I fell upon this video by Tony Sinanis and his students. I was inspired by the way they decided to deliver a message to their school community and ultimately to the world.
Here are some things that I loved about this.
1. You are watching the principal immersed with his students using digital technologies. This reminds me of Chris Kennedy’s notion of “elbows deep in learning” with your community. Kudos to Tony for what he is modelling to his community.
2. Many people don’t feel the same connection to schools through “newsletters” as they would a video like this. If we really want to “humanize” our schools, video is a great way to do this. I felt a totally different connection to this video, seeing students, than I would reading a message from the principal only.
3. Instead of making a private link, Tony has shared this with the world. It is not only awesome to give kids an authentic, global audience, but it also is spurring ideas in others. I watched this with a group of principals and many in the room wanted to do something similar after watching. Tony’s students are inspiring others to action.
So…how are you sharing your school’s story and who is involved?
From a conversation with a good friend and colleague, and reading this article, I have been thinking about the role of the story in our organizations.
Here are some questions for you to consider:
What is the story that you are trying to create or are creating? What is your “why” and how are you making it happen?
If you can you answer these questions, is it succinct? Is it easy to understand? Does it make sense to people both in and out of your organization? If you can tell me the story of your school, can others?
The story is about a larger ambition to make the world or people’s lives better
The story is understood and cared about by senior leadership outside of marketing
That story is being used to drive tangible action throughout the company: product development, HR policies, compensation, etc.
These actions add back up to a cohesive whole
Customers and partners are motivated to engage with the story and are actively using it to advance their own stories
Now although the focus is business related, it definitely can be used in the context of school. Both the elements of telling and creating your story are imperative, but one does not come before the other. They continuously feed one another.
For example, your story and narrative grows over time as it should in any organization. Blockbuster’s story did not change and they have no story at all. Yet words without actions mean nothing. If you tell a story that is false, that will simply lose the faith of those that you serve. Creating that story then leads to telling your story. The more you tell your story, the more you are accountable to creating it. It goes round and round and round.
Sometimes the story of the “organization” starts in a single classroom, but the importance is that it starts. Sharing what is happening in one place in a compelling way, is how that story starts to spread. Having it spread, creates a stronger story. It grows and grows.
So tell your story, but don’t forget the accountability you have to continuously create it.
I have been on the road a considerable amount in the last month so I have decided to blog on stuff that has inspired me and write in a spontaneous manner so the “you should read…” post that I have tried to write on a weekly basis has been something that I have skipped in the last couple of weeks. I still think that it is important to share what I have been catching on Twitter and learning from others.
“We’ve always done it this way thinking.” In public education, I have found this kind of thinking the most common. You can easily run up against this thinking by simply questioning a policy or procedure, or by suggesting a new way of doing something….The best antidote for this kind of thinking? Asking the simple “Why” question. If the answer is, “Because we’ve always done it this way,” then the underlying rationale might be suspect..
Many people will read this and think of someone they should send it to. Administrators may blame teachers, teachers blame administrators, schools blame government, etc., and so on and so forth. I truly believe that we should look at ourselves first, especially in this context and ask what are embodying to others and giving “solutions” as John offers, as opposed to simply discuss problems.
I tweeted the below in a discussion and I believe it is essential to school transformation:
@ebertsr I think if you really want to make change, it is not top down or bottom up.It is all hands on deck. #whatisbestforkids
The more I connect with educators, the more I am loving that they are seeing that they are part of the solution.
2. Why Kids Need School to Change – A fantastic article discussing the importance of what we do in our schools and the need to change in our current environment.
The current structure of the school day is obsolete, most would agree. Created during the Industrial Age, the assembly line system we have in place now has little relevance to what we know kids actually need to thrive.
Most of us know this, and yet making room for the huge shift in the system that’s necessary has been difficult, if not impossible because of fear of the unknown, says educator Madeline Levine, author of Teach Your Children Well.
“People don’t like change, especially in times of great uncertainty,” she said. “People naturally go conservative and buckle down and don’t want to try something new. There are schools that are trying to do things differently, and although on the one hand they’re heralded as having terrific vision, they’re still seen as experimental.”
The author offers the idea of “project based learning, alternative assessment, scheduling, climate of care, and parent education” as ways to improving school. What would you suggest regarding these ideas? What would you add or change?
3. 7 Basic Types of Stories – I am fascinated about the role of stories in the current context of schools and I love watching what organizations outside of education do to leverage this. You can easily take an hour to go through this post, but I think that there are some pretty engaging ideas. Does the following quote apply to schools?
“Brands are stories,” he said. “They want to embody a story. When we start working with a client, we don’t want to take a brief. We don’t want to just say, ‘What’s your problem?’ We want to go right back to, ‘Why was your company started? What’s your mission?’ We talk about mission all the time, and it’s just another way of saying, ‘What kind of story are you on? What kind of story do you want to tell?’ … Part of our job as an agency is to reignite that and really figure out what that story is.”
I would love your thoughts so I can further my own learning in this area.
BONUS –> Just as something that I would like to share as one of those videos that makes me smile every single time I see it, I thought that I would share this video from “The Flight of the Conchords” which is guaranteed to make you smile (I will buy you ice cream if it doesn’t). You can also get the karaoke version of the song if you want to sing it with your kids