The Rear View Camera – Powerful Invention & Metaphor for Leading #engage109

“Don’t bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.”
– William Faulkner, American writer and Nobel Prize laureate

One of the coolest inventions of the modern times is the rear view camera. It’s safe: the rounded view shows people and images as they approach. The camera is also integrated into other safety features like “collision avoidance”. In my car (a VW Passat) for example, if I am going in reverse while a person/vehicle is moving behind me, if I don’t brake – the car brakes automatically!


History of Back Up Cameras (from Wikipedia):

he first backup camera was used in the 1956 Buick Centurion concept car, …. The vehicle had a rear-mounted television camera that sent images to a TV screen in the dashboard in place of the rear-view mirror.[8] The first production automobile …was the 1991 Toyota Soarer Limited ..The system was discontinued in 1997. In April 2000, Nissan’s Infiniti …introduced the RearView Monitor on the 2002 Q45 flagship sedan at the 2000 New York International Auto Show. .. operated from a license-plate-mounted camera in the trunk that transmitted a mirrored image to an in-dash (7-inch) LCD screen. It was available as optional equipment upon North American market launch in March 2001.[9][10] The 2002 Nissan Primera introduced the RearView Monitor backup camera system to territories outside Japan and North America.


In addition to the artificial intelligence “seeing” possible safety issues and “taking over” the automobile preventing accidents and injury (and being really cool technology); there is something powerful from a leadership perspective as well.

From a leadership perspective, the rearview camera can be a metaphor about being able to learn from the past (behind) to guide us with confidence. The camera let’s the driver see behind himself in order to guide and direct his actions and behavior. The rearview camera allows a driver to back up into a parking spot safely, accurately, with confidence and with more safety than the mirrors or eyesight (vision) of the driver (leader).

Philosopher George Sanatayana is credited with the quote: Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

Think about it: the past is represented by the rearview camera- images and sometimes hazards looking behind us/the camera guides are actions and driving with accuracy, with guidelines, with support—the rear view camera is a powerful invention & metaphor for leading. Be sure to look back in order to guide your forward! As we lead our organizations forward and as we forge new and better futures for those we serve, it’s incumbent upon us to honor the past and learn from and seek guidance from the experiences of the past (as guidance) so we learn and create new future realities!

Technology is not always new (first back up camera 1956) and our ideas are not always new (stay in education long enough and the pendulum swings back and forth). The juxtaposition of looking back to move forward resonates with me just like the accuracy and confidence of backing up into a parking spot using only the camera and the screen (technology and not my mirrors); and the accuracy and confidence we can lead forward is in front (or in back) of us with support. New and better is innovation.

Innovation is the greatest invention of the present – the gift we leaders provide to those we serve.


Modern technological advances can represent efficiencies that reflect the past, explain or define the present, and help support our leadership for the future.

I welcome your feedback, comments, ideas, reactions!

I Voted Today! What does this mean? Decision Making #engage109

“Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.”
– Andrew Carnegie

Democracy is a value ingrained in the “DNA” of Americans. Our entire education system is based upon democratic principles, our Declaration of Independence from the British Monarchy declares our rights to be independent (men and women).  “…certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Liberty is the right most closely aligned with voting. The right to give input is a foundational right we enjoy. We apply and extend democratic principles all through the tapestry of our society.

Ten year olds “vote” for the student council (a governance model in the image of our government). Associations vote their members in for leadership positions. In the USA, we feel it is normal and just to vote for pretty much anything.

Some of you reading this will remember commercials where people voted for the better tasting soft drink on TV. Often couples will vote on which restaurant to attend. Families may vote on what colors to paint their rooms. The concept of voting, choosing, giving input is almost an assumed right as an American. The will of the majority rules so many of our institutions of government and society. The majority rule, though, is not the only rule in democratic societies. The rule of 3/5 or “super majority” as well as the rule of “plurality” (the number of votes cast for a candidate who receives more than any other but does not receive an absolute majority.)

In leadership, though, even in a democratic republic, sometimes the elected representatives vote in a different way than their constituents. This does not mean theydisregard the input, it simply means that multiple factors influence decisions.

