Entries in change (2)

Sunday
Feb122012

Change Management

We've been involved in a lot of conversations around change management. More specifically the question of late is how do you create change? This "change" is typically followed by conversation about what "needs" to change. Do we need to change leadership? Attitude? Do we change our ideas; the way that we do things? I suppose the real question is how can we instill a culture of adaptability and flexibility in our environments. After all, what is change except the ability to be flexible, adaptable and instill a culture of learning...of growth...?

We have all endured change in our lives. Some of those changes are entirely out of our control. To age is to change. Time is about change too. There are always things that we cannot control in life. That's fine. We grow, we adapt, and hopefully through experience, we learn too. Once upon a time, this woman was a child. A child changed into a teen. A teen changed into a young woman. A young woman who changed well...you see where I am going. There was also a time that I would question everything about the way the world worked, why it worked a certain way...why it didn't change into another, different way. I like to think I still do.

One such experience was as an accounting manager for a pretty large corporation. In my early twenties, as a young, fairly inexperienced manager, I asked about some reports that I found myself working on late one night. The fact that I was extracting one number from one report and placing it manually into another bothered me. It wasn't that working until midnight wasn't appealing - after all everyone had to pay their dues. However, what bothered me was that the fact that the numbers I was inputting came directly out of a report that had been computer generated. Why, if the numbers came out of a computer already, was I inputting them manually into another report? That seemed silly. After all, what I really needed to do was analyze the numbers, send them off to respective departments and get answers to questions I couldn't answer. Working until midnight even as a way to pay some dues when I knew the numbers were somewhere, hidden, in the mighty depths of the mainframe in Chicago was silly. So, despite confused looks about why I was questioning what to me seemed an easy fix, and the disagreements with IT (why couldn't the computer round I asked?) I finally received my reports. Oh but not without some difficulty!!! It couldn't be done they said. That's not the way we had done it in the past they claimed. So what was my answer? I deciphered code, taught myself some logic, and spent hours writing my own formulas to prove that it could be done. Of course my logic wasn't perfect but it got the point across. You best believe we created those reports, and got our rounding errors fixed, and did what people said couldn't be done because it hadn't been done that way before. 

I should've realized that my passion for making easy things easier to do in order to make it easier for the harder things to get done would drive me the rest of my life. Now, 20 years later, I find myself still questioning the why of "Why do we have to do things the old way?". Next time you have work to do and find yourself working all hours of the night to make things happen, sit back, think about what you are doing and find a way to make the easy things happen more easily. This way, you can concentrate on the things that really matter. That's the LogicWing way. We help you make the most of your technology so you can do what you do better.

 

 

Wednesday
Feb292012

Moving Along 21st Century Teachers

I recently a good article geared towards teachers. The premise was how do you know when you're ready to lead? Coincidentally, not long after, I was asked the same question. I make a living teaching and leading. It's what I do and what I love. Since much of my work is focused on helping teachers "understand" the bigger picture, I thought I'd share with you some of my thoughts on how to help people move forward:

  • Assessment - Self assessment is important, but take note from others too.  There's nothing wrong with admiting you're not perfect. In fact, it's those who are able to accept critical feedback from peers that continually move along in their development. It takes years to perfect some qualities of good teaching. How will you know what you don't know? To get better at something you need to understand what it is that you do well, and what you need improvement in. So it is simply not enough to ask yourself what you think YOU need help with; it's important to ask others that you trust to provide feedback too. Ask them to visit your classroom and watch you work. Visit theirs. Take notes; ask questions. Talk to their students; talk to yours. You can learn a lot from people if you just spend some time with them. Look around at your environment. Take note of your peers. Who do they interact with? How do others respond to them? Ask them to take video and replay your sessions together. Use a rubric to help you recognize patterns. A technology progression chart or rubric will provide a framework for conversation. Discuss. Listen.
  • Audience - Know your "students". Observe your students in different classrooms during the day and in different spaces. Take notes. Ask yourself, are the needs of most students being met? I like to ask myself, "Who is my most "interesting" child?" Interesting can be interpreted in many ways. How will I plan my lesson to ensure that child's needs are being met? This helps me think about ways to differentiate my lesson. It also helps me keep the work challenging and interesting enough to capture the most "interesting" child's interest.
  • Sensory - Everything that you can hear, touch, smell, taste and see will affect the learning environment for someone. What do you see, hear, touch, taste, as you observe lessons being delivered? Take note of how these sensory experiences may affect students. Perhaps they even affect you. Everything that affects the senses - the sounds you hear (it is noisy outside), acoustics of a room, (does the teacher need a speaker to be audible enough), visuals, (are visuals distracting or not attracting enough attention) will impact delivery of lessons. Are you teaching in the best possible environment? What can you do to change that? 
  • Design is important. What is my classroom layout? How does it support good teaching?   Even the way the desks are arranged make a difference in a classroom. If you want to work towards increasing collaboration and communication, take note of the way your chairs are arranged. Change the layout to make it easier to introduce groupwork. Is it easy for students to speak with each other? Are there also spaces for students to work independently? Does the layout support good learning for the cohort? I have had teachers move desks in between sessions to accommodate different cohorts of students in order to impact learning positively. Guess what? It works.
  • Creativity and Innovation - Think about what makes your class "different". You're ready to lead if you can truly say you live in this century and it shows. Ask yourself, "If I walked into my classroom today and I had a choice, would I stay?" What makes your classroom innovative? Is it the method of teaching? Engaging others from outside the school? Are students excited because they feel like they are part of the action. Learning is a verb. Your classroom should look like one.
  • Finally, define the terms. Speak with one voice. Every teacher should come to an understanding of 21st century skills that is equal to others. Use correct terminology. Don't confuse collaboration with cooperation. How do you define risk? Probe each other and fine tune your objectives. What areas of 21st century learning do you want to embrace?  

Finally, Build a Relationship. I always say that nothing can replace the building of a relationship with people. Discuss all you want with your fellow teachers but don't forget to listen. It's too easy to "suggest" something to them rather than try and work the lesson from the inside out so you will need to dedicate time to planning and redesigning lessons from scratch. Be fearless but also create a fear-free environment. You'll learn plenty along the way too.