Final Post of this Blog…. for now ….

“Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection.”
– Mark Twain

Dear Readers of this blog – thank you for reading the various musings I have shared with you via this blog in 339 posts since 2013.

As you may know I’ve been a blogger since 2010, when I first became a superintendent of schools; and I have enjoyed each and every blog post, comment, conversation, experience, etc.

Over the past few years I have been blessed with the motivation to write, to share, to blog, to journal and to publish. My writing motivation is now moving more into the book publications realm than in the blogging realm.

With this final blog post (for now) I bid blogging a fond farewell (I may re-brand the blog or start a new medium for personal professional communication after July 1st, when my leadership journey takes me into a new venue in North Shore School District 112).

Thank you for supporting the blog and please consider reading one or more of my publications and sharing your feedback with me.

Thanks for your support and for your interest in my journey. Please continue to Engage, Inspire, Empower and do all you can for all students and members of your community.

ML


Below I’m sharing a recent blog post Nick Polyak and I penned for the American Association of School Administrators

“Leadership is the art of giving people a platform for spreading ideas that work.” –Seth Godin
 

Lead with Passion,Energy, Focus and Partnership

(Lead To Learn, Digital Consortium) Permanent link   All Posts

by Michael Lubelfeld, superintendent, Deerfield Public Schools, Ill., and Nick Polyak, superintendent, Leyden High School District 212, Ill.

polyak digital consortium fall 17The purpose of the AASA Digital Consortium is to support school district administrators as they scale successful models in support of engaging, effective learning experiences using digital media in order to be the leading national voice for digital innovation in our nation’s public schools.

We have often written about the power and value of professional associations. We are grateful to the coaching, guidance, mentorship, feedback and opportunities that these associations afford leaders in the practice of education.

As co-directors of the AASA Digital Consortium we have the honor of gathering with 40-50 superintendents and educational leaders from around the nation in support of leading digital innovation in our nation’s schools. Since 2014, the consortium has visited exemplar school districts from coast to coast (Maryland, California, North Carolina, Illinois and Washington, and our next visit in April 2018 will be to Missouri).

Typically, we engage with a team of superintendents and school leaders for two days of intense leading, learning, fellowship and calls to action. Key to the influence and success of the Digital Consortium are friends like Horace Mann, Discovery Education, Google, Google Chicago, Education Reimagined, McGraw Hill, Fuel Education, Rethink Education and other leaders in the edtech space.

lubelfeld digital consortium fall17

We work through exercises and planning under the powerful frameworks for leadership and change like the one found in Education Reimagined. We have worked with thought leaders from around North America as we support one another on the journey toward change management and maximized impact of digital transformation.

During our visits, tweets are shared under the #AASA_DigitalConsortium. Our challenge and charge as a group of leaders is to continue to lead with passion, energy, focus and partnership. As critical friends, we affirm that which is good and best, and we constructively critique that which can be made better.

AASA will feature blog posts from the various leadership consortia as part of its ongoing outreach and support of leadership and education. In addition, through partnerships with the Center for Digital Education and Discovery Education, for example, a number of case studies and white papers have been written by or about Digital Consortium leaders.

Mike Lubelfeld is the superintendent of Deerfield Public Schools in Deerfield, Ill. Nick Polyak is the superintendent of Leyden High School District 212 in Franklin Park, Ill. Lubelfeld and Polyak serve as co-chairs of AASA’s Digital Consortium and co-moderate  #Suptchat, a monthly, hour-long conversation via Twitter that engages superintendents and other school system leaders worldwide about the most critical issues in education. The program occurs on the first Wednesday of every month, beginning at 8 p.m. (ET). 

#suptchat Archive – Future of Public Education Chat 11/1/17

“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

Each month on the first Wednesday of the month at 7PMCT my good friend Nick Polyak and I host #suptchat. This is the International Chat for superintendents and educational leaders – ALL are welcome!

Following each chat we publish a curated archive of chats from Storify and via Participate. This way there is an easy to access record of all ideas, links, thoughts, insights, ideas, and so on. The main #suptchat document is updated monthly as well.

This month’s chat was entitled The Future of Education, in this blog post I’m sharing the archive; please review the ideas, thoughts, insights, and links. Your comments are welcome as we continue the conversation about the future of education.

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!