In general, if you don’t vote can you really complain about the decisions made on your behalf? No, I don’t think so, that’s why I vote; I want to have a voice, whether it is a large voice or a small voice, whether my candidate choices win or not – at least I can say I voted! I went to the table to give my input and in some small way I contributed to our democratic way of life.

I vote for candidates who I believe will represent me, my values, my interests, and the choices I would make if I were in their shoes. I don’t expect the folks for whom I cast a ballot to always agree with me, at times, perhaps often, they will be better educated on the particular issues than I.

In the United States our government and ways of life are more Roman than Greek. That is to say we follow a republican form of government (not the political party) but it’s a representative democracy concept. We don’t employ a direct democracy where everyone gets one vote; we have a representative democracy. This means we vote for people who will represent the views of groups of people. For example, members of Congress are assigned to districts, geographic areas, representing certain numbers of people. This is why the decennial census (the population count every 10 years) is so important to political map-makers.

  • I vote in every election.
  • I vote because I can.
  • I vote because I am a free man.
  • I vote because it is my civic duty.
  • I vote because it is my responsibility as a free man to exercise this powerful right – the right to give input as to whom should represent me and my interests.
  • I vote because I hold great value in the power of representative democracy.
  • I vote because I would like to have my input considered.
  • I vote so I can share my views and values and be a responsible member of society.

One of the tenets of voting that some people overlook is that their vote is going to elect others who will represent their interests. Will those for whom I cast a ballot always vote the way I want them to? No – of course not.

Will they take my follow up input under consideration? Yes – that is the beauty of a democratic republic, the type of society in which we live. I would like everyone I vote for to become elected. But that is unlikely since there are many other voters and that is not a realistic wish. I understand this and I’m ok with this.

As a regular part of my role as the superintendent of schools, I regularly give input to our elected representatives in Washington, D.C., and in Springfield, IL. I would like them to consider my input even if they disagree with it. They may disagree in principle or they may disagree because they are better informed, or they may disagree for political reasons. They also may take my input and form, reform, or transform their beliefs!

I vote for school board members (even my own bosses!); I vote for village trustees and township trustees; I vote for friends, neighbors, colleagues, folks about whom I know a lot and at times, I vote for folks about whom I do not know a lot, but who are aligned with a political coalition I support or understand.

Many voters select based upon political party or candidate gender or candidate ethnicity. It is free choice; people can literally vote for anyone who is on the ballot (and at times they can enter a “write-in” candidate too). That is the beauty of living in a free society.

What does democracy mean in the workplace?

I consider myself to be an inclusive and collaborative leader. I seek input and views and votes from the people likely to be impacted by a decision or set of decisions. I work in an industry full of committees, viewpoints, processes, procedures, etc.

I work for an elected non-partisan school board made of seven citizens who, with me, form a governance team of 8 to manage and govern the school district. I seek input from the nearly 500 employees whom I serve and employ.

Do I always agree with every one of their votes? (no) Do I always do what the will of the majority requests? (no) The plurality (the larger number of votes when a majority is not there)? (no)

Or do I consider their input with care, concern, and respect, and make a decision based upon the combination of input, voice, votes, research, evidence, etc. YES – As a leader I truly have to balance the will of the many with the right decision – often equal or congruous with the will – but not always.

The paradox of leadership is leading with an inspired vision and per a collective plan, mission, agenda, vision, etc.

Seeking input, empowering people yet “at the end of the day” realizing that “the buck stops here” and the accountability and responsibility rests with the leader.

Not following the will of the majority is not rejecting input. Not following the will of the majority is not “not listening”. From time to time the leader must seek input, gather facts, anticipate impact and … well … lead. Sometimes leading means helping the group see a different reality than the one they think they want or the one they think is right.

Recently as part of our work, I shared committee recommendations and my administrative recommendation to the Board of Education (there were sometimes differences in the committee recommendation and my ultimate decision). These examples about which I refer are from the 2013-14 Superintendent’s Task Force for Middle Level Education. This coalition of students, parents, teachers, administrators, community leaders, and board members, a 140 member stakeholder community engagement group, made recommendations for improvement to our middle schools.

