The Wow Factor – #engage109 #suptchat

Great things in business are never done by one person, they’re done by a team of people.”
– Steve Jobs

Every day in every classroom everywhere, student voices should be filling the halls, rooms, gymnasiums, cafeterias, playgrounds, buses, everywhere with “WOW” language.

At some recent professional leadership learning conferences I was WOWED with the experience, the possibility for extending that “wow” to all of the students and staff I serve, and reminded we CAN and we MUST WOW our communities!

As educators we have a gift in our calling to serve, teach and lead. The gift is creating the WOW every day for every child. Each child has but one year to spend with us (typically we have children in our grade level for one academic year). We adults get “do overs” annually but the children have but one time to be a 1st grader, an 8th grader, etc. Thestudents do NOT get “do overs” – we owe them WOW moments.

I believe we owe the students WOW moments all the time. My role as a superintendent of schools and a national leader affords me incredible opportunities to both have and create WOW moments. Wow moments for my own development as a leader, wow moments for colleagues and peers through national, statewide and regional leadership, and most important – helping others create WOW moments for students and staff.

Todd Whitaker (highly respected educational leader, professor, author, and speaker) says “10 days in a row” – meaning we must engage, inspire, empower – every day – every child – every learning encounter. In education our profession is too critical to mess up – to create wow moments 7 out of 10 days for example. 10 days in a row … we must do this because the students rely on us to be ready for them and to provide limitless opportunities for them every day.

The past few weeks have been quite busy for me professionally as I have participated at the state superintendent conference, an executive briefing at Apple in Cupertino, CA, I also attended a Visible Learning conference with John Hattie (himself perhaps the greatest research aggregator of our modern times), and I co-led the American Association of School Administrator (AASA) Digital Consortium Fall Conference in Seattle, WA with my good friend Nick Polyak.

At the Digital Consortium Fall Conference we spent time at three schools in the Highline School District; we also spent time at the Museum of Flight and Boeing in Seattle, WA.

So at Apple and at Boeing we educational leaders got to learn first hand what jobs are needed today as well as tomorrow at two of the planets most impactful companies. We got to see what a modern, contemporary workspace looks like. We got to see what a factory in 2017 looks like – it’s a lot different than the factory of 1917 for which the foundation of US public schooling is built. We thought leaders are doing great work disrupting archaic organizational structures in preparation for 2017 – and for 2020, 2025, and beyond.

At Apple and at Boeing I was WOWED around every corner – I cannot share photos because we are not permitted to take or share photos (corporate protection is real and necessary) though I can share with you how and why I was wowed – but more importantly and far more impact-fully I can share how and why we can and must provide WOW moments for every student every day.

I can share photos from the Museum of Flight – I am sharing photos throughout the text of this post.

While we were engaging in US and world history discussions as well as science and technology history discussions and math and engineering discussions, we were WOWED.

We learned about sociology, manufacturing, coding, computer programming, photography, digital photography, national security and more. We were engaged in our learning. We were provided both whole group and small group learning experiences. Our docent was able to differentiate, individualize and even personalize our experiences. We were learners – we were learning – we were engaged, inspired, and empowered. We connected our own interests, knowledge, and thoughts with the content (the exhibits). We were able to imagine, think, … learn.

In our 30-60 minute lesson at the Museum of Flight, and during our visits to the innovative schools in Highline, we were wowed and we saw wowed lessons and experiences. These experiences included students explaining to us what competency based learning means (i.e. take a year of Spanish in a few months for credit and advancement at the high school); what individualized pacing with artificial intelligence looks like (i.e. with advanced curricular resources); in addition, we learned about how the principals and teachers were building cultures of excellence and managing change. On behalf of Students, Staff, and community!

Our challenge, and as Nick and I write about in the Unlearning Leader: Leading for Tomorrow’s Schools Today, and what Nick and PJ and I write about in Student Voice: From Invisible to Invaluable, is to provide true and meaningful engagement for ALL students – every day.

We can do it – we have the knowledge and we must have thecourage. As always, I welcome comments!

 

 

 

 

Article about Voxer in AASA Journal

“When you’re a leader, you don’t have a ton of people that work for you– you now work for those people.”
– Todd Bentley

Lately I have discovered a passion for writing! I have published several articles and books. My second book: Student Voice: From Invisible to Invaluable, ISBN 9781475840025, will be released in January 2018 (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers).

