Author Archives: George

Simple Words

I love seeing the different things shared at “opening days” for schools and districts. I have learned so much from experiencing this and it is a great opportunity for people not only to connect, but also set a tone for the year and hopefully fuel inspiration.

Today as I sat and observed opening day in Mcalester, Oklahoma, I was inspired by the “vision” that set the background for the year, that shows schools shifting in a much more “empowered” direction.

What I have also noticed more now than ever, is districts are tapping into the power of student voice to kick off the year.  Who better to set the tone for what we do in a school year than the people we are ultimately there for.  I have seen this more and more, and am always inspired, but today, the young lady that addressed her teachers was so unbelievably inspiring.

What really resonated with me, was her openly emotional speech sharing the impact of her teachers. Within moments, her passion brought me to tears and created such an excitement within me for our future as I could see it so brightly in this student. She talked about how her teachers empowered her to be the leader she is today, so that she can continue to be a leader in the future.

The simple tweet I shared above, followed by my own comments to the entire audience about how inspiring her and her peers were, was a simple acknowledgment of how powerful her words were.  I never thought much of it, because I just said what I felt.  But by the end of my talk, a teacher had approached me, and profusely thanked me for my comments on her daughter (I had no idea her mom was there), telling me that they had experienced a tough year and that it truly meant a lot.  She was very emotional and extremely grateful for my kind words.

It was yet another reminder, that if we have the opportunity to say something kind and sincere, we should, always.  You never know what simple words you share, can mean the entire world to someone else, whether it is a student, a colleague, a family member, or anyone. One moment can sometimes make all of the difference.

Change Agent vs. Change Advocate

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In 2013, I wrote an article about the “5 Characteristics of a Change Agent”, with the characteristics and descriptions below:

1.  Clear Vision – A “change agent” does not have to be the person in authority, but they do however have to have a clear vision and be able to communicate that clearly with others.  Where people can be frustrated is if they feel that someone is all over the place on what they see as important and tend to change their vision often.  This will scare away others as they are not sure when they are on a sinking ship and start to looking for ways out.  It is essential to note that a clear vision does not mean that there is one way to do things; in fact, it is essential to tap into the strengths of the people you work with and help them see that there are many ways to work toward a common purpose.

2. Patient yet persistent – Change does not happen overnight and most people know that.  To have sustainable change that is meaningful to people, it is something that they will have to embrace and see importance.  Most people need to experience something before they really understand that, and that is especially true in schools.  With that being said, many can get frustrated that change does not happen fast enough and they tend to push people further away from the vision, then closer.  The persistence comes in that you will take opportunities to help people get a step closer often when they are ready, not just giving up on them after the first try.  I have said continuously that schools have to move people from their point ‘A’ to their point ‘B’not have everyone move at the same pace. Every step forward is a step closer to a goal; change agents just help to make sure that people are moving ahead.

3. Asks tough questions – It would be easy for someone to come in and tell you how things should be, but again that is someone else’s solution.  When that solution is someone else’s, there is no accountability to see it through.  It is when people feel an emotional connection to something is when they will truly move ahead.  Asking questions focusing on, “What is best for kids?”, and helping people come to their own conclusions based on their experience is when you will see people have ownership in what they are doing.  Keep asking questions to help people think, don’t alleviate that by telling them what to do.

4.  Knowledgeable and leads by example – Stephen Covey talked about the notion that leaders have “character and credibility”; they are not just seen as good people but that they are also knowledgeable in what they are speaking about.  Too many times, educators feel like their administrators have “lost touch” with what is happening in the classroom, and many times they are right.  Someone who stays active in not necessarily teaching, but active in learning and working with learners and can show by example what learning can look like now will have much more credibility with others.  If you want to create “change”, you have to not only be able to articulate what that looks like, but show it to others. I have sat frustrated often listening to many talk about “how kids learn today” but upon closer look, the same speakers do not put themselves in the situation where they are actually immersing themselves in that type of learning.  How can you really know how “kids learn” or if something works if you have never experienced it?

5. Strong relationships built on trust – All of the above, means nothing if you do not have solid relationships with the people that you serve.  People will not want to grow if they do not trust the person that is pushing the change.  The change agents I have seen are extremely approachable and reliable.  You should never be afraid to approach that individual based on their “authority” and usually  they will go out of their way to connect with you.