I took input from many, shared the input publicly, reviewed a number of factors, synthesized the priorities and make a recommendation. For the elective areas I took all the votes/input and I made a recommendation with some differences. The input continues to guide decision making and resource allocation. The STEM team recommendations were accepted 100%.

The challenge of a leader in a democracy is to respect input and consider the votes and then decide what is in the best interest of the many and to lead. The leader may know more and be able to see around corners the people cannot yet see. The leader often needs to have vision beyond the past experiences and limits of the group. The leader needs to lead and challenge the process and manage the change process.

Does your vote and your input guarantee that your choices will be advocated? No – just like the village trustee for whom I cast a ballot will vote his/her conscious when employees give input, or vote, if you will, they are giving input to the representatives who will ultimately decide what action to take. Your vote does guarantee that your views will be at the table and respectfully reviewed and considered!

What does a leader do when the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few and the future for which he is leading requires systemic unlearning? Well … with compassion and conviction, he leads.


I’m proud I voted today.

I’m proud that the educators with whom I work continue to share voice, vote, values, viewpoints and vision.

I’m proud to share the Deerfield Public Schools District 109 new Strategic Plan later this month.

The mission, vision, guiding principles, portrait of a graduate, goals, objectives and action plans have been carefully prepared, reviewed, planned, and considered.

The Strategic Plan is created by reviewing input of more than 1700 stakeholders – those who voted in surveys have their voice represented. Those who participated in focus groups have their voice represented. Those who Engage, Inspire and Empower have their voice represented as we “rebrand” and “re form” our educational organization for the next several years.

Digital Citizenship – #HaveTheTalk

“All good athletes make mistakes; the great ones learn to make that mistake only once.”
– Raul Lopez

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“The one who follows the crowd will usually get no further than the crowd. The one who walks alone is likely to find himself in places no one has ever been.”– Albert Einstein

This month we are launching a new parent education program aligned with our Digital Privacy, Safety, and Security (DPSS). In partnership with BrightBytes, one of our technology and data research partners, we are deeply reviewing our technology policies, practices, safety and security.

Topics for our inaugural session emerged from surveys, meetings, and input from members of our community. We’ll be joined by a high school student who has a passion for cyber security and for helping to keep families informed and children safe. We’ll host workshops on the following topics (Twitter for parents, Raising digital citizens, Growing up in the Digital Age, Digital Footprints, and more).

In addition to the parent education sessions, this year I have been sending letters with digital “tips” to our parent community. With this blog post I’m sharing excerpts from some of these letters as well as information about our upcoming parent education night. In today’s world digital literacy is essential for all, it’s not ok to leave technology knowledge “to the young people” … it’s for everyone!

 

“…On Wednesday, April 12, we will add a parent program on digital privacy, safety and security (DPSS). Before then, you’ll be hearing more about DPSS, in the schools and directly from me. In March, we will conduct our annual BrightBytes survey of students (in grades 4-8), staff and parents to evaluate the impact of our 1:1 environment and overall community technology use.”

We have been partnering with Bright Bytes since 2014 to measure the impact of our transformative 1:1 teaching & learning initiatives. Our overall scores and performance and growth have been growing since our focus on excellence transcends children, adults, school, home, and community. 

From BrightBytes:

The Technology & Learning module provides educators with insights into the factors that determine the effectiveness of technology in improving student achievement. The heart of the module is CASE™, a research-based framework developed by a team of educational researchers, higher ed statisticians, and K-12 practitioners.

Based on your data, the module calculates your organization’s overall numeric score (between 800 and 1300), which is aligned to a five-color maturity scale: Beginning, Emerging, Proficient, Advanced, and Exemplary. This same maturity scale is used to highlight your organization’s technology readiness and use in each of the framework’s domains, indicators, and variables.

As shown below, the trends are following an upward trajectory because each year’s focus on continuous improvement as well as engaged learning and teaching are having a positive effect and impact.

Sharing more tips:

DPSS in 109 Tip #1: Check your child’s phone. Do you know who your child is texting or messaging…and what they are sending and receiving? As the person paying the cell  phone bill — and as a parent in the digital age — you have a right and a responsibility to know with whom and how your child is communicating. 