Like the quote above, I work for those I serve – I write for those I serve. The story of the success of the Deerfield Public Schools District 109 (main content for many of my writings) is written for the thousands of students, teachers, support staff, board, administrators, parents, and community members whom I serve.

Another passion of mine is using social media tools for leadership, communication, and progress. To that end, I have published an article in the latest School Administrator Magazine about the social media tool Voxer – see the images below (each is linked to the article/journal). 

As always comments are welcome!

 

 

 

Unlearning Leader – Podcast Interview – EduTalk Radio

“Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”
– A.A. Milne

The Unlearning Leader: Leading Schools for Tomorrow Today is about how today’s leaders need to connect for success. The premise of this book is that we all need to unlearn. In order to change and prepare for tomorrow, the authors submit that much of what leaders have learned must be unlearned as we aim to create a new tomorrow for our nation’s children.

The learning purposes of this book include:

  • Energize people to think, act, and lead differently
  • Embody innovative mindsets
  • Model and share new ways of leading from within the organization
  • Put forth the power and positive impact and legacy for leadership
  • Unlearn old truths to lead in new ways
  • Leverage connection opportunities like #suptchat to lead and learn for tomorrow

The Unlearning Leader: Leading for Tomorrow’s Schools Today is a book that will make a difference. Unlearning implies relearning, and that relates to change. The once constant in education today is change. Leaders must know how people learn, communicate, and think. Nick and Mike are energetic, innovative, creative experts in promoting effective leadership that embraces today’s vastly different environment. This book is not an option – it is fundamental to building educational attitudes and behaviors that produce exceptional learners.
Jim Burgett, Author, Speaker, President of the Burgett Group, IL Supt of the Year


Please listen to a Podcast interview (below) with me and Nick Polyak (the authors) with

 

The Unlearning Leader: Schools for Tomorrow Today will include a series of unique elements, including:
(a) Reflection questions that will generate thought and conversation around each chapter;

(b) a unique end of chapter feature SUPTCHAT: Stop, Understand, Plan, Think –where suggested actions and reflected questions will help readers take action and connect with various Twitter chat communities

(c) a relationship between new learning and leading methods related to the five exemplary practices of leadership, evidence based practices from Kouzes & Posner

(d) Chapter Featurettes – guest commentary from successful educational leaders at the end of each chapter. This provides additional voices on the topics on unlearning.

Why Blog? 2017 the year of “WHY” #Engage109

“Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one.”
– Marcus Aurelius

 

From time to time people ask why I strongly and frequently advocate for the leader’s use of social media so often. Others inquire as to why I share so much about my district and professional views publicly on Twitter, via this blog, and in other communication media. Still others ask how does this use of social media tools improve learning for students and staff.

For the first blog post of 2017 I decided to concentrate on the “why” – the why I blog; this year I plan to write about the why I lead, the why I advocate for all children, the why I do what I do and I believe what I do.

I believe this will be an amazing year!

To start with the “why” I blog, I review the Welcome Section of this blog:

Excerpt: 

Welcome to the blog for the superintendent of the Deerfield Public Schools.

Communication is an evolving process reflective of the needs of the community, and as such, this blog and the district’s methods of communication – pushing and pulling – speaking and listening – are likely going to change and evolve as a result of needs and actions of the district and the superintendent’s office. I welcome and encourage your comments and input!I am grateful to be a part of the educational system and the community! I am grateful to work with an outstanding group of educators, community members, parents, students, etc. I am grateful to learn and grow and support the learning and growth of others as the chief educational leader in the community!


Continuing on the subject of why I blog I consider other social media tools that support my growth as a leader. First I look to blogging and next I look to #suptchat, the international monthly Twitter chat I co-facilitate with Nick Polyak. From #suptchat I learn many leadership tips and ideas and I gain access to resources from a large PLN (personal learning network).

In addition, from other social media sources and through personal professional relationships, I continue to learn so much from contemporary leaders, like Chris Kennedy in West Vancouver, British Columbia, Joe Sanfelippo in Fall Creek, WI (#gocrickets), Jeff Zoul right here in Deerfield, and so many other leaders and educators featured in and through AASA, NASSP, NAESP, and many other professional communications.

