Unlearning Leadership Planning – Article in IL ASCD Journal Summer 2017

“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn. ”
Alvin Toffler

 

In this blog post I’m sharing an article published in the Illinois Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development (ILASCD): The Unlearning Leader’s Guide to Strategic Planning, Summer 2017, Volume 63, Number 1, pp. 8-16

Video Podcast Interview Collaborating with your Administrators on Professional Development Goals

“The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.”
– Ken Blanchard

Recently I was on a video podcast interview with other educational leaders around the country. On the episode of the TechEducator Podcast I was one of three administrators interviewed with technology coaches & educators on the importance of having a strong relationship between the principal (or admin) and the technology coach. It was a great conversation about
leadership, technology, training, support, culture, relationships, recent leadership books, and overall educational excellence.

It was a treat joining Jeff, Sam and Jennifer!

The TechEducator Podcast is a weekly round table discussion about current topics in educational technology.

For more information, please visit www.techeducatorpodcast.com.

TechEducatorPodcast.com

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Hosts
Jeff Bradbury – TeacherCast.net – @TeacherCast
Sam Patterson – MyPaperlessClassroom.com – @SamPatue
Jennifer Judkins – TeachingForward.net – @JennJudkins

The video is shared at http://www.teachercast.net/2017/04/25/collaborating-with-administrators/

The video may start in the middle, if it does, just slide it back to the start.

About Our Guests

Jennifer Schwanke

Jen Schwanke began her career as a language arts educator eighteen years ago. She has worked at both the elementary and secondary level as a teacher and administrator. A graduate instructor in educational leadership, she has written frequently for
literacy and educational publications and presents at literacy and leadership conferences. She is the author of the book, You’re The Principal: Now What? Strategies and Solutions for New School Leaders.

Michael Lubelfeld, Ed.D.

Mike currently serves as the superintendent of schools in the Deerfield, IL Public Schools (District 109). Mike earned his Doctor of Education in curriculum and instruction from Loyola University of Chicago, where his published dissertation was on Effective Instruction in Middle School Social Studies. He is also on the adjunct faculty at National Louis University in the Department of Educational Leadership. Mike has earned an IASA School of Advanced Leadership Fellowship and he has also graduated from the AASA National Superintendent Certification Program. He can be found on Twitter at @mikelubelfeld and he is the co-moderator of #suptchat – the superintendent educational chat on Twitter. He and Nick Polyak co-authored The Unlearning Leader: Leading for Tomorrow’s Schools Today (2017 Rowman & Littlefield). Mike has been married to his wife Stephanie for the past 13 years and they have two children.

Email: lubelfeldm@gmail.com
Twitter: @mikelubelfeld
District on Twitter: @DPS109
District Hashtag: #Engage109
Voxer: mikelubelfeld
Periscope: @mikelubelfeld
LinkedIn: Michael Lubelfeld
Nick Polyak, Ed.D.

Dr. Polyak is the proud superintendent of the award-winning Leyden Community High School District 212. He earned his undergraduate degree from Augustana College in Rock Island, IL, his Masters from Governors State University, and his Ed.D. from Loyola University Chicago. Nick has been a classroom teacher and coach, a building and district level administrator, a School Board member, and a superintendent for the past seven years in both central Illinois and suburban Chicago. Nick has earned an IASA School of Advanced Leadership Fellowship and he also graduated from the AASA National Superintendent Certification Program. He can be found on Twitter at @npolyak and he is the co-moderator of #suptchat – the superintendent educational chat on Twitter. Nick has been married to his wife Kate for the past 16 years and they have four children.

Email: nickpolyak@gmail.com
Twitter: @npolyak
District on Twitter: @leydenpride
District Hashtag: #leydenpride
Voxer: npolya154
Periscope: @npolyak
LinkedIn: Nick Polyak
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What is your Longpath? Thinking about the Future – TED Talk – #engage109

“Make sure your worst enemy doesn’t live between your own two ears.”
– Laird Hamilton

In this post I’m sharing a TED talk that I enjoyed, and I believe serves as a good reminder for our fast “immediate” world. Ari Wallach’s talk caused me to think about reflection, he asks …”to what end”, how far out do we think? The speaker, Ari Wallach has a good message. Reactions/Responses are always welcome.

