the foundation for an innovative culture.  What would that look like?
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An innovative culture builds agency, whereby its participants feel trusted, are confident to voice ideas, co-create solutions, own the process, and act in collaboration with other participants to make the community better. Educators and students alike learn and grow w together in such a culture.


As we discussed progress in developing the foundation for innovation in our Voxer group, a Google Slices for crowdsourcing suggestions and experiences for  innovative professional development or meetings awaits your participation so we all can share in an open way to bring an innovative culture to our own situations with the input of all participants.  Please enjoy, use, and add your own:

Connected Educator Month #ce16 #immooc

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It’s Connected Educator Month!

How will you connect with others outside of your school to empower yourself and share with others?

I’m connecting in the University of Michigan’s Virtual Digital Writing Conference every Sunday. So many exciting and interactive sessions, including keynotes and conversations with Dr. Troy Hicks @hickstro This event is also a National Writing Project program.  Watch as many or as few as you want each Sunday in October. Free, but registration is required.  Here are the sessions I participated in on Sunday, Oct 2. Follow on Twitter at #4TDW

I’m also taking part in Innovator’s Mindset Mooc by George Couros, author, principal, a book study with 2000 participants, including whole school districts. Katie Martin also facilitates. We participate in many ways– as many or as few as you wish: webinars / podcastsVoxer group, Google Plus Community, Facebook Group, Twitter hashtag #immooc, and blogs.

With the ideas we share, we become better. For instance, after reading others’ blogs and tweets, and participating in the webinar I wrote this post. Musings on Innovation. The last graphic in the post is a list of questions I would use with students based on the 8 characteristics of an innovator. So my friend Kevin Hodgson [who is the closing keynote for the VT conference] created a comic about the post’s ideas for innovating school design, which will add context to our thinking. Kevin and I are moderators for the IMMOOC Google Community. The great thing about a MOOC is that you can lurk or join in at any time. Learning is forever in many forms.

I’m also reviewing Mark Barnes‘s Hack Learning series book, Hacking Engagement by James Sturtevant. Empowering students through active engagement of value is key to my teaching. How do I connect with Mark? We’ve been following each other on Twitter for years, and his work inspires my teaching. Check out his book, Role Reversal

Achieving Uncommonly Excellent Results in the Student-Centered Classroom at ASCD.

Another possible event is Teachers First OK2Ask webinar on 10/4 at 4 PM Pacfic — Chrome Extensions. See this and upcoming events — register here.
Or view the CE calendar here for more choices for connecting.

Maybe you’ll just start your Twitter account and follow the above hashtags — just looking at the tweets and starting to follow teachers in your grade or subject. That would be an awesome way to start. Or choose a chat related to your interest. [See Edudemic’s Guide to Twitter or this Live Binder]

Why? Because the world is connected. Your students are connected. Being connected makes you relevant.

The amazing thing about connected educators is this: it doesn’t matter your degree or position, everyone has a voice.

You become online friends with those you constantly interact with to better your teaching to better the instruction that betters student learning.

You get to know and ask questions of Troy, Mark, George, Kevin, Lucy Gray, Shelly Terrell, Alec Couros, Matt Miller, etc.

You may even collaborate and co-create instructional material for others. Look at my friends Gallit and Denise, who now have published a book on Genius Hour. Denise and I finally met after years of blogging and tweeting together to better our teaching of writing — and we even [without meeting face to face, just tweeting and Google Slides] presented for Connected Educator 2012 —  she made a trip to meet up. It was awesome.

And your teaching strategies will grow. Why? Because connectedness flattens the world: we all have the opportunity and the voice to share good ideas for learners.

And guess what? Even if I were still teaching, I’d be doing those three things and more: #4TDW, #IMMOOC, book review. Because they help me teach in the way students today want to learn, and I refuse to be irrelevant. I will come away every day with a better idea to impact learning, to empower students in their learning tomorrow.

Everyone starts somewhere. Just start.  

Maybe you just want to know HOW to be a connected educator. How about reading and following the suggestions in the book The Relevant Educator: How Connectedness Empowers Learning by Tom Whitby and Steven W. Anderson [who started #edchat ]. There may even be spaces left for the Teachers First bookclub. Or we could form our own bookclub for the book in Google Plus or Twitter, just to support each other. Just comment below.

Here’s what two educational leaders say from the website about the book and connected learners:

“It is incumbent upon all educators to connect with other educators who can reignite their passion for teaching. The authors generously share their wisdom for those who want to accelerate the development of a personal learning network. “ 
Angela Maiers, Founder and President
Choose2Matter, Inc. and Maiers Education Services, Inc.

“Learn how and why educators must connect in order to truly be at the top of their game. This book gives practical advice on how to connect, engage, and grow as a learner.”
Adam Bellow, Corwin Author Untangling the Web

Lots of ideas and examples here and in the stream when you join Twitter. Be a connected educator, a connected learner.

Just start!