In addition, the social media connections and relationships are enhanced and humanized through conferences and workshops and from books and literature. I find great value in reading currently published and recently published books from members of my PLN (Sanfelippo, Zoul, Gustafson, Creasman, Burgess, and so many more!)

One of the ways I learn evidence based ways to support leaders in my organization is through reflection, review, study, connection, and learning from others through various connection modes. One of the ways I share reflection is through blogging!

From  http://blogbasics.com/what-is-a-blog/ they share a definition of what is a blog:

So What Is a Blog?

Let’s begin with some definitions. A bit dry, we realize, but this is a necessary evil. First we’ll define the word this whole site is based around – blog.

A blog is a frequently updated online personal journal or diary. It is a place to express yourself to the world. A place to share your thoughts and your passions. Really, it’s anything you want it to be. For our purposes we’ll say that a blog is your own website that you are going to update on an ongoing basis. Blog is a short form for the word weblog and the two words are used interchangeably.


With this first 2017 blog post I’m also sharing my thoughts on what constitutes effective blogging from an article published this month in the January 2017 edition of the AASA Magazine.

Social Media
What Constitutes Effective Blogging?
By Michael Lubelfeld/School Administrator, January 2017

A superintendent plays many roles and wears many hats — chief educational officer, chief spokesperson and chief communicator to name a few essential and high-profile roles.

Social media as a communication medium has proven to be an effective tool for school leaders. In particular, blogging is an effective mode of communication, and something I have been doing since 2010 when I first became a superintendent in suburban Chicago.

Like other forms of social media, blogging allows for a blending or integration of professional and personal messaging. The district website and official e-mail systems are 100 percent work-related and represent the official statements and positions of the school district. A blog allows for the representation of the district while enabling the superintendent to be a person, a professional with human emotions and interests who can share using her or his own voice.

Posting Periodically
An effective superintendent blog is updated at least monthly. Blog posts should have links, photos and videos relating to the topic being discussed while showcasing learning and leading. Photos and videos showing the schools and communities tend to have a greater viewing impact than generic, nonrelated imagery.

The blog itself should be visually attractive and easy to locate and read with an ease for sharing comments. I follow several blogs because I find the communication timely, relevant and valuable, and I aim to improve my own craft as a blogger by learning from others. The blog should have compelling and well-written content that is fitting for the local audience as well as the profession. It should be a blend and balance of personal reflection and values while serving as a communication arm of the district.

Since the start of the school year, I’ve used my blog to comment critically on the failure of our state to adequately finance public schooling and to reach back to my 8th-grade teaching days to share a homemade vehicle for improving teacher-parent communication in the pre-electronic mail era.

I reflected in another recent post on a life-changing experience participating in a Lifetouch Memory Mission to the Dominican Republic. Several of my narratives attracted comments of followers.

Two superintendent blogs I follow and recommend are the Culture of Yes (https://­cultureofyes.ca) by Chris Kennedy, superintendent in West Vancouver, British Columbia, and the Superintendent’s Corner (https://superintendent.hcpss.org) by Renee Foose, superintendent of the Howard County, Md., schools.

In the Culture of Yes, the reader will find timely and appealing posts relating to education, leadership and highlights of the West Vancouver district. I enjoy the 500- to 1,000-word posts that are easy to read, force me to think and allow me to apply concepts to my own practices as a leader. Foose’s blog is visually unique in that the posts appear as
blocks on a page with images. This distinctive look allows the reader to consider the intended message before reading the posts. Foose generally writes shorter posts than Kennedy and hers typically offer photos or other media capturing students and community.

A Public Journal
I blog out of a desire to share, from a balcony perspective when appropriate, and from the “dance floor” when apropos for describing what is happening in the 3,000-student system I lead. I believe it is useful for the superintendent to share publicly his or her in-depth educational philosophies. Reflection is a valuable skill for all, and blogging serves as a public journal for public reflection.

My social media use enables me to share deeper connections. Because social media drops barriers and boundaries, I am able to learn and grow and communicate with leaders all over the world. In addition, the stories of my schools are shared widely thanks to the ease with which one can connect using social media. My blog shows how professional learning of the superintendent relates to best practices in school leadership, instruction and innovation. The blog is another tool for communication in the modern school leader’s bag of tricks.

Michael Lubelfeld is superintendent of Deerfield Public Schools in Deerfield, Ill. E-mail: mlubelfeld@dps109.org. Twitter: @mikelubelfeld. He blogs at http://dps109supt.edublogs.org.