 

 

 

 

Culture of “Nice” vs Culture of “Honesty” #suptchat

“Make the most of yourself, for that is all there is for you”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

In terms of organizational culture, many (Drucker & others) are clear that culture “eats strategy for breakfast”. Meaning – focus on culture or you’ll have nothing on which to focus! Culture is not just important – it’s everything! I write about culture a lot, folks a lot smarter than I (Fullan, Marzano, and others) write and research a lot about culture too! So … if we know how important it is to create it, measure it, build it and sustain it (in education especially) … why are we so “nice” instead of “honest” in the context of leading and managing change?

So this year in the Deerfield Public Schools District 109, two more of our six schools earned the highest education award in our nation – the National Blue Ribbon Award. They join two other of our six schools who earned this distinction last year.

In two years four out of our six schools earned the highest honors. Leadership, Culture, Focus, Excellence, and Joy define the experiences for children and adults at these schools. What are the leaders doing with respect to culture at these schools that it making the difference?

Are these leaders confronting brutal questions? Are these leaders acknowledging when good is good and when good is not enough? Are these leaders honestly and respectfully addressing that which needs to be addressed even when it ruffles feathers? “You bet they are!”

In education many of us have been faced with “niceness” and an aversion to “critical review” for whatever reason – we don’t know why – “that’s the way we have always done it” (TWADDI). In conversations, training workshops, conversations, discussions etc. with school leaders, I have discovered many report that the toughest part of supervision/evaluation/coaching is giving honest, direct feedback. 

Often the “culture of nice” supersedes the “culture of honest”. With this post I’m hoping to highlight how the culture of honest impacts the organization in measureable and powerful ways. The culture of honest is pervasive in the Deerfield Public Schools!

If you’re reading this blog and you are wondering why your particular organization is not changing or is not making progress – perhaps you should check your culture and communication.

Is everything in our district’s culture perfect? – NO – of course not; but we as a matter of leadership assess, measure, and lead with respect to culture and dimensions of culture every year. Our school principals are held accountable for their school’s culture. We expect increases in dimensions especially when action plans are centered around growth, acknowledgement and honesty. This year 93.81% of all employees report that they are highly engaged and highly satisfied with their work in our district!

2017 Organizational Culture Results – DPS109

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In In 2013 the average “dream box” (top right) score was 61.90% from a database of more than 10,000 education employees in the USA. Our district’s “dream box” score in 2013 was 85.75%. See below for a look at the past five years’ worth of dream box organizational culture for the Deerfield Public Schools:

 

 

In our district we are far from perfect – highly successful but never satisfied!

We are on a journey toward excellence with a focus on continuous improvement. Over the past two years we have had a failure in the execution of middle school standards based learning. There are a number of reasons for this. One of the reasons was the “culture of nice” superseding the culture of honesty; and our deliberate decisions to “compromise” in the spirit of cooperation (compromise with the best of intentions – but it was really appeasement).

Students of history remember what happened when Neville Chamberlain appeased Adolph Hitler … well – appeasement doesn’t work so well in leadership

honesty and courage work. Granted I’m oversimplifying a really complex and life and death time in history with the day to day leadership of a school system … you get the point.

Strong, direct, honest, dignified, respectful conversations and coaching are required – are imperative – are expected – are to become the norm when success is desired. With honest, direct, clear communication people know what the shared vision is – what the direction is and to what they’ll be held accountable. The three goals shown above reflect the current strategic goals in our district; clear, concise, coherent.

Five years ago the principals in our district began a process of becoming honest and clear culture leaders. They started to address student growth, teacher performance, stretch goals, limitless opportunities for ALL as well as innovative, future focused leadership. As a result, we have four of our six schools honored with the nation’s highest educational honor, we have administrators with regional honors, and we have shared the DPS109 story around the USA. Is it easy to lead in a culture of honesty? No – but I don’t go to work for an easy time … I go to work for a meaningful, impactful time!


I would love to hear your thoughts about culture – “nice vs honest” and leadership overall! If your leaders are too focused on management and not on leadership – excellence will be out of reach! Those who can manage and lead with courage, power, honesty, and in line with the shared vision – those leaders will be successful!

Deerfield Public Library Podcast Interview #Engage109

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

The other day I had the good fortune to spend some time with Dylan Zavagno at the Deerfield Public Library. He took the time to interview me for the Library podcast. Dylan and I chatted about the District as well as my recently published book, The Unlearning Leader: Leading for Tomorrow’s Schools Today!

With this post I am sharing with you the links to the Deerfield Public Library Podcast channel as well as our interview:

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