Where will you start, or what will you do if you already are, a connected educator?
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Sheri Edwards
Connected Innovator

Reflect curiosity and wonder…
Go boldly and scatter seeds of kindness…

More Information about Connected Learning

Musings on Innovation for #immooc

 

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What are some examples that you consider innovative?  How is it new and better than what previously existed?

An example of a change in practice that is innovative in the classroom and becoming more so is that of the commenting feature in Google Apps so that I can give ongoing, synchronous or asynchronous, feedback to students, and they can give feedback to each other. We can have an ongoing conversation that leads the student to their success in more ways than a simple objective. With Kaizena, I can even give voice feedback, although I’ve found the written feedback to be more effective.

In addition, students can use their voice in Google Docs to type their work, which is so beneficial to some students whose great ideas somehow cannot get from their brain through their fingers onto the paper.

In the past, I’d have to gather the documents on flash drives, a shared drive, or on paper, provide written or typed feedback and send it back. Not nearly the smooth process we now have using Google Classroom with Google Docs.

In my teaching, I’m always looking for ways to help each student be successful. For instance texts on the Mac can be read to students who may not be fluent enough to read more difficult text. They know to highlight the text, click command-option-escape, and listen to the text as often as they need to understand and come up with their own questions and understanding, in their Google Doc with voice. In the past, a partner or myself could read it to them– but now they are in control. In fact my students know how to use rewordify.com to paste in text and select an easier reading level.  I’m always asking, “What does this learner need?”

In thinking about Language Arts and the tools of communication, inquiry, collaboration, design, and publication, I also understand that my goals need to represent today and tomorrow — the evolving world of interconnectedness, analysis and curation of constant information, and development and publication of one’s own ideas. Therefore, our essential questions reflect those goals:

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And our tools support our learning: Google Apps for Education, Thinglink, Padlet, blogs and blog buddies. It’s not that we’re using the tools, but how we use them as publishers, editors, designers, authors that makes us — students and teachers — innovators.

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In my life, I’m still figuring out how to innovate what was my teaching career into some other avenue. I’ve continued my Twitter conversations and connections and still participate in things like #clmooc and #immooc. I am a forever learner.

What has changed in our world is our instant connectedness, which is a good and a bad thing. So it is necessary for our student to be discerning viewers and creators of content — to do so to better the world.  That’s a mantra to keep emphasizing — to better the world. Some of us have that as a gift, others are so traumatized that survival precludes them from thinking of others. So we must share how to innovate to get beyond survival to be in control and making things better for oneself and others — to do something amazing.

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If I were to design a school, I’d think about these:

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Based on Connected Learning theory [#clmooc]:

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By innovating with the tools to which we have access today, much of this we can accomplish as learner-centered experiences: interest-driven, peer-supported, shared purpose, production-centered, and openly networked to meet our personalized academic goals and essential questions for learners, today and tomorrow.

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In examining the eight characteristics of an innovator, I thought in terms of my students. How could we be innovators together?

I could ask them:  Imagine a world where you are in control, where you find creativity and contentment, passion and province, connections and community? Imagine this together. What would it look like? We can think of this journey, and prepare our minds to succeed:

Be an innovator, someone who believes that ability, intelligence, and talents are developed,leading to the creation of better ideas — a better world.

Let’s start asking ourselves these questions:

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I started that journey with my students with collaborative tools [GAFE and wikis], blogging, and student choice for their voice in a community of learners, and now I have a way to introduce them to an innovator’s vision of and mindset for the world.

How did you start your journey?  What questions did you ask?


Images:

Change by @gcouros #immooc

Quotes created with Notegraphy

Design A School by Sheri Edwards in Keynote

Innovator’s World in Keynote

Connected Learning theory

#IMMOOC Building Mindsets

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Kevin Hodgson created an #IMMOOC Innovative Mindset Google Plus Community for conversation, sharing, and collaboration about spreading this idea of Innovation, based on the book study mooc started by George Couros for his book,The Innovator’s Mindset .

Kevin challenged us to begin thinking of innovation, and to think of our ideas of innovation as an image.

That simple request forces us to step outside of our thinking, to see things in a new light. It reminded me of  my mom’s old book of puzzles. I loved it. My favorite puzzles consisted of simple sketches that suggested something. What do you think the above image is?

Unflattening the world has been part of my life – my mom could see beyond the obvious, and helped me look at the bigger picture. As a young mother rushed in front of us in the grocery line, mom would say, “She needs to get her back home for baby’s nap.” That might not have been true, but mom always took a step back to see a bigger idea and a step into the shoes of others.

Is the image a bear climbing a tree? A giraffe walking by your window? A snake slithering across your beach towel?

We need to step around to see. Turn things around, and get a different view. Try to think from another’s perspective. Believe in your own! And as Kevin asks of us, see things from another perspective.