What is most important about all of these characteristics, is the last point on relationships.  There is a difference between a “change agent” and a “change advocate”.  If you hold the first four qualities on this list only, you are someone advocating for change, but not necessarily making it happen.  All the vision and knowledge in the world means nothing if we are not able to connect with others; it is the equivalent of shouting into the wind.  Having the fifth quality focused on relationships, is what makes someone a “change agent”.  The only way to help people move forward is by building relationships and understanding where their journey begins, not focusing solely on where you want them to be.

Why I focus on #DigitalLeadership Instead of Cyberbullying

When we constantly talk to kids about cyberbullying, what ideas are we putting into their heads? We have a constant focus on “here is what you can’t do”” as opposed to here is what you can do?

For years, I have been writing about the concept of Digital Leadership, and shared this definition in 2013:

Using the vast reach of technology (especially the use of social media) to improve the lives, well-being, and circumstances of others.

This little video reminds us how small actions can not only improve the lives of others, but they can easily spread.  That influence on others is a powerful trait of leadership, and something we should focus on when talking to our students.  It is not about what we can’t do, but more importantly, what we can. This belief in ourselves and our students can make all of the difference.

The “Basics” and Innovation

I heard a story once that really resonated with me (I will share it as best as I can from memory), in where an artist is creating art on the street, and a person walks by and wants a picture drawn of themselves.  The artist shares the price of fifty dollars to the patron, to which they agree, and so they start to draw.  Ten minutes later, the artist completes the beautiful piece that is so amazingly creative.  Even though the patron is very happy with the creativity and the high quality of the piece, they challenge the cost of fifty dollars, believing that something that took such a short time to create should not have the high price tag.  The artist responded, it took me ten years to be able to do it in ten minutes; much of the work that I have done to be able to draw this picture so quickly, you have never seen.

This story really resonated with me as I was reading article after article tonight about the battle between the “basics” versus “innovation” in education.  It seems that you may be on one side or the other, but here I lie in the middle.  To be able to be innovative in any area, there often needs to be a fundamental understanding of basic concepts.  To be a great musician, at some point, you would have had to learn some basic concepts of music.  The speed that you may have learned them in can vary from person to person, but you learn them.  The best writers in the world at some point learned how to read and write.  There are always exceptions to the rule, and I am sure that the real life Matt Damon from the movie “Good Will Hunting” exists, but this is not the norm.

I believe that the “basics” in many areas are still important in our world, and maybe sometimes I guess that is an assumed notion. But I also think that many students didn’t learn the “basics” in the way they were taught when I went to school.  I think about those students and then how we have access to so much information in our world from educators, parents, students, and communities, that the opportunities to help as many kids as possible is something that we need to access and capitalize upon.  But I also think about my own experience in school, and even though in grades one to probably around grade seven, my marks were usually in the top three of all students in my classroom, yet I never felt smart enough because I wasn’t ever number one.  Being ranked in school continuously led me to the Ricky Bobby belief that “if you’re not first, you’re last”, and I kind of mailed it in for the rest of the time as my student, was barely accepted in university, and struggled academically for years.  I knew the basics but never really saw myself becoming anything.  I never saw myself as a writer, a mathematician, a scientist, or anything academic.  And do you know why I went to university?  Because my parents made me go.  Not because I had an epiphany when I was six years old that I was going to be a teacher and did everything to get to that point.  My parents expected me to go to university so I did, and after four years of floating around, I then decided to go into education.  I took six years to get a four year degree.

So why did I do well in my first years of school? To please my teachers.

Why did I get through university? To please my parents.

And why did I become a teacher? Because I didn’t really know what else to do.

At about the age of 31, was the first time I identified myself as an educator not by profession, but by passion.  That took someone tapping into my strengths and interests, and helping me see those things in myself.

At about age 35 is when I first viewed myself as truly a learner. And now five years later, I am starting to see myself as a writer.  In eighteen years of school as a student, writing paper after paper, I never once saw myself as a writer, but at the age of 35 where I felt I could finally explore my own passions, did I even start to really go deep into my own learning.  And after almost 1000 posts am I starting to see myself as a writer.  I am thankful that I have found a love for what I do, and I do not see it as a “job” but as part of my being.  That is a beautiful thing.

Did my experience of school help me get here?  Absolutely, and I am thankful to so many teachers who spent so much time helping me to create the opportunities that I have today.  Without those “basics”, that were not only reinforced in my education, but also at home, amongst a myriad of other factors, I would not be doing what I am doing today.  The question I have though is why didn’t I see myself as those things earlier? More importantly, as an educator, how do I help students see themselves in that light as well.  Believe me, as someone who believes powerfully in the notion of “innovation in education”, I still cringe at spelling mistakes.  I hate them.  I would love kids to be able to know their times tables, not simply discount them as something a calculator will do for them.  But here is the thing…You might know how to read and write, but that doesn’t make a you writer.  If you are a writer though, you know how to read and write; that’s a given.