ENGAGE, INSPIRE, EMPOWER

How school superintendents explored the future of learning together

“When a gifted team dedicates itself to unselfish trust and combines instinct with boldness and effort, it is ready to climb.”
– Patanjali

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This following is from a blog post I co-authored with Nick Polyak, and it is originally published on the Google EDU blog

How school superintendents explored the future of learning together

As education leaders, we’re expected to have all the answers. When we don’t, we solve problems by talking to our peers. The School Superintendents Association (AASA) invites administrators and educators to come together and talk about the challenges superintendents face, like how best to integrate technology in the classroom. This is a focus of the AASA’s digital consortium leadership cohort, which recently reached out to Google to see how they could further the AASA’s goal of leading new ways to use digital media in classrooms. We also reached out to Education Reimagined, an organization that advocates a paradigm shift to learner-centered education.

Google hosted a meeting of the AASA’s digital consortium with Education Reimagined at Google’s Chicago office in July 2016. Our discussion led us to realize we were thinking about the problem we wanted to solve in the wrong way. We had been making plans for how technology would transform our schools without considering one of the most important voices — our students! “The group’s discussion was a powerful reminder that we don’t make decisions in a vacuum,” said Mort Sherman, Associate Executive Director of the AASA. Putting student voices at the center of everything we do will help us design the future with them and for them. This will be a long journey for all of us, but one we are thrilled to embark on.

Putting student voices at the center of everything we do will help us design the future with them and for them.

Discovering student voices

At the Google office in Chicago, Education Reimagined Director Kelly Young kicked off the day by emphasizing the need to put students at the center. She advocated for a student-centered approach, where learning revolves around the needs of individual students instead of traditional classroom structures. She also encouraged us to bring students to the event to make sure that student input informed all of our discussions.

Google then worked with us to leverage their innovation methodology, informally known as “10x thinking” or “moonshot thinking” to help solve the challenges we were facing. It’s a version of “human-centered design thinking” that helps participants develop solutions while keeping the end-user at the center of the process.

GEDU_AASA.jpg
Superintendents used a design thinking process to explore learner-centered education
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In the STAT program at Deerfield Public School District 109, students facilitate a technology review committee meeting.

As we began, it occurred to us all that students are our users, and our users weren’t part of our conversation as much as they should be. Without their input, we wouldn’t be poised for success, because we weren’t empathizing with their daily experience. By going through the 10x process with the students present, we gave them a voice in a way we rarely do. As the realization of user-centric education sunk in, we were excited to share our takeaways with our schools.

After meeting in Chicago, we returned to our districts to put this learner-centric approach into action. Leyden High School District 212, for example, created two student advisory board member posts, giving students the opportunity to weigh in on meaningful decisions. Another, Deerfield Public School District 109, set up the STAT program (Student Technology Advisory Team), in which students provide their input on how technology in the classroom impacts them and what tools, devices, or practices are relevant and effective from their perspective. These are just two examples of the learner-centric transformation happening across the country.

Cementing our progress

More recently the AASA’s digital consortium re-convened in California to discuss, among other things, how we could turn this “aha” moment into action. A huge barrier to action is getting buy-in from teachers and parents, most of whom grew up in a classroom-centric education system.

Consider this: each of us spends over 16,000 hours in the classroom — that’s a lot of experience to work against. So together, we’re working to develop ways for schools to pilot learner-centric education without abruptly abandoning the classroom model. Google’s approach to innovation had us work through six questions in groups. We asked questions such as “If I look back in 12 months, how will I know I succeeded?” We ended the session with answers to some of the questions we had posed, bearing in mind our work isn’t finished.

We’re still working to implement learner-centered education in schools. And it’s not easy. When we meet next spring, our superintendents will report on progress made in individual schools and districts.

It took combining Google’s approach to problem solving, the philosophy from Education Reimagined and the amazing network of superintendents brought together by the AASA to help us think differently about the role of technology in learning. Now that we’ve identified the paradigm shift that needs to happen, we’re excited to share our moment of realization with districts, schools, and classrooms across the country.

GEDU_AASA_students2.jpg
Vanessa Gallegos, left, of East Leyden and Noelle Lowther of West Leyden were introduced as student representatives for the school board during a meeting on May 12 at East Leyden High School.