Last week I began to explore the work of Simon Breakspear , one of the keynote speakers at the Technology Enabled Learning and Leading conference in Toronto earlier this month. Through the use of a sports analogy, Mr. Breakspear outlined the need for a concerted drive for personal and professional improvement. The question remains, how do we as leaders support and nurture this drive in our students and staff ? The answer may lie what Breakspear calls the 'Killer Apps' of deep learning - agency, relevancy and connection.
The agency of meaningful learning is found in the co-producing, co-designing, interacting and leading our own learning based on our personal goals and needs. This is imperative for all learners. The approach stems from the work of Charles Leadbetter a leading voice on innovation and learning. Simply put learning should happen by and with us rather than for and to us. Furthermore, learning ownership requires a steady diet of meaningful and timely feedback reflecting on the real world work that students create. Think of a football offensive coordinator as a coaching model. There is no point in talking to your quarterback about the interception he threw after the game is over. That player needs feedback and direction now before his next set play. Constantly learning in the moment, adjusting our plan of attack in real time, this is one key to steady improvement.
The next 'killer app' is relevance. This is achieved through developing work that matters to our students and supporting staff as they take risks with new approaches such as flipped classrooms. Relevance takes determination and risk with a willingness to accept failures along the way. What are the present practices that impede relevance? Choose one and change it to reflect the need to have the 'work' relate to the students. This doesn't mean that we need to drop everything and solely teach code tomorrow. This means that we need to connect the content to real world problems and concerns that students will face , that we will all face. Students want to make a difference , they want to know that what they are learning and doing has a connection and meaning to their lives and their future.
Finally now more than ever we all need real connection. Nothing can replace the human interaction and community created with your staff and students. In the ever growing digital landscape , students need to know that they are safe and that they matter as individuals. No other element of teaching and learning is as important as the social interaction in a school community. This is the mentoring, peer support, coaching and just being there for students and staff. We all have stories of former students and staff members returning for a visit, greeting you in the mall or inviting you to their wedding.These are the memories of an enduring connection. A strong supportive school community has a palpable energy that hits you when you walk through the door. This is the difference maker, always was and always will be. Good coaches do not just lead from the sidelines, they get to know their team and their families, they create a community. They are heard and seen and when they lead - they lead loudly.
This week I reflected on the work of Simon Breakspear and Charles Leadbetter. I have included two of their videos for you to explore at your leisure.
Charles Leadbeater: The era of open innovation [Video file]. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=W7raJeMpyM0
Simon Breakspear: Edupreneurship on Vimeo [Video file]. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://vimeo.com/50557321