I think that is part of innovation, especially with technology, because technology removes boundaries and barriers, bringing the possibility for all ideas to be shared, remixed, and repurposed, building on what worked, and often in collaboration with others, to find a better way towards an issue, strategy, or communication. Innovation builds on the ideas that went before and tweaks them, changes them, steps apart from them to better the world in which we live and work together.

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I tried to create that concept in my image as a response to Kevin’s challenge. I opened an iPhone app [NetSketch] and started drawing lines and shapes to represent ideas, the lighter colors the earlier ideas later connected and stretched in new ways, with the bolder colors leading the developed change, a forward flowing change kept as it bettered my [our] world with continued innovative developments.

You can see other people’s drawings here.

Imagine this in schools — it’s not an overnight occurrence, although some of the choices may be simple and easy to quickly innovate; it’s more than one thing — it’s something that becomes part of what you do daily . It’s part of a system of thinking, doing, and creating that is better than before.

To see an example of this, read Kevin’s post, “#IMMOOC Go and Find Out.” He shares the process of change in a project for middle school students, whose creations developed from paper to powerpoint to games over a period of years, as technology provided the possibilities for the innovation. Most impressive, as I found on the project website, is that the project focussed on all learners. Listen to the collaborating teachers explain how the gaming project helped struggling writers.

I think key to this innovation is the collaborative inquiry approach by these teachers. Had Kevin worked on this alone, fewer students would have been impacted, and the project would have probably stayed in his repertoire, rather than become a part of a larger change in the school or district.  Innovation cannot exist in isolation. Without a school culture of shared leadership and collaboration, I wonder if innovation can occur? Part of innovation is the building of ideas, sharing of ideas, and remixing of ideas, in collaboration with others to make a difference that’s better than before.

In Innovator’s Mindset on LOC 439 of 3535, Kindle Edition, I found a great chart. I searched and found it on Twitter:

It was part of #cpchat [Connected Principals chat] and #suptchat [Superintendents chat] and co-created by George and Bill Ferriter [@plugusin ]

Technology is a tool, not a leadership outcome.  ~George Couros

Principals and superintendents in these chats are leading change with technology as a tool to do so. Collaboration, reflection, and openness are key, and I think must be part of a goal of innovation. I hope our book study, blogs, and conversations help those of us in classrooms and in the community learn how to extend that leadership.

If you’re part of a school and are joining in this mindset journey, let your leaders know — your tech coordinators, principals, and superintendents. Share your ideas. Share your blog. Ask to share in staff meetings and to provide professional development. Get others involved. Help others make that mindset perspective leap. It’s a key aspect of innovative change.

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Unflattening Ideas from

my other blog

What Else:

#clmooc Unflattening

 

#IMMOOC Starts Soon Sign Up

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I can’t believe I’ve signed up for a MOOC again! But how can you not sign up for one by George Couros (@gcouros ) who has been an inspiration for myself and so many others. As a principal and blogger, he’s been at the forefront of education reform in the actions he’s taken for his students and their futures. His book, The Innovator’s Mindset, offers us a vision of schools where student compliance is replaced by student engagement. How? We teachers know, and the #IMMOOC will build a community to guide each other to make it happen in our schools for our students’ success in the future.

I’ve set up my inoreader (thanks to this post by George), have my Kindle book open, and am ready for the September 17th Opening Ceremony.

Why? I’ve participated in ETMOOC and CLMOOC (4 times!), and from both I’ve been enriched with friendships as well as knowledge in a spirit of hope for the future of education. I’m connected still to the people who shared their expertise, wrestled with issues, and collaboratively solved problems while learning together through innovation in our teaching and learning.

So I invite you to join — it will be an amazing journey, even if you only participate as a reader of the information. But you won’t — you will be inspired to participate, to ask questions, and to reflect on how you can apply the ideas in your own school. It’s that exciting and rewarding.

Go here: http://immooc.org/sign-up-for-the-innovatorsmindsetmooc/

Sign up.

You will be welcomed and provided with the info to join in the conversation.

Two things will be helpful: a blog [free, here ] and a twitter account.

Don’t panic.

A couple tips: Think of your name before you sign up for either.

Just use your name for twitter like George did.  That’s better than mine @grammasheri

[ I signed up years ago to monitor my granddaughter, hence the name].

For your blog, think of a name that reflects your educational experience or ideas.  My blog  has a URL https://askwhatelse.wordpress.com. I’m always asking myself and my students, “What else could I… include, research, choose, add, etc.” So that became my URL. The blog title is all about wonder, so I called it 1DR What Else.  When you click the link, that’s what will appear on the title. Choosing the name really is the hardest part!

When you sign up for your blog, you’ll be asked to choose a theme style:

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I would suggest the one on the left to start if you have never blogged before. You will then see a list of themes — start with the one named “Twenty Sixteen.” That’s the easiest one to start. And you can always ask for help. Just tweet me  @grammasheri .

Don’t panic.

Just get started: Twitter, Blog, Sign up for an experience you will treasure!

I can’t wait to read your ideas on your blogs!