As educational leaders we often seek out ways to encourage staff to consider what type of learners exist in their classrooms and figure out ways to tap into those different energies and approaches. How often do we consider how our staff approaches new learning? Even more important, how often do we consider our approaches to staff development and dialogue based on this approaches?
With some inspiration from @shellterrell and her Thirty Goals work I sent a short survey out to staff via our weekly memo. With the following infographic as a reference I asked the staff what kind of learner they thought they were most like.
Infographic from http://www.hongkiat.com/blog/type-of-learner-infographic/
The information that I received from my one question survey was extremely interesting and insightful.
- 4% of respondents identified themselves as auditory learners – tending to speak slowly, explaining things well, natural listeners, repeating things aloud, thinking linearly, reading slowly and preferring to hear, rather than read, information
- 12% of responsdents identified themselves as read and write leaners – learn and memorize things by writing and reading
- 32% of respondents identified themselves as kinesthetic learners – learning by doing and solving real-life problems, like hands-on approaches, can’t sit still for long, take breaks when studying
- 52% of respondents identified themselves as visual learners – tending to be fast talkers, learning by seeing charts and diagrams, needing quiet study time, may think in pictures, take detailed notes, like to sit at the front of the room
This simple survey sent via a Google form provided me with solid insight into how I might plan professional development differently for the staff at our school. Thanks for the idea @shellterrell!
image from gabrielweinberg.com
I’ve had a recent enlightenment…there are bloggers hidden among us! I know this probably isn’t anything astonishing for the majority of school leaders out there and I guess it isn’t for me either, it just became more evident to me recently.
As part of practice and communication, classroom newsletters have always made their way through the office for review and as a way to keep everyone updated as to what is happening each week. I read each so I have an understanding of what and how information is communicated to families. Many folks have classroom blogs or webpages that they use to update with information as well, but it tends to be mostly that…information (which is great, necessary and very well done). One of our teachers has been taking a different journey in her communications, which until recently have only lived in print.
Each week for the past couple years I’ve received these amazingly reflective and insightful newsletter pieces from one of our preschool teachers. The printed copies looked like something that would hang in a frame…with photos, word art, etc. More than that, the content was just incredible. This educator was taking risks, discussing organic learning moments, her own reflections of the experiences as an educator, how the students directed the learning…they read like novels. And each week printed copies would go home to the families in that room and they would likely do what I did with it…revel in it.
Then one day as I was discussing goals with this person it dawned on me…”I know what your goal should be!” I told her that she was already a blogger, she just didn’t know it yet. Not one to jump to the computerized world I could tell there was some apprehension; however, with support, encouragement of colleagues and willingness to take risks we have a new blogger in the world…actually she was always a blogger. A really great one!
The whole experience helped me realize how important and individualized our encouragement and support of those in our learning communities can and should be….something I will continue to try to do as much as possible.
The other day a colleague asked me to describe myself as a leader…and I struggled to do it articulately and have been thinking about it since! My very first response was that I was a learning leader, and I genuinely meant that. I'm of a mind that there isn't an end space to becoming a leader…that you never suddenly arrive and have it all figured out. Each year that I've been a principal I have moved and learned new facets of the role, beginning in more of the manager stance and moving toward instructional leadership. When I was describing myself as a leader I think that I continued to rattle off the thousand and one things that were circling in my head, but still having a rather difficult time articulating it.
I shared that I wanted people to know that I was working hard and that I would always be fair and open to ideas. These two things rank high in my value structure as a leader. No matter your point of view, no matter your opinions, as a leader I want you to know that I'm working hard to make things better. Why is this so important to me? This question kept popping up in my head throughout the weekend…the reality for me I think is that I feel the immensity of the job itself sometimes. There's so much I want to help with, so much I want to see happen and so much that I want to support…but I'm limited by reality, time and yes, people. Every comment, every frustration I encounter throughout the day in some manner reflects back to my leadership…at least that's how I feel it on some levels. So again, why is this so important to me? Because if any stakeholder in our educational community was frustrated with the course of something, or the lack of movement…I want them to look at me and know, “at least I know he's working on it.”
Hard working, open to ideas and a learner. I just described my dog. Is it possible that I define myself as a leader in such simple ways? Then it hit me…the question shouldn't have been about who I am as a leader, but instead it should have been about who I want to be as a leader! This question does two things…it will answer the first question because knowing where I want to go helps define who I am in the moment. The second thing it does is help define my values, hopes, dreams and needs.
I started to think about where I wanted to go as a leader. The following are taken from The Big Rocks; Priority Management for Principals and help define standards I hope to maintain as a Principal. These are the things I reach for everyday and in my own professional development:
a. I have a laserlike focus on student achievement and mystrategic plan for the year.
b. Staff members know exactly what is expected of them interms of classroom instruction and discipline.
c. I have an effective personal planning system for the year, themonth, the week, and the day.
d. all key teams (e.g., leadership, grade-level, SST) are scheduled to meet on a regular basis.
e. I have a foolproof system for writing things down, prioritizing,and following up.
f. I have highly competent people in key roles and delegatemaximum responsibility to them.
g. I visit 3–5 classrooms a day and give face-to-face feedbackto each teacher within 24 hours.
h. I have effective strategies for preventing or deflecting time-wasting crises and activities.
i. I take care of myself, including family, health, exercise, sleep,and vacations.
j. I regularly evaluate progress toward my goals and work oncontinuous improvement.
These help define my goals and standards, but do they address my values as a leader? For that, I guess, I just need to take some lessons from my dog.
As part of our inservice days #cesuvt staff reviewed and discussed the Common Core State Standard Math Practices. Below are my notes from the sessions.
Math Ccss Nov 19, 2012
Questions that I’m left with after this session include:
How do we involve parents in understanding the evolution involved in the CCSS?
How do we challenge some of the ingrained mathematical perceptions that exist in our students and families?
How can I support the educators in our school as they adapt and change their instructional strategies?
At Edcampvt and other Edcamps the day is capped by a “smackdown” session where participants have the chance to share, in one or two minutes, a new tool, idea or something of interest. Each time I've been at one of these I've walked away with some awesome ideas or learned about something new like http://www.backyardbrains.com/Home.aspx shared by @enginerphill
During our “smackdown” session my brain seemed to be focussed on all that was shared rather than what I could share. It wasn't until this morning that I remembered what I should have shared! Evernote Clearly is a great tool that cleans up a website not only for an improved reading experience, but also for catologing in Evernote. That, however, isn't how it has been a powerful tool for me. I think educators would find this valuable as an easy way to clean up sites that you'd like to share with students, parents, staff or the community. Evernote clearly removes all the distractions that pop up on a page and simply presents the text itself. You can even manipulate the size and style of the text to a certain degree. I use this when I print articles for the bulletin board or to share with staff, when I'm sharing information with students on a site that might have advertizing and in general when I want a less distracting reading experience. It simply installs into your browser and is ready to go at a click's notice!
I'd like to take a moment and acknowledge @vtprincipal @betavt and @fliegs for constantly supporting high quality educational conversations in Vermont and cyberspace! I had the opportunity to attend my second Edcampvt yesterday and walked away with my mind spinning once again. To folks who have not been able to attend an Edcamp I highly encourage you to attend future offerings (there's one coming up in March!). To superintendents and principals I personally invite you to attend. These conversations are some of the most insightful and thought provoking professional development and inspiration that you can come across!
@vtprincipal @betavt and @fliegs are also promoting a new hashtag for Vermont education #vted Tune in!
For more information about Edcampvt check out: