Summer Reading: TICAL Cadre recommendations

Posted by Michael Simkins on July 1, 2018

Book open on beach with stones holding down pagesIt’s not easy for school administrators to find time to read a book, but if it’s ever going to happen, it’s during July. Here are fourteen recommendations from members of the TICAL Cadre!

Leading Minds: An anatomy of leadership by Howard Gardner

This book dissects the leadership approaches and skill sets of 11 amazing leaders such as Martin Luther King, Margaret Mead, Eleanor Roosevelt, and J. Robert Oppenheimer. I have not finished the book yet but so far so good as I jump around, focusing on the leaders who interest me the most. The minds of leaders and the people who follow them…a great read for outstanding leadership!

Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World by Tony Wagner

From a prominent educator, author, and founder of Harvard’s Change Leadership Group comes a provocative look at why innovation is today’s most essential real-world skill and what young people need from parents, teachers, and employers to become the innovators of America’s future.

Coherence: The Right Drivers in Action for Schools, Districts, and Systems by Michael Fullan and Joanne Quinn

Coherence is a book that demands action – it moves from the narrative of fixing one teacher at a time, to asking about the coherence of the system (be it school, national, or world issues). Fullan and Quinn create an important narrative about direction, working together, deepening learning, and securing accountability. The book sparkles with examples of coherence in action, it makes no excuses for employing the wrong levers of change.

When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing by Daniel Pink

Drawing on a rich trove of research from psychology, biology, and economics, Pink reveals how best to live, work, and succeed. How can we use the hidden patterns of the day to build the ideal schedule? Why do certain breaks dramatically improve student test scores? Pink distills cutting-edge research and data on timing and synthesizes them into a fascinating, readable narrative packed with irresistible stories and practical takeaways.

Learner-Centered Innovation: Spark Curiosity, Ignite Passion, and Unleash Genius by Katie Martin

A mix of research and personal anecdotes that is compelling and actionable. Appropriate for any educator, but particularly relevant for innovative leaders. “When we tell kids to complete an assignment, we get compliance. When we empower kids to explore and learn how to make an impact on the world, we inspire problem solvers and innovators.”

Into the Magic Shop: A Neurosurgeon’s Quest to Discover the Mysteries of the Brain and the Secrets of the Heart by James Doty, M.D.

This book is a fast easy read. The author makes the connection between the physiological body and the practice of meditation. The author also had a very traumatic childhood and his story reminds us of the power of the mind to overcome obstacles.

Notice & Note: Strategies for close reading by Kylene Beers and Robert E Probst

Need to nuture your inner teacher this summer? Notice and Note introduces 6 “signposts” that alert readers to significant moments in a work of literature and encourages them to read closely. This helps create attentive readers who look closely at a text, interpret it responsibly and rigorously, and reflect on what it means to them.

Big Potential: How Transforming the Pursuit of Success Raises Our Achievement, Happiness, and Well-Being by Shawn Achor

This book covers the recent research about how relationships and social connections are more important and influential to achieve happiness and well-being for you and those around you.

The Distracted Mind: Ancient Brains in a High-Tech World by Adam Gazzaley and Larry D. Rosen

Do you ever worry about they myriad ways we use technology without really thinking about what we’re doing and why—particularly when we’re using mobile devices? That’s what this book is about: thoughtful use.

Thank You for Being Late by Thomas Friedman

Friedman exposes the tectonic movements that are reshaping the world today and explains how to get the most out of them and cushion their worst impacts. You will never look at the world the same way again after you read this book: how you understand the news, the work you do, the education your kids need, the investments your employer has to make, and the moral and geopolitical choices our country has to navigate will all be refashioned by Friedman’s original analysis.

Greater Than Yourself: The ultimate lesson of true leadership by Steven Farber

Greater Than Yourself is a powerful and inspiring story that shows how the goal of a leader is to lift others higher than themselves. A great leader will encourage teammates, employees, and colleagues to become more capable, confident and accomplished than they are themselves.

Bobby Kennedy: A raging spirit by Chris Matthews

A revealing new portrait of Robert F. Kennedy that gets closer to the man than any book before. “A good read for folks about a time when courage, compassion and ideas is what we looked for in our leaders.”

The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals by Chris McChesney

This is a great read to help focus a team on common goals toward a common vision. What I like best is the simplistic recommendations about how to keep the important work at the forefront. I started using it this year to help hone work in large department meetings. This is our common read for next year.

Frenemies: The Epic Disruption of the Ad Business (and Everything Else) by Ken Auletta

“The Mad Men days are gone forever, replaced in large part by “quants” and algorithms. The challenge is how to sell products on mobile devices without harassing consumers, how to reach a younger generation accustomed to dodging ads, how to capture consumer attention in an age where choices proliferate and a mass audience is rare.” See any parallels to the challenges we have in education?”