The chart below compares the DPS109 results (solid) with all who use BrightBytes (several hundred schools across the country and Canada) of teachers who feel rewarded for integrating technology into teaching:

 

“Outstanding people have one thing in common: an absolute sense of mission.”

– Zig Ziglar

DPSS in 109 Tip #2: Conduct a computer, device and social media audit of practices in your home and include your children in the process. Here are helpful tips, many taken from the US Department of Justice Federal Bureau of Investigation:

  • Be sure to monitor what others are posting about you or your children on their online discussions. You can set up a Google Alert to be notified when something shows up online about you or your child.
  • Change your passwords periodically, and do not reuse old passwords. Do not use the same password for more than one system or service. For example, if someone obtains the password for your email, can they access your online banking information with the same password? There are products that help you manage multiple passwords; here’s a recent list of free products.
  • Do not post anything that might embarrass you later or that you don’t want strangers to know.
  • Do not automatically download, or respond to content on a website or in an email. Do not click on links in email messages claiming to be from a social networking site. Instead go to the site directly to retrieve messages.

“Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.” – Warren Buffett

DPSS in 109 Tip #3: Follow the Terms of Service for popular social media sites and apps like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram; wait until your child is 13 to allow him or her access. Sites that impose these rules are following the government’s Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 (COPPA). The age requirements are put in place to protect your child; children under age 13 typically aren’t emotionally ready to handle the impact, implications, and responsibility connected with social media.  


We’re looking forward to our learning experiences on April 12th and beyond! The chart below shows an example of digital citizenship; teaching students how to cite online information. The frequency of “never” is decreasing and the frequency of “weekly” is increasing!

 

Professional Sharing – The #Engage109 Story – National Reach – Lead, Learn, UNLEARN, and re-learn

“Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier.”
– Mother Teresa

As part of my work as a superintendent of schools, I have the honor of sharing the powerful impact of our work and our world with the nation and world. As a student of EdTech and of leadership, I seek friends and contacts in the context of continual improvement. That which I can learn and apply in my community comes from many sources. That which makes education better for our local setting come from engagement and learning from leaders around the nation and world.

With this blog post I’m sharing a “guest post” I wrote for the EdTechTeam relating to a recent professional experience in which I contributed. The Engage, Inspire, Empower mantra from our district is now on the national stage! How we make the world of public education better and more relevant is now part of the leadership and EdTechTeam tapestry!

 Thursday, March 16, 2017

EdTechTeam Leadership Symposium Ohio

On March 10, 2017, at Avon Lake High School in Avon Lake, OH nearly 100 educational leaders gathered for a day of learning, discovery, exploration, reflection and energy. With a leadership conference for leaders with and by leaders, the excitement and anticipation was palpable. I had the honor of presenting three times, two one hour break-out sessions and the keynote presentation. Together with some rock star edu-leaders, I was able to carry out the high calling of inspiring and empowering leaders!

From EdTechTeam: “The EdTechTeam Leadership Symposium is designed with the leader in mind. Our one-day event will energize, encourage, and inspire you as you confront the unique challenges of guiding a school or district into tomorrow.”

As a member of the presenter team I had the good fortune and honor of helping set the tone and the pace for discovery, discussion, dialogue and discourse with respect to provocative and replicable leadership tips, tricks, and ideas. The sharing of real stories impacting real educators and educational leaders across the nation helps to inspire change and those charged with leading change. I was affirmed by the comments, questions, interests, and post-session commentary. The keynote experience was pretty cool because I got a chance to highlight the great work of my teammates and Board and students and teachers. The opportunity to teach others, for an educational leader, is pretty awesome because it brings us back to our roots so to speak.

The EdTechTeam Leadership Symposia are going to become part of the leadership landscape all across the USA and the world. The EdTechTeam is celebrating ten years of inspiring and empowering teaching and leading in the ed tech landscape; I’m thrilled they are taking their successful progressive approaches into the leaders world too. Leaders who get the chance to be focused on their own growth for an action packed day of learning are better leaders.

Leaders who get the chance to select in what workshops and breakout sessions they can engage are leaders who experience personalized professional learning first hand – these are leaders who can replicate the experiences for their teachers and staff! The EdTechTeam is a “pay it forward” organization in which I am honored, privileged, and humbled to be a part of! I cannot wait for the next symposium. Please visit https://www.edtechteam.com/ for more information!