As I think about the next time someone challenges me with the question, “what about the basics?”, my thought is that there are so many educators that not only want that for our students, but so much more.  My parents came to Canada not to provide the same opportunities that they had back in Greece, but to create something better.  That is my drive as an educator; to create a better version of school than what I experienced.  It is not that I think less of my own  teachers as a student, but that I want to build on what they have done.  My hope is that the future teachers of the world will not recreate what this generation has done, but make something so much better.  Is that not our wish for each generation? To do better than what we have done?

What made the artist spend ten years to be able to draw the picture in ten minutes?  It was not only practicing the basics, but at some point, they were inspired and saw themselves as an artist. Hopefully schools can be a part of that spark.

3 Questions To Help Measure School “Success”

3 questions to Measure School -Success-

Yesterday I had a great conversation with a school district administrator about how we measure “student success”.  As I thought about this, one of the ideas that lingered in my mind is the difference between measuring student success, or measuring the impact of school and our organizations on success.

But then there is the word “success”.  What does being successful mean?  Many schools will share statistics regarding how many of their students go on to post-secondary, but if a student has a college degree but is unhappy, compared to a student that didn’t go to college and is, do we deem that a success?  The other part of this is what role did school play in this?  We state there are many factors outside of school that play in the success of a child, so would school be the sole reason a student goes to university?

The success of a school should not only be measured by what students do when they are there, but their impact on what they do after they leave.  We also have to realize that the word “success” is not necessarily one that we can define for our students.  As discussed with my colleagues, their impact on society also has to be a part of this.  You can make a lot of money, be happy, or both, but are you a positive contributing member of the community?  Again, this is not necessarily for a school to determine, but could be looked through the lens of the student.

As a survey to students after they leave school, here are three questions we could ask them to determine how we have done as schools, whether it is 1 to 100 years after the fact.

1. Do you consider yourself as a successful, contributing member to society?

2. Why did you give the answer above?

3. What impact do you think school had on your answers?

The answers will not be in nice and neat little packages, but they would tell us a lot about what our schools are doing.  These three questions would not only give us some powerful data, but the shortness of this survey leaves it more likely to be answered while compiling some powerful quantitative data.

These questions could be a good start, but I would love your thoughts.  How would we measure our impact on student success after they leave our schools? What questions would you ask?

P.S. This video below REALLY challenged my thinking on what being “successful” means. It would be a great video to discuss with staff and students and what schools are trying to do. Are we trying to replicate the same world we live in, or help our students to create something better?

Educator = Trajectory Changer

I have been thinking a lot about the word “trajectory” and it’s relevance to what we do in education.  Every interaction we have with so many, changes trajectory in some way, similar to the idea of the “butterfly effect”.  As someone who speaks, I think about this a lot and what I hope happens in my talks.  I hope for a positive upward change from those interactions that we have in workshops or talks, and that someone does something better after our encounter.  This can be a tricky thing when we want to push someone’s thinking.  Their is a fine balance between challenging someone while also still showing that you value their thoughts as well as their journey.  Sometimes our actions, wrong words, or phrasing might push someone into the negative, even though that was never the intention.  My hope is that I can do everything I can to change trajectories for the positive.  Sometimes it might be a blip, sometimes it could be a large leap, but as long as it is positive, I am happy.

I think about how educators are these trajectory changers.  How those daily interactions may not always lead to a positive, but overall, the best educators make an impact on students long after their time in their classrooms.  I remember so many teachers that I have had that made such a positive impact on me, and sometimes, it was after the fact, thinking about what they had done to go out of their way for me but I did not realize until I grew up.  Sometimes the impact is not instant, but it eventually comes.  Educators are trajectory changes, always. The only thing that matters is whether or not that change is positive or negative.

You could say this is of any profession, but in education, our impact on a daily basis with so many, alters their destination which can alter so many others.  My good friend Holly Clark, recently shared an email that she received from a participant at a conference after speaking in South Africa:

Hi Holly,

I had to sit and type you a quick email to tell you how excited I am about changes I have made in my class.

I attended the ICT conference in Kloof (KwaZulu Natal, South Africa) at the beginning of the school holidays. I actually attended two of your workshops and listened really carefully to your keynote address.

