This is a blog from the Superintendent of Schools for the Deerfield, Illinois Public Schools, District 109 Our mission is: Provide an innovative educational experiences of the highest quality that engage, inspire and empower each student to excel and contribute in a changing world.
This is teacher, nurse, educational support staff (and administrator) appreciation week! We can never say thank you enough to our educators!! THANK YOU!
I’m sharing a quote I have held closely for many years and I’m sharing two notes I recently sent the DPS109 community.
“How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes.” Maya Angelou
Dear District 109 Families and Community Members,
At its last meeting, the Board of Education declared Tuesday, May 9, 2017 as Teacher Appreciation Day in District 109. Please join the Board of Education and the District administration team in applauding our teachers and all of the educators and support staff throughout District 109 who work so hard each day. We have high-achieving, nationally recognized, innovative, warm and welcoming schools because amazing teachers engage, inspire and empower our students – your children, grandchildren, and the children of your friends and neighbors!
I encourage you to find a way to show your support to your favorite teacher, or any school staff member who makes a difference in the lives of the children in our community. Whether you write a heartfelt, handwritten note, have your child create a work of art, or just go out of your way to say a personal “Thank you,” you are giving a great gift. They deserve all the thanks that we can shower upon them!
“If we neglect our gifts and talents, they, like an unused muscle, will atrophy and waste away.” Stephen Covey
Dear District 109 Teachers and Staff,
The Board of Education recently approved our 2017 Strategic Plan. The planning process was both reflective and forward thinking, and very eye-opening to me. I realized how much we have accomplished in four short years. I also acknowledge and thank you for being open to change. I know that’s not easy. Your leaps of faith and constant hard work have allowed our students to thrive, and schools to achieve local, regional and national recognition. In the strategic planning process we should all be proud of the input and impact of that input. Your voices and your input helped shape the goals, objectives and plans. I look forward to working with you and for you to achieve our goals in the coming years.
On April 24, the Board of Education declared Tuesday, May 9, 2017 Teacher Appreciation Day in District 109. The community will celebrate you throughout the week. To show our thanks, the District administration and Board will provide a gift and special treat at some point during the week. They are small tokens of our boundless appreciation of you and your continual work to engage, inspire and empower our students, their parents, your colleagues, and our community.
So THANK YOU, from me personally, and from the Board of Education and District leaders, for allowing us to work with the best team of educators in the nation.
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:
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?
“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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
“One of the marks of successful people is that they are action-oriented. One of the marks of average people is that they are talk-oriented.”
– Brian Tracy
From time to time I share “tweets” from superintendents and school leaders around the world on “ASuperDay” – a super day is designed to give school leaders the chance to tell the stories of what education is … using pictures, audio, video, and text superintendents share “real life” views of meetings, classroom visits, etc. The superintendent position is no longer lonely – or at least it should not be lonely – when we band together as a “PLN” (Personal/Professional learning network) and we take a few minutes to share what it is that we do and what it is that we share.
In the Deerfield Public Schools District 109 our motto is Engage, Inspire, Empower,
through venues like #ASuperDay on Twