Colin's Sandbox

#aktechplan Vision of Creative Leadership

by on Dec.08, 2013, under Technology Planning

I’m having a difficult time writing this week’s post.  I’m soon leaving my position at SERRC, one in which I’ve held for roughly 8 years, to focus on my graduate school work.  I think it’s the right call – but it throws in a snag, a writer’s block.  The various components we’ve studied in this course, from the first look at the technology plan, to the strategic plan, to examining your group’s professional development practices in greater detail, and so forth, these are all seen in a different light for me; more foreign perhaps.  There’s some areas where I go back and forth between negativity on one end balanced with the more objective “areas for improvement” on the other.  I’m hoping to feel more objective as I move through some writing this week.

I was going to stick with the pixton.com outlet for this week’s post but there’s just too much *stuff* that I saw as I went through the reading.  In order to overcome the writer’s block therefore, I turned to my tried and true standby, essentially an unordered bulleted list.

So, without further ado, a snapshot of my thoughts on creative leadership after this week’s reading (Robinson, chap 9-10):

Organizations as systems

Almost right off the bat the work of Frederick Taylor was mentioned at length in chapter 9 of Robinson.  Suddenly certain aspects of how enterprises are structured totally made sense to me, particularly the categorization of job positions, roles, managerial tasks.  It would seem there’s a naturally tendency for large (read stodgy) institutions to develop and refine this over time, particularly in long intervals between disruptive innovations.  I would claim that we need these disruptions to challenge us, provide us a sense of mission, a narrative to be a part of.  Hoo-rah!

Culture of learning

The example brought up of Pixar’s internal university was apt.  I really enjoyed that all employees are able to participate across the different options because the focus is for everyone to be a part of the movie making process.  I have had the pleasure of touring parts of the studio before and it is amazing.  A really neat art exhibit, large open spaces where people can work away from their office / workspace, lots of good light (can’t say enough about how important that is), and the guy I was visiting who worked there is hooked, totally engaged, and is 100% on board with the movie making mission.  Culture win.

Collaboration vs. cooperation

A small piece, but I will re-quote this from a unit trust manager that Robinson interviewed because I think this represents a big change in how one views the world, and their work within it: “I began to delegate, realizing that actually others were more competent than me.  I began to listen, rather than compete with others to produce the cleverest answer.”

Teaching for Creativity: Encouraging, Identifying, Developing

I read this section and thought, “Every student, even in the secondary grades needs a teacher that’s checking in with their studies and could work with the student on these three things”.  For me that role was primarily held by my parents.  In some institutions it can be the counseling staff.  My own personal experience was that there were far too few interactions between myself and the academic counseling staff to have much sway one way or another.

Emphasis on balance of assessment (diagnostic, formative, summative)

I enjoyed Robinson’s discussion on the current state of the assessment culture of our education systems, one in which the primary focus is on summative assessment due to the oft-cited “high stakes” nature of the tests.  I have mixed feelings about this topic to be sure, and I don’t think I’m alone out there.  I have seen from afar efforts to get data during the diagnostic and formative stage, and teachers I’ve spoken to do look at the data.  Their complaints seem to largely stem from the amount of time it takes away from instruction as well comments that reflect the Elliot Eisner quote mentioned in Robinson: “Not everything important is measurable, and not everything measurable is important”.

Other Areas Open to Innovation

I was intrigued by the “democratically run studio” (Room 13) mentioned in Robinson, all staffed by children who were not even in high school (ages 8-11).

Service Learning – What are some examples that you can think of where it’s been effectively done in an existing school?

Standards-based grading – I would like to see arguments against standards-based report cards.  It seems like a logical evolution away from the {A,B,C,D,F} grading set that I find many faults with.

 


4 Comments for this entry

  • colin osterhout

    Andrea – for me the Internet revolution has meant that I have to be comfortable not knowing everything in my own little limited sphere, and have to learn how to navigate the learning resources better so I can be effective in the disparate things that I want (and need) to do. I don’t know which is “better” or leads to more happiness, but it’s just a fact of my life. I think the quote reflects that mentality in what I would expect from someone in a leadership role.

    Thomas – If I could pick anyone around the tech world to share a pizza and a beer with, alive or otherwise, it wouldn’t have been Jobs. It would have been the other Steve involved with Apple, Steve “Woz” Wozniak.

    Chris – Gamification! Badges! Just the idea of having to set up the reward structure makes it more fun for me to plan some *thing*. BTW – Drop me a line sometime about the SERRC experience – I’d be happy to share more or answer questions about it. It was a great experience for me for so many years, learned a lot about a lot, and got to travel around the state all the while.

  • Andrea

    Yes! “I began to delegate, realizing that actually others were more competent than me. I began to listen, rather than compete with others to produce the cleverest answer.”
    Leaders must realize we are in this together and it is not a competition, we are all (hopefully 🙂 working towards the same result for our students.
    Really enjoy your writing style, writer’s block and all!

  • Thomas

    Colin,
    Great post. I feel your writer’s block pain, it can be a very difficult time to get anything accomplished. I find is so amazing that one guy could help create two companies with so much creativity and success (Jobs). I think it is more than just a culture of learning it is a culture of value. It seems like every employee is valued above just their individual job title and that makes all the difference.

  • Chris

    I’m going to try to comment using my iPad so here goes…
    I too see very little use of e current grading system. I’m biased because my experience comes from teaching elementary and these grades don’t help the students and are usually calculated wrong by the teacher. We use Pearson PowerSchool to input grades and many of us don’t score assignments correctly. As a parent, all I want to know is whether my child meets the standard. That’s why I’m in favor of portfolios and students fulfilling and proving I can statements aligned with the standards. I’m good with standards because they provide quests. I’ve recently read an article about a school in New York called “School of One” where student track their own progress by fulfilling goals. When I read the brochure, I began to think how World of Warcraft is so popular. Can we model a school experience around World of Warcraft? This might not be so far-fetched. Students complete quests (standards) by solving riddles and battling horrible monsters. I’m still working out a good analogy for the horrible monsters. Maybe the custodian or the food services person. I know…students would test their skills against mages and wizards (teachers) in order to move on to the next quest. As the students progress, they acquire new weapons, (itouch) or they are granted access to forbidden realms like the gym or music room. Maybe sound booth or green screen…wait what was I talking about? Oh yeah, grading. Anyways, I think students meet the standard or they try another way. If they can’t hen we (teachers and parents) come up with a plan. Okay, that’s all because it’s late. I would like to he about your experience at SERCC. It sounds interesting.

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