Although we are a “tablet/device” school, I was noticing that our girls were choosing to leave their devices at home, as they weren’t using them at school. Which is SO sad and frustrating! Many teachers battle to integrate the devices, and I think that I have had a light bulb moment when I say it isn’t about the APPS! It’s about finding a way of incorporating the technology to make it work for you.

I arrived back this term with a renewed energy. Firstly, I rearranged my desks and we now sit in groups, we engage and it is fantastic! New rule… devices on desks! When I teach – students may take notes and then we save to Google Drive! Google Drive has changed my life!!

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I have many girls using it! YAY!!! My Grade 9s have already submitted their brainstorming ideas into a shared Drive Folder and I am marking it from my PC. The excitement when they realised that I had received and looked at it was quite cute. At school we have a “library of devices” so girls who don’t have them can use ones I have in my classroom. These were gathering dust in a storeroom and not being used. Not anymore!

You cannot believe the energy and excitement in my classroom! A student commented today when she looking at my chart of apps we use in my class and said  “Finally a teacher who understands us and is allowing us to use our devices for learning!”

Attaching a few pics!

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Thank you so much for inspiring me!

Holly is one of the kindest, humblest , and most authentic people that I know, and what I was reminded of in this email is that educators don’t just teach stuff, but they connect with people.  It was not only the willingness of Holly to share information, but more importantly, how she did it.  This participant left feeling that they could change the world, and I guarantee they are for their students, because that is what great educators do.  Holly’s impact on him, will now impact so many students, who will impact so many others.  The ripple effect is endless.

You can be the smartest person in the world, but if we forget how we communicate and who we do this work for, it doesn’t matter what we know.  Great educators make a positive change in trajectory with so many others and I am proud to work with so many great people that do this every single day.

3 Questions to Drive Passion Based Learning

What will I learn?

What will I solve?

What will I create?

These three questions are ones that could create some amazing passion based learning opportunities for our students, and help shape them as learners as much or more than any curriculum could in the year.  They are not something that you only necessarily have to do answer only once in a year, but they will help to shape some of the learning that your students will create for themselves throughout the year.  I will go further into detail on each one.

1. What will I learn? 

Years ago, watching John Medina speak, the writer of “Brain Rules“, he shared the idea of the importance of content in learning.  He shared the analogy of learning to play the guitar and how basically not knowing how to play the chords would actually lead to simply mimicking playing the air guitar.  Our learning of knowledge is important for us to create from it.  You may know how to play the chords, but eventually creating music could be the goal.  What is important in this process is having the opportunity to learn something that you are interested in.

In Josh Kaufman’s talk on “The First 20 Hours to Learn Anything“, he talks about how we can learn basically how to do anything within 20 hours.  You might not be at the top of your field as shared in the notion of “10,000 hours”, (although if you google “10,000 hours” you will find that this might be a myth), but you will have a good understanding of this.  a “20 hour project”, could be something where students have the opportunity to learn something that they are interested in, without the pressure of solving the world’s problems.  Content is much more engaging to explore when we are actually interested in the topic.

Things that students will need to consider in this opportunity is not only where they will find information but who will teach them? This could give students the opportunity to learn to network and connect with others to help share ideas that they want to learn about.  This could create some very powerful learning opportunities for our students.

 

2. What will I solve?

Ewan McIntosh’s thoughts on “Problem Finders” has long been pushing my thinking not only for education, but innovation.  In his post, he shares the following idea on the topic:

Currently, the world’s education systems are crazy about problem-based learning, but they’re obsessed with the wrong bit of it. While everyone looks at how we could help young people become better problem-solvers, we’re not thinking how we could create a generation of problem finders.

Thinking about this, students could look at problems that they can find within the school, local, or even global community, and share how they have solved it.  Sharing ideas such as “capstone projects”, where students pose a problem that they are trying to solve and then share how they learned it, could be a powerful way to really influence not only innovation and entrepreneurship in our students, but also help them to develop empathy for others.  Whey they have the chance to try and see problems from the perspective of others, that does not help them develop as learners, but also as better people.

3. What will I create?

Will Richardson shared a quote from Gary Stager regarding “making across the curriculum“:

“When school leaders tell me “our school is building a $25 million Makerspace,” I am concerned that Makerspaces may exacerbate educational iniquity. While there are expensive pieces of hardware that may need to be secured, I want the bulk of making to permeate every corner of a school building and every minute of the school day. Teachers whose Makerspace is in a few cardboard boxes are doing brilliant work. Making across the curriculum means students as novelists, mathematicians, historians, composers, artists, engineers–rather than being the recipient of instruction.” Gary Stager

With this in mind, students should have the opportunity to create something of interest to them, and share that process.  This could be in any field, whether it is inventing a process or product, composing music, developing a health initiative, or writing a novel.  This is an opportunity for a student to develop the “Innovator’s Mindset“, and go much deeper than learning, but going to where the magic happens in creation.

If we embraced and worked with our students on these three questions, it would be amazing to watch them develop as learners.  What would be crucial in all three of these questions is the opportunity to constantly reflect on each one throughout the year and have opportunities to create documentation which would not only create evidence of learning, but show growth over time. This could be done through audio, video, written, or whatever the student felt comfortable with, but there would definitely be a benefit in the reflections being accessible to more than simply the teacher.

There would be lots of logistics in creating opportunities for these three opportunities to come to life, and as educators, that it is why it is imperative to be innovators ourselves. We will have to take what we work with, and create opportunities for our students where learning is truly meaningful and powerful for them; great teachers find a way.

Three Questions To Drive Passion Based Learning

Sometimes We Just Need To Ask

What’s your dream job? Have you ever been asked?

As a principal and vice principal, nearing the end of every year, when when our leadership team would look at staffing, we would send out an email to all staff and ask them, “As we are currently undergoing staffing, we were wondering if you could describe your dream position next year, what would it be?”  Obviously, there was only so much we could do if you said astronaut or reality tv personality, but in the context of the school, we wondered what opportunities could we create.

What was important in asking this question, was simply, asking the question.  We could not guarantee that we could create the job that you wanted, but if we encouraged people to share what they had dreamed of doing, maybe we could?  As an elementary principal, I remember one teacher saying that although they loved working with grade five students, they would really like to work with kindergarten or grade one students.  The crazy thing was we had a grade one teacher, that wanted to work with our older students.  A simple swap was made, and both did amazing at their jobs, and unbelievably grateful for the opportunity.

Another teacher shared how much he loved teaching one subject and wasn’t too passionate about the other.  They loved working with students but really wanted to be passionate about the subjects they taught.  A couple of adjustments and it was done!

I also remember our grade two teacher at the time saying, “My dream job is teaching grade two and I get to live it every single day, but I just want to tell you how much I appreciate you asking in the first place.”

Giving people the opportunities to try something new or pursue something they love is not something we should only value for our students, but also our staff.  Sometimes people are afraid to share what they want because they didn’t even know it was a possibility in the first place. The way we saw it, was that if we can move people into positions where they feel most passionate about what they are doing, they are more likely to be successful as individuals, elevating the organization as a whole.  What was surprising was how many times we could actually accommodate the requests.

I wouldn’t have known that in the first place, and that is why we asked.

Learning and Leadership

In the day of any conference, the conversations are fast and furious, and I can sometimes get overwhelmed by so much flying at me at once.  I do my best to spend time connecting with people, but sometimes the conversations that are had don’t stick with me at first, but resonate with me after I have had some time to decompress.

One of the things that has stuck with me from one event, was a person in an administrative position, approaching me and saying, “after I listened to you and thought about what you were saying, I realized, I am the barrier that is holding us back.”  I am not sure what her position was, but I was amazed by the honesty of her reflection.  She also shared that she did not want to be that person anymore, and was going to try and create different opportunities for those that she served.  It was a humbling conversation that has really been stuck in my brain.  I honestly can’t stop thinking about it because of the courage that she had in sharing that or even being able to say it out loud.

Something I have been saying lately in some conversations I have been having is the following:

“There are people in this room, no matter how compelling of evidence or ideas that I have shared, or the experiences that I have tried to create, will do nothing different tomorrow.  Are you that person?”

It is a comment meant to challenge and push people out of their comfort zone, while also imploring them to reflect on their learning.  I have learned that ideas and my own thinking changes over time, and by being open to challenge and growth in my learning, is how I model what I hope to see in others.  I am never expecting someone to do exactly what I have shared or even not challenge my thoughts, but I am hoping they take action and ownership on how they can move forward.

But with that being said, I am hoping that people not only think about what they have learned, but also how their learning impacts others.  Every single person involved in education is in some type of leadership position in the way that we serve the needs of others, whether it is students or adults, and our willingness or lack thereof to grow, impacts not only ourselves, but others.  This one administrator reminded me of that in her brave way she shared her self-realization.  The willingness to be able to reflect and to identify how your actions and growth are affecting others, is a powerful trait of a leader who wants to make a difference.

