Thursday, March 20, 2008

The “eBook” is Launched!

I may or may not have mentioned that I have been co-authoring an ebook for the past three years. Wow, yes it has been that long. The title is Designing Thriving Schools, Using Proven Strategies and Technologies to Accelerate Learning. The book, written with Daniel Burrus one of the worlds leading business strategists and technology forecasters, was launched in November. The purpose of the ebook is to bring a powerful and empowering method of thinking, learning and planning to a broad audience in hopes that the Designing Thriving Schools Process will become an invaluable resource, as each of us continues in our quest to make every school a thriving school.

The forty-five strategies for highly effective educators contained in the book, along with forty-one enabling technologies to support them, will be the topic of many of my blog entries in the future. I am proud to share these best practice and research based strategies and tools with you.

Although they are not arranged in any particular order, in general they can be categorized into one of two groups:
Organizational Strategies, which address various facets of the organizational system, its culture, and how it can effectively support learning.
Teaching and Learning Strategies, which directly address improving student achievement and professional performance or practice.

I will begin with a strategy that is painted with a broad brush to stimulate ideas for personal or professional planning.

Visualize your ideal future.

Do you believe that you have the power to shape your future and the future of your school?

How you view the future shapes how you act in the present, and how you act in the present shapes your future. Or, as we like to paraphrase it:

“Your Futureview® determines the future you.”

The power of this simple maxim is illustrated in the following account of a conversation with two middle school students in Washington D.C:

I met Joshua and Ryan a few years ago on a visit to their school in a burned-out, boarded-up zone of abandoned shops and squalid apartment buildings. The school building was a wreck with a rusty chain link fence around it, tripled locked security doors, metal detectors and guards at every entrance.

My questions to them were typical of the kind of things most adults ask kids at that age. “What do you want to do when you grow up? How do you view your future?”

I was shocked by their answers. Both boys told me that they didn’t expect to live long enough to see their sixteenth birthday. They told me what their life was like outside of school – about their friends and relatives who had died in shootings, from drug overdoses, and of HIV/AIDS. As you would expect, the two boys had a long history of truancy, discipline problems, and academic failure.

Ryan and Joshua saw their future as a continuation of the present – more shootings, more drugs, more of what they had – and made decisions based on these assumptions that actually helped create the grim and awful scenario. Math? Who cares? Reading? What’s the point? Safe sex? Why bother?

Do you think their future will be less than it could have been had they had a different view of it? The answer is as obvious as it is tragic.

Could your view of your future be more than it is?

As administrators, teachers, staff members, students, parents and community stakeholders, our Futureview is the single most powerful driving force in our arsenal for effecting educational change. Take time to look to the visible future® and free your imagination to go beyond what seems possible for you and your school at this moment in time.

  • Look outside the field of education for global trends, patterns, and new technologies that have changed or will change education as we know it.

  • Think about what you want for your future and the future of your students.

  • Visualize what you want to do or create. CAN YOU SEE IT?

Take action:
Much of the future is there for use to see if we take the time to look. Once a week, take a half-hour out of your schedule to “unplug” – from the computer, the phone, and the people in your life – and look to your visible future. Because the more you look the more you see!

Suggested Reading:
Burrus, D., (1993). Technotrends: How to use technology to go beyond your competition. New York: Harper Business.
Enriquez, J. (2001). As the future catches you. New York: Crown Business.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

“We Are The Ones We Have Been Waiting For”

Earlier this month I gave a keynote address at the NCLB Illinois State Conference in Chicago. I honored the work of teachers, administrators and parents who are excited and passionate about finding new ways to do the important work of preparing our kids for their future.

I asked the audience if they believed education would change over the next ten years. The response was an overwhelming YES. Then I asked if they believed it would change if we did anything about it or not… once again a resounding YES. Then I told them, “It is imperative change comes from the inside of education, where knowledge of the learner drives the decision-making process, not a political agenda or election platform”. I believe each of us can participate in reforming the No Child Left Behind legislation in our own way. Change comes one student at a time, one lesson at a time, and one decision at a time. I challenged them to find ways to influence the reauthorization of NCLB as a powerful group and as individuals. This is our time, and we can make a difference. We, as educators, have the knowledge, experience and wisdom to improve our educational system. “We are the one we have been waiting for”.

I proposed several Effective Design Strategies:

Look to the Visible Future and ask, What are we missing? Think back and look forward. Think back on what you know but always look forward to possibilities for positive change.

Act on Changes that are Affecting your Future by identifying trends that are affecting you today and will effect you tomorrow. “It is easier to ride a horse in the direction it is going.”

Learn to Fail Fast but Don’t Fail to Learn because no one knows all the answers. Innovation requires risk to produce success. The key is to “fail forward” by learning from our mistakes.

Adopt the Philosophy of Organized Abandonment because refusing to accept what is not working can consume time and energy from other successful endeavors. “If the horse is dead, get off”.

I challenge all of us to take this unique opportunity to help with the reauthorization of NCLB anyway we can.

Ask Yourself:

  • How can I as an individual affect change in NCLB legislation?

  • How can we as a school influence writers of this legislation?

  • Do I belong to any education or citizen groups whom I could influence to add their voice to produce change?

  • Do I believe education will change wither I do anything about or not?

Websites you may want to visit:

No Child Left Behind -
Reauthorization of No Child Left Behind · See the administration's proposals for reauthorizing No Child Left Behind. Find fact sheets, videos of NCLB ...

No Child Left Behind Reauthorization
Secretary Spellings said that legislation proposed by Senator Lamar ... President Bush spoke about the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind …

An Unlikely Partnership Left Behind -
Nov 5, 2007 ... Ten months later, the optimism has vanished and the campaign to reauthorize the No Child Left Behind education law has bogged down. ... content/article/2007/11/04/AR2007110401450.html