Tomorrow I’m joining hundreds of other Illinois Superintendents with Tweets, emails, blog posts, etc. in support of a LONG TERM IL funding solution; for too long we in IL Education have been victims of the short term.

Transcript:
So I’ve been “futuring,” which is a term I made up —
0:15
(Laughter)
0:16
about three seconds ago. I’ve been futuring for about 20 years, and when I first started, I would sit down with people, and say, “Hey, let’s talk 10, 20 years out.” And they’d say, “Great.” And I’ve been seeing that time horizon get shorter and shorter and shorter, so much so that I met with a CEO two months ago and I said — we started our initial conversation. He goes, “I love what you do. I want to talk about the next six months.”
0:44
(Laughter)
0:47
We have a lot of problems that we are facing. These are civilizational-scale problems. The issue though is, we can’t solve them using the mental models that we use right now to try and solve these problems. Yes, a lot of great technical work is being done, but there is a problem that we need to solve for a priori, before, if we want to really move the needle on those big problems. “Short-termism.” Right? There’s no marches. There’s no bracelets. There’s no petitions that you can sign to be against short-termism. I tried to put one up, and no one signed. It was weird.
1:26
(Laughter)
1:28
But it prevents us from doing so much. Short-termism, for many reasons, has pervaded every nook and cranny of our reality. I just want you to take a second and just think about an issue that you’re thinking, working on. It could be personal, it could be at work or it could be move-the-needle world stuff, and think about how far out you tend to think about the solution set for that.
1:52
Because short-termism prevents the CEO from buying really expensive safety equipment. It’ll hurt the bottom line. So we get the Deepwater Horizon. Short-termism prevents teachers from spending quality one-on-one time with their students. So right now in America, a high school student drops out every 26 seconds. Short-termism prevents Congress — sorry if there’s anyone in here from Congress —
2:23
(Laughter)
2:25
or not really that sorry —
2:27
(Laughter)
2:29
from putting money into a real infrastructure bill. So what we get is the I-35W bridge collapse over the Mississippi a few years ago, 13 killed. It wasn’t always like this. We did the Panama Canal. We pretty much have eradicated global polio. We did the transcontinental railroad, the Marshall Plan. And it’s not just big, physical infrastructure problems and issues. Women’s suffrage, the right to vote. But in our short-termist time, where everything seems to happen right now and we can only think out past the next tweet or timeline post, we get hyper-reactionary.
3:07
So what do we do? We take people who are fleeing their war-torn country, and we go after them. We take low-level drug offenders, and we put them away for life. And then we build McMansions without even thinking about how people are going to get between them and their job. It’s a quick buck.
3:25
Now, the reality is, for a lot of these problems, there are some technical fixes, a lot of them. I call these technical fixes sandbag strategies. So you know there’s a storm coming, the levee is broken, no one’s put any money into it, you surround your home with sandbags. And guess what? It works. Storm goes away, the water level goes down, you get rid of the sandbags, and you do this storm after storm after storm. And here’s the insidious thing. A sandbag strategy can get you reelected. A sandbag strategy can help you make your quarterly numbers.
4:05
Now, if we want to move forward into a different future than the one we have right now, because I don’t think we’ve hit — 2016 is not peak civilization.
4:15
(Laughter)
4:16
There’s some more we can do. But my argument is that unless we shift our mental models and our mental maps on how we think about the short, it’s not going to happen.
4:27
So what I’ve developed is something called “longpath,” and it’s a practice. And longpath isn’t a kind of one-and-done exercise. I’m sure everyone here at some point has done an off-site with a lot of Post-It notes and whiteboards, and you do — no offense to the consultants in here who do that — and you do a long-term plan, and then two weeks later, everyone forgets about it. Right? Or a week later. If you’re lucky, three months. It’s a practice because it’s not necessarily a thing that you do. It’s a process where you have to revisit different ways of thinking for every major decision that you’re working on. So I want to go through those three ways of thinking.
5:08
So the first: transgenerational thinking. I love the philosophers: Plato, Socrates, Habermas, Heidegger. I was raised on them. But they all did one thing that didn’t actually seem like a big deal until I really started kind of looking into this. And they all took, as a unit of measure for their entire reality of what it meant to be virtuous and good, the single lifespan, from birth to death. But here’s a problem with these issues: they stack up on top of us, because the only way we know how to do something good in the world is if we do it between our birth and our death. That’s what we’re programmed to do. If you go to the self-help section in any bookstore, it’s all about you. Which is great, unless you’re dealing with some of these major issues. And so with transgenerational thinking, which is really kind of transgenerational ethics, you’re able to expand how you think about these problems, what is your role in helping to solve them.
6:12
Now, this isn’t something that just has to be done at the Security Council chamber. It’s something that you can do in a very kind of personal way. So every once in a while, if I’m lucky, my wife and I like to go out to dinner, and we have three children under the age of seven. So you can imagine it’s a very peaceful, quiet meal.
6:30
(Laughter)
6:32
So we sit down and literally all I want to do is just eat and chill, and my kids have a completely and totally different idea of what we’re going to be doing. And so my first idea is my sandbag strategy, right? It’s to go into my pocket and take out the iPhone and give them “Frozen” or some other bestselling game thing. And then I stop and I have to kind of put on this transgenerational thinking cap. I don’t do this in the restaurant, because it would be bizarre, but I have to — I did it once, and that’s how I learned it was bizarre.
7:09
(Laughter)
7:10
And you have to kind of think, “OK, I can do this.” But what is this teaching them? So what does it mean if I actually bring some paper or engage with them in conversation? It’s hard. It’s not easy, and I’m making this very personal. It’s actually more traumatic than some of the big issues that I work on in the world — entertaining my kids at dinner. But what it does is it connects them here in the present with me, but it also — and this is the crux of transgenerational thinking ethics — it sets them up to how they’re going to interact with their kids and their kids and their kids.
7:47
Second, futures thinking. When we think about the future, 10, 15 years out, give me a vision of what the future is. You don’t have to give it to me, but think in your head. And what you’re probably going to see is the dominant cultural lens that dominates our thinking about the future right now: technology. So when we think about the problems, we always put it through a technological lens, a tech-centric, a techno-utopia, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s something that we have to really think deeply about if we’re going to move on these major issues, because it wasn’t always like this. Right? The ancients had their way of thinking about what the future was. The Church definitely had their idea of what the future could be, and you could actually pay your way into that future. Right? And luckily for humanity, we got the scientific revolution. From there, we got the technology, but what has happened — And by the way, this is not a critique. I love technology. Everything in my house talks back to me, from my children to my speakers to everything.
8:55
(Laughter)
8:58
But we’ve abdicated the future from the high priests in Rome to the high priests of Silicon Valley. So when we think, well, how are we going to deal with climate or with poverty or homelessness, our first reaction is to think about it through a technology lens. And look, I’m not advocating that we go to this guy. I love Joel, don’t get me wrong, but I’m not saying we go to Joel. What I’m saying is we have to rethink our base assumption about only looking at the future in one way, only looking at it through the dominant lens. Because our problems are so big and so vast that we need to open ourselves up.
9:40
So that’s why I do everything in my power not to talk about the future. I talk about futures. It opens the conversation again. So when you’re sitting and thinking about how do we move forward on this major issue — it could be at home, it could be at work, it could be again on the global stage — don’t cut yourself off from thinking about something beyond technology as a fix because we’re more concerned about technological evolution right now than we are about moral evolution. And unless we fix for that, we’re not going to be able to get out of short-termism and get to where we want to be.
10:18
The final, telos thinking. This comes from the Greek root. Ultimate aim and ultimate purpose. And it’s really asking one question: to what end? When was the last time you asked yourself: To what end? And when you asked yourself that, how far out did you go? Because long isn’t long enough anymore. Three, five years doesn’t cut it. It’s 30, 40, 50, 100 years.
10:45
In Homer’s epic, “The Odyssey,” Odysseus had the answer to his “what end.” It was Ithaca. It was this bold vision of what he wanted — to return to Penelope. And I can tell you, because of the work that I’m doing, but also you know it intuitively — we have lost our Ithaca. We have lost our “to what end,” so we stay on this hamster wheel. And yes, we’re trying to solve these problems, but what comes after we solve the problem? And unless you define what comes after, people aren’t going to move. The businesses — this isn’t just about business — but the businesses that do consistently, who break out of short-termism not surprisingly are family-run businesses. They’re transgenerational. They’re telos. They think about the futures. And this is an ad for Patek Philippe. They’re 175 years old, and what’s amazing is that they literally embody this kind of longpathian sense in their brand, because, by the way, you never actually own a Patek Philippe, and I definitely won’t —
11:41
(Laughter)
11:42
unless somebody wants to just throw 25,000 dollars on the stage. You merely look after it for the next generation.
11:49
So it’s important that we remember, the future, we treat it like a noun. It’s not. It’s a verb. It requires action. It requires us to push into it. It’s not this thing that washes over us. It’s something that we actually have total control over. But in a short-term society, we end up feeling like we don’t. We feel like we’re trapped. We can push through that.
12:13
Now I’m getting more comfortable in the fact that at some point in the inevitable future, I will die. But because of these new ways of thinking and doing, both in the outside world and also with my family at home, and what I’m leaving my kids, I get more comfortable in that fact. And it’s something that a lot of us are really uncomfortable with, but I’m telling you, think it through. Apply this type of thinking and you can push yourself past what’s inevitably very, very uncomfortable.
12:47
And it all begins really with yourself asking this question: What is your longpath? But I ask you, when you ask yourself that now or tonight or behind a steering wheel or in the boardroom or the situation room: push past the longpath, quick, oh, what’s my longpath the next three years or five years? Try and push past your own life if you can because it makes you do things a little bit bigger than you thought were possible.
13:19
Yes, we have huge, huge problems out there. With this process, with this thinking, I think we can make a difference. I think you can make a difference, and I believe in you guys.
13:34
Thank you.
13:35
(Applause)