Information about me for your review, information, etc.

Michael Lubelfeld Ed.D. has served as a public school superintendent in suburban Chicago, Illinois since 2010. On July 1, 2013, he became the superintendent of schools in Deerfield, IL (DPS 109). His 25-year educational career has included serving as an assistant superintendent, a principal, and middle school teacher. In addition, he has worked as an adjunct professor, advisor, and supervisor at Chicago-area Universities in the Department of Educational Leadership. Earning his doctorate in education in curriculum and instruction allowed Lubelfeld to test theories of learning in action. He was named one of the top 5 Bammy Superintendent Finalists in 2015, he is an advocate for Illinois Vision 20/20, he was honored as one of three finalists for the 2015 NASS (National Association of School Superintendents) superintendent of the year award. Mike is an advocate for integrating educational technology throughout instruction. He is the co-moderator of the Twitter chat #suptchat with Nick Polyak, and he and Polyak co-authored the book The Unlearning Leader: Leading for Tomorrow’s Schools Today (Rowman-Littlefield Publishers 2017).

Change Management – #Engage109 represents 2nd order change

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”
– Neale Donald Walsch

journey

My work as a school leader brings me to change management often. From graduate school, to post doctoral leadership programs I have received a great deal of information about change management. Often I use a graphic from the Satir Model of change to illustrate the processes related to the systems view of change.

In this model shown in the image below, change is indicated as the “foreign element” intorduced into the system. Following this change or foreign element, there is chaos in the system.

 

 

This “chaos” is critical to the management of that particular change. How the change is managed determines success or failure with respect to that which is being sought. In education, as an “industry” we have often been criticized (justified in my opinion) for resisting change. TTWWADI “twadiddy” or That’s The Way We Always Do It are words that kill change – they are words that stymie change – these are words that have negative impacts on organizations including educational organizations. In the Deerfield Public Schools we have embarked on many changes since July 1, 2013.

 

 

 

 

The first change, the un blocking of Twitter on July 1, 2013, set in motion many more foreign elements that have had profoundly powerful impacts on learning and teaching for more than 3000 students, 250 teachers, 450 employees, 1850 families, and the more than 20,000 residents of the communities the District Serves. Twitter powerfully opened up the minds, hearts, creative communication skills, narrative about schooling, and branding for the school district. In 2013, it was the superintendent, assistant superintendent and a few principals leading the charge.

Some innovative, courageous teachers took the risk of using Twitter as well for professional growth, professional communication, personal learning, and for communicating about their classroom work in ways never before imagined. The foreign element of Twitter caused a bit of chaos: Some initial questions …

are we really allowed to use this? are we allowed to post photos? what if people get negative? how much time do I have to spend on this? what if I make a mistake? may I use a hashtag, etc.?

The Technical, or First Order Change, of using Twitter was fun, easy, inventive, exciting, and new. Four years later, the Adaptive, or Second Order Change, is that #Engage109 is a powerful, deliberate, intentional, and globally recognized brand of the Deerfield Public Schools. The change is not Twitter, a tool, the change is systems communication. The change is strategic and deliberate communication. The use of Twitter as one of the multiple changes, tools, representations of what we value in DPS109, is part of the bigger picture – the mindset shift that celebrates and normalizes digital, social media communication as a normal and regular part of our work.

For more on 1st/2nd order change, visit: http://www.bercgroup.com/1st-and-2nd-order-change.html, and see image/photo below:

 

 

 

For context,

Prior to 2013 there was no Twitter in DPS109.

Prior to 2013 there was no Digital Footprint for DPS109.

Prior to 2013 communication was not digital – it was traditional.

In less than four years, second order change, implementation of systematized, deliberate, and intentional communication with Twitter as a tool, mode and delivery system has transformed the view of Twitter, Social Media, Communication, #Engage109, and branding as a whole.

Change management is complex, challenging, frustrating, requires relationships, communication and accountability, and it’s the only work that makes lasting impact – in our case – on the future!

Do you have examples of change in your organization?
What else should change in schooling?

All comments are always welcome!