Thursday, August 5, 2010

Keeping Momentum Amidst Change

I have been attending School Administrators of Iowa (SAI) conference this week and I feel so pumped and positive for the upcoming school year. I heard great speakers like Alan November and David Warlick talk about changing education and I was nodding my head the whole time. How exciting! And I got to share this with other passionate administrators who are a part of my Personal Learning Network (PLN). I am excited; I am ready; I am wanting to make it happen... and then I think, how will I feel in a month's time when the start-of-the-year stress is at a high, or when there is the first of many hiccups in our planning, or when my thick skin is tested? How do I help others keep up the momentum and positive energy when real life hits us?

Here's one thing I am going to try: I am going to list the phrases and quotes that really mean something to me on a bulletin board in office. Nothing fancy, but big enough that I can see them and hold myself accountable for living them. Those on my list so far include:

"When do we lose the gumption to try and fail or to take risks and be wrong?" - Sir Ken Robinson
You can't lead anonymously others may learn - Sarah Brown Wessling
Who owns the learning? In great schools, kids own it. - Alan November
It’s okay to be where you are, but it’s not okay to stay there.
Communication happens when what is said is what is heard and understood
Never waste a crisis - Michael Horn
Improving is work that is never done
We are all learners

So I reach out to you, my learning network, colleagues, and friends. How do you keep the momentum and stay positive amidst change?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Blame it on Compliance

Do you remember when your parents would tell you the reason to do or not do something was, "Because I said so!"? It would work, but it wasn't always the most effective way to get me to change my behavior (especially when my parents' back was turned).

I'm reminded of this as I was preparing for a panel discussion I am taking part in today at School Administrators of Iowa (SAI) conference. We are discussing how we are implementing the state mandated Iowa Core. One of the questions I've been encouraged to address is how we at Van Meter have dealt with the resistance to change. As I got thinking about this, I realized this is a big reality to deal with for some. So, my response will be short and sweet: We don't do it by saying, "Because the state said so." We connect it with our district vision and communicate why we are doing what we are doing. If we only did things for compliance, then our district would be in upheaval every election, every retirement at the Department of Education, and everytime the words "common core" were mentioned.

Compliance is not the way to make change happen. Shared leadership. communication, focusing on learning, creating meaningful professional development, removing isolation and providing teachers time to collaborate are all parts of Van Meter's district instructional plan. For those of you in Iowa, you might recognize this as the Iowa Core.