This week was a whirlwind, but it was AWESOME. I was privileged to attend our district’s administrative retreat. During the retreat we were able to really hone in on goals, our district’s vision and mission, how to utilize data to drive our efforts, and a process called Design Thinking to take our innovation to the next level. I could probably write two or three blog posts with the takeaways from this week however, I have found that the process of selecting and editing the absolute best of the week really helps to memorialize what happened and help me focus in on how to use those takeaways to improve my practice.
1.) How Do You Tell YOUR Story?
This was a continual theme for me throughout the event. The process for telling your story starts with having a good idea of WHAT EXACTLY that story is. I really appreciate the fact that our district has honed in on a data approach to this process. Everything starts with data. I love that because it is similar to my classroom practice of Notice/Wonder where you look at what is in front of you, in our case this would be data, and you begin to NOTICE what is there and also tell about what you wonder from that same information. The Design Thinking process that was presented really got me thinking about how to really sit with this first stage longer and really take it all in.
Often we complain about how our story is being told and I am so glad that we are not going to take that anymore. We will take control of how our story is told. We will be able to show our community and the world how we put students and student success first. I loved the conversation we had about how to effectively use Twitter to help with the story telling process. We had a rich discussion about how to utilize Twitter (and social media in general) in a professional way so that we can model to our students how to appropriately use this amazing medium. This discussion was also very convicting to me. I needed the reminder that my Facebook, although hidden from the general public, can be found and that I need to handle myself professionally in all realms of social media. I “knew” this already however the discussion today helped me to remember and I think will stick with me for a while as it is true that we are held to a higher standard in these positions. If one of the lessons that I learned today was about “how do you tell your story” and I don’t live my life in such a way that if it is on display that it does not show what I value then I really need to re-evaluate. I do not want all of the awesome work that we are doing to go away because of poor decisions with regard to social media. I remember from customer service training that one bad experience with a customer requires over 100 good experiences with other customers to overcome the negativity released into the community. I want to be a driving force for good and the positive story telling of our work as a district.
2.) Seek first to understand, then to be understood
I loved the presentation from Dr. Echols this week. She truly lived into her mantra of seeking first to understand and then to be understood which is a quote by Stephen Covey. She modeled this throughout her presentation and I found myself pausing several times throughout the week to really get to know what others had to say before I shared my point of view. This is a process for me and I hope to one day be really good at it. Until then, I will just keep working on it.
I love this idea so much. Dr. Thomas modeled how he would like all of our presentations to start with the district mission, vision, and goals and that idea carried through all of the district presentations. I loved how Dr. Bornes went “meta” and discussed how he circulated the room, paraphrased and summarized the thinking of the people in our discussion and really highlighted the strategies that he was using. I would love to be more deliberate about pointing this out in my classes as well as with my department. I hope to create laminated Math Practice standards to have on my board to really highlight when we use the standards, similar to how he did that during his presentation. Through modeling concepts, people are more attuned to what you value and how you want those concepts to be used.
On a separate modeling idea, we created prototypes, or models if you will, of our ideas for a media center redesign. I loved the “quick and dirty” nature of the activity because it forced us to edit our ideas and really prioritize the most important parts. The prototype stage of the Design Thinking process can take on either a physical model or an experience format. One of our groups did both and I loved how it really helped me understand the vision and how this activity could be useful in other applications in our school.
4.) Various Forms of Data
I love data. I like collecting data in a systematic way, discussing what we NOTICE in the data, and what we WONDER about (see what I did there). This week really helped me to understand how we can start to leverage data more to help drive instruction and help our students succeed. We learned about how to “read” data about student achievement provided by ECRA. I loved how Dr. Storey helped our staff to understand the “statistics” behind the data and really get us thinking about how we can use the data to tell our story.
Additionally, this week has highlighted the fact that data can take on a variety of forms. I will collect data as I do pop-in visits with my staff this fall. I hope to use ECRA data to identify small groups of students to video interview to really dive deep into how to better assist them in their pursuit of success through having teachers view their data and videos to determine a course of action. It’s all data and our charge is to NOTICE what the data is telling us and WONDER about the data to ensure that we make informed decisions.
5.) Applying Design Thinking
I LOVED the presentation on Design Thinking. Everything from the very first team building activity to personally feeling uncomfortable with parts of the process (yet understanding that the discomfort was really ok and just part of the process). I’d like to apply this process in my department meetings. We have several problem spaces to work with: class failure rates, curriculum alignment, classroom space usage, classroom management strategies, lesson planning. I’m excited to learn more about this process and hopefully apply it.
Side Note: Talent 10 (I couldn’t resist to include this activity, it’s my blog so I can do what I wanna)
We had the opportunity to take a survey provided through HUMANeX and the results of the survey were shared. Out of 22 leadership indicators we were able to see each of our top ten characteristics, the school leadership team’s characteristics, as well as the district office’s characteristics. It was awesome to see the traits that were inherently part of us that we shared as well as our unique differences. I liked working with that data set and am interested in learning more about what this company had to offer. One trait that we noticed that was not on our top ten was that of COURAGE. Therefore, to step out in faith and practice this trait I am going to take a courageous move by publishing my top ten. For taking this assessment at about 10pm one evening last week I am impressed with how I feel like this is a pretty accurate description of my top ten traits. I LOVE that my number one is trust building as I like to hang my hat on that one :). I LOVE that team building is so close to the top given that I LOVE creating opportunities to build teams to create success. I loved seeing what my teammates’ strengths were so that we can really capitalize on what we have to offer and in the future supplement our team with areas that we could use more talent in.