Thank you to the following cadre members for sharing their personal recommendations:

Aaron Palm
Butch Owens
Devin Vodicka
Jack Jarvis
Janice Delagrammatikas
Jason Borgen
Lisa Marie Gonzales
Stephen Vaughn
Susan Brooks Young
Susan Gilley
Tim Landeck

View this TICAL Summer Reading List on Amazon.

 

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Future Ready Assessment: A head start towards personalized learning

Posted by Gabe Soumakian on July 19, 2016

The 7 gears of Future Ready Schools
The 7 gears of Future Ready schools

Often, we hear administrators tout their success with technology innovation by pointing to the number of 1-to-1 devices deployed in their schools.  At the same time, we hear it is “not about the technology” but rather it is changes in the teaching and learning process that transform our students as 21st century learners. Although there is a major shift toward digital transformation and innovation in our schools, administrators need to understand how to connect the dots and develop a comprehensive implementation plan that impacts student learning.

A good place to begin the process—or to validate that the district is headed in the right direction—is to have the leadership team collectively take the Future Ready (FR) assessment tool. The report from this tool will identify critical gaps as well as help guide you in the development of an effective implementation plan to fill those gaps.

This collaborative process of taking the FR assessment provides a professional learning opportunity to build the leadership capacity within your team. Your leadership team will benefit from this process and understand the major implementation shifts and design elements for appropriate technology solutions.  Through the assessment dashboard, your team will discover where your district is on the continuum for digital conversion, identify gaps, access strategies, and review your progress toward the development of a robust technical and human infrastructure.

What innovative leaders will learn from this process is the need to move beyond 21st century learning skills toward a personalized learning environment that prepares students for college, career, and life readiness.  Linking learning in the classroom to a real world setting makes the learning relevant and brings life to the curriculum so that students are engaged and feel connected to their future career paths.

Begin the process at www.FutureReady.org!  First, the district superintendent must take the Future Ready pledge.  Then, take the FR assessment.  Review the report as a team, then move your efforts to the next level by taking advantage of the resources available at the Future Ready Hub, especially the regional workshops.  Using this model will bring administrators in your region together to examine the data and connect your district with other leadership teams who can collectively move forward on the personalized learning continuum.

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Future Ready Learning: The new national ed tech plan

Posted by Susan Brooks-Young on June 24, 2016

Cover of Future Ready Learning planThe first National Education Technology Plan, Getting American Students Ready for the 21st Century: Meeting the Technology Literacy Challenge, was published in 1996. This is noteworthy because prior to the release of this plan, there was little incentive for schools or other education-related institutions to invest much in the way of time or resources into developing instructional technology plans. The first national plan was built on four goals:

  1. Professional development for teachers
  2. Teacher and student classroom access to up-to-date hardware
  3. Internet connectivity for every classroom
  4. Access to digital learning materials

This early document became a catalyst for the American public to change its thinking regarding the impact technology might have on instruction. The next three plans—published in 2000, 2004, and 2010—incorporated these goals and introduced additional topics including assessment, leadership, integrated data systems, productivity, and funding. However, the 1996 plan is held up as having had the greatest impact on K-12 education—probably because federal funding for education technology was made available in conjunction with the plan’s release. Now, twenty year later, the US Department of Education has released the fifth National Educational Technology Plan.

Entitled Future Ready Learning: Reimagining the Role of Technology in Education, this latest plan incorporates five focus areas. They are:

  1. Learning—Engaging and Empowering Learning through Technology
  2. Teaching—Teaching With Technology
  3. Leadership—Creating a Culture and Conditions for Innovation and Change
  4. Assessment—Measuring for Learning
  5. Infrastructure—Enabling Access and Effective Use

These five areas support expansion of topics included in previous plans, but also allow for conversations not included in earlier documents. For example, the first focus area (Learning) features a discussion about something called the digital use divide. This is an access gap that’s created when some students’ use of technology is limited to consuming existing content while others are encouraged to use technology to support their own learning by creating content. The digital use divide has been recognized for quite some time, but not referred to specifically in prior plans.

A new twist on digital divide issues is broached in the fifth focus area (Infrastructure). In this case, it’s the need for students to have access to high-speed Internet at school and at home. Educators know that schools often struggle to provide reliable high-speed connectivity, but it’s important to remember that more than one-half of low-income students under the age of 10 don’t have any Internet access at home and even more have inadequate access. We’ve told ourselves that these students can use smartphones or get online at a friend’s home or the local library, but it’s just not the same as high-speed connectivity in every home.

And finally, the importance of leadership is heavily emphasized in this plan. This emphasis is tied directly to a related national initiative called Future Ready Schools, which promotes transformation of teaching and learning through access to—and effective use of—technology. In order to provide these kinds of teaching and learning environments, district (and site) leaders must be fully engaged in their planning and implementation. The TICAL project is a regional partner of Future Ready Schools, providing assistance to education leaders in and outside of California.