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
GEDU_AASA_students1.jpg
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.

Illinois 5Essentials PARENT Survey – a letter to my community #Engage109

“Determine never to be idle. No person will have occasion to complain of the want of time, who never loses any. It is wonderful how much may be done, if we are always doing.” – Thomas Jefferson


Every other year the state of Illinois asks school districts to survey students, teachers, and parents to complete a statewide climate survey called the 5Essentials from the University of Chicago. As part of our continuing efforts to get input and learn in what areas we succeed and in what areas we need improvement, we ask every member of our school community to complete the surveys.

From a letter I sent:

“Beginning November 16, students, teachers and parents across Illinois will have an opportunity to participate in the fourth annual statewide Illinois 5Essentials Survey. …This year, District 109 is participating, and asking parents to share their thoughts on the important elements of school effectiveness.

Please click here to take the survey.

If you have children in more than one school, please take the survey for each school. The survey will take less than 10 minutes to complete. Your participation will help the District understand the conditions at your child’s school and guide improvement. Your identity and survey responses will be kept completely confidential and will never be connected to you or your child.

On behalf of the Illinois State Board of Education, the Illinois 5Essentials Survey is administered by UChicago Impact at the University of Chicago. The survey gathers data related to five indicators that can predict important student outcomes, including improved attendance and larger test score gains.

  • Effective Leaders
  • Collaborative Teachers
  • Involved Families
  • Supportive Environments
  • Ambitious Instruction

Prior research in more than 400 schools has shown that schools that were strong on at least three of these “5Essential” indicators were 10 times more likely to improve student learning gains in math and reading than those that were weak on three or more Essentials.

All teachers and 6th through 12th grade students will be responding to this survey. 5Essentials Reports will be generated for schools if their teachers and/or students meet the response rate threshold of 50 percent. These reports will be sent to schools and districts in March 2017 and will also be included in the State School Report Card. If at least 20 percent of parents complete this survey, a parent supplement will also be generated. The parent data will not be reported on the State Report Card.

The Illinois 5Essentials Survey for parents will be conducted November 16 through January 16, 2017. Thank you so much for giving your valuable time and input. We are listening!

Sincerely,

Mike

Michael Lubelfeld, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
Deerfield Public Schools District 109
517 Deerfield Road  |  Deerfield, IL 60015
(847) 945-1844 x7231
http://www.dps109.org | http://dps109supt.edublogs.org/


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