“In education, our learning not only impacts our own growth, but the growth of others that we serve.”

 

Understanding and Removing Barriers

Grant Wiggins, a visionary education reformer who has made a tremendous impact now and will continue to do so even after his recent passing, and was one of the developers of “Understanding by Design” (with Jay McTighe), shared a powerful “guest” blog post of a learning coach mirroring two students for a day each in her school (it was later acknowledged to be written by Alexis Wiggins).  Here was the initial plan for the process from Alexis:

As part of getting my feet wet, my principal suggested I “be” a student for two days: I was to shadow and complete all the work of a 10th grade student on one day and to do the same for a 12th grade student on another day. My task was to do everything the student was supposed to do: if there was lecture or notes on the board, I copied them as fast I could into my notebook. If there was a Chemistry lab, I did it with my host student. If there was a test, I took it (I passed the Spanish one, but I am certain I failed the business one).

The post was telling as it shared how much Alexis struggled through the process of “being a student”, and it led her to the following three key takeaways:

    1. Students sit all day, and sitting is exhausting.
    2. High School students are sitting passively and listening during approximately 90% of their classes.
    3. You feel a little bit like a nuisance all day long.

Now the point of sharing this is not to challenge the ideas that she shared (as this is from the perspective of her school at the time), but to think about the process.  This is not the norm for many students in schools around the world, but as leaders, how do we know this?  Do we often make assumptions in what is happening in our school, or do we actually experience something different?  One of the toughest groups to teach in the world is other teachers, and to go from that viewpoint, some of the expectations we have on our students, is not something we could handle for an hour, let alone, a full day.  The one quote from the blog post that really resonated for me, was when the student was asked about her perspective in class:

I asked my tenth-grade host, Cindy, if she felt like she made important contributions to class or if, when she was absent, the class missed out on the benefit of her knowledge or contributions, and she laughed and said no.

I was struck by this takeaway in particular because it made me realize how little autonomy students have, and how little of their learning they are directing or choosing.

Can you imagine going to a place every day where you felt your voice didn’t matter?  That part shook me.

The power of this post was not only in what was written by the author, but also the comments (there were 285 as of the time that I referenced this article and probably they will continue to receive more), that came from a variety of people, including students and educators.  The comments had a range of stories shared from personal experiences as a student, and struggles to accommodate something different as a teacher.  The reality of the learning environments that happen in our classrooms, are that they are not only created by the teacher, but the entire school.  If this is what school looks like for our students, what are we doing as leaders to help support to create something new?

The Impact of Our Decisions

One of my own thoughts as a central office administrator, was to be in our schools as much as often, to support our educators.  If you really love education, this can never happen enough, but I saw this as crucial to the work I was doing.  If my decisions had an impact on classrooms, then I better experience and see the impact of those decisions.

What I would often do is take my laptop and sit in a classroom in a school for anywhere between three to six hours, where I would get to the point that the teachers and students did not even notice I was there.  That way I could really see what their experiences looked like.  What I struggle with in our mobile world, is how reluctant we are to take our computers as leaders and do some of the administrative work in our classrooms?  I could answer my email a lot faster in my quiet office, but there are so many reasons why I would rather do it in the classroom.

What needs to be clear in this process is that I was not there to evaluate the teachers.  In fact, it was more to evaluate the environment that was created by the school district.  What I had noticed is how much “other stuff” teachers had to do, to make things work.  Whether it was going through an arduous logon process with students, or constant issues with WiFi, they looked less like teachers, and more like magicians.  From an IT department perspective, Internet is often “fast” and the logon process is quick, but times that by 20-30 students in a classroom (if you are lucky), and you have many frustrated educators that go above and beyond to create powerful learning opportunities for our students.

If we want “innovation” to happen in our schools, we have to be willing to sit in the environments where it is going to happen, and be able to not only discuss teaching and learning, but also do everything in our power to remove barriers from those that we serve.  One of the things that I have noticed in education is that we do not need “managers”, but we need “leaders”.

The truth is we need both.

We need leaders to have a vision of where we can go in our schools, but the “management” part is about making sure we have what we need to get there.  Stephen Covey (paraphrased) said that we manage things, but we lead people.  The educators that we serve, need the “things” to work if we truly want to create a “culture of innovation”, and support in creating an environment that we would truly want to be in as a learner ourselves.