Based on the fact that previous plans have impacted design and implementation of instructional technology programs throughout the U.S. and it’s likely that this new plan will also influence future developments in education technology.  I urge you to read and use the ideas presented in the plan to broaden and update the discussion about the role of technology in education, specifically within your school or district. You may also want to watch TICAL’s Quick Take on the 2016 National Education Technology Plan.

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Speak Up Survey Findings for Principals

Posted by Sandra Miller on November 30, 2015

Door to principal's officeSince the late 19th century, the name on the door has said principal. In the 21st century, it does still. However, the principal’s multi-faceted role has continued to evolve.

Today more than ever, principals must keep up to date on the culture surrounding their schools, even as they focus on student learning. Everyone has an opinion, especially about technology. Where is your school in relation to some of these key findings from a recent Speak Up Survey?  Should you move in one of these directions? Would your parents and teachers agree?

More than 9 out of 10 administrators say that the effective use of technology within instruction is important for achieving their school or district’s core mission of education and preparation of students.

Over three-quarters of parents (78%) say that the best way for their child to develop college career and citizen ready skills they will need for future success, is to use technology on a regular basis within his or her daily classes at school.

52% of teachers in blended classrooms say their students are developing collaborative skills as a result of using technology within learning.

Three-quarters of principals attribute increased student engagement in learning to the effective use of digital content in their blending learning classrooms.

There are more key findings from students and others on the Project Tomorrow Speak-Up website, including ready-to-show graphics to help principals present this information.

Register your school or district to be part of the Speak Up Survey and receive your school data free. It is an easy way for all your stakeholders to participate in local decisions about technology.  Deadline to Sign Up: December 18, 2015

Kate Rousmaniere has written, “Yet by the nature of their background and role as educators, principals have always been concerned with student learning, and principals across time have played a pivotal role in shaping the educational culture of schools.”

How might you use these findings to shape your school?

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Leading Change for the First Year Superintendent

Posted by Charles Young on July 27, 2015

People meeting around table.My mother was fond of sayings. This was most likely her way of having a ready response to the countless interactions and sometimes chaotic doings in a house of six kids, five of them boys, and a myriad array of pets, most of which were poorly behaved, but loving dogs. Being the youngest child, I had a front row seat to the exciting events produced by my mischievous brothers and eye-rolling sister.

The two sayings I remember Mother using the most were (and at first glance they appear entirely contradictory):

“Don’t worry, it may never happen.”

“There is nothing as constant as change.”

As I move through the early days of my new role as a superintendent of the Benicia Unified School District, my mother’s sayings come back to me as I contemplate, most specifically, the first 100 days.

The research on change is long and deep. The names that come to mind include Kurt Lewin (often referred to as the father of organizational change theory), Peter Senge, Michael Fullan and Wayne Dyer. While it would be presumptuous of me to assume that I can add much of anything that is new,  I can point out a few ideas that are jumping out at me as I process what I have read over the years in terms of my new role and context, and how I might apply what I’ve learned— complemented, of course, by a bit of my mother’s wisdom!

Balance Being with Doing

While change is inevitable, and the desire to enact change as a superintendent is a strong force, the importance of being fully present—being—and truly learning about the organization’s norms and culturedoing—are critical to long term success. Time must be spent learning deeply about the new system, its successes, goals, challenges and opportunities for growth. Being centers on building relationships and cultivating the trust that will enable the doing of new things and the fulfillment of new goals.

Go Slow to Go Fast

Change efforts, small or large, can be complicated and necessitate careful consideration. While we worry about variables that may or may not happen, allowing ourselves to slow down, build capacity, establish clarity and develop a clearly articulated action plan will ensure greater levels of success. The go-slow part of this effort can include an important element for a new superintendent, and that is gaining early wins, even if small ones. These early wins can build enthusiasm, energy and confidence in your ability to lead in general, and specifically, in relation to change efforts.

Transitional vs. Transformational Change

Knowing the difference between these two major change categories helps shape the inevitability of change and assuage our sense of fear of the unknown. Transitional change includes modifying important parts of the system that need  improvement but won’t disrupt the organizaiton or move it in dramatically different directions. These change efforts are usually small in scale but important to growth and improvement and might include a change in meeting times and structures or defining and implementing different types of decision-making structures.

Transformational change efforts are larger in scale and influence greater numbers of people. Exaples might include the full implementation of professional learning communities, restructuring the student day, redesigning learning environments, or utilizing technology to truly differentiate the learning experience and challenge students to experience 21st Century skills on a deeper level.

While just twelve days into the job, my mother’s flashing light insights return to me. She reminds me that while change is inevitable, grounding myself in sound theory will help me navigate successful change efforts and manage the natural inclination to worry about elements that may seem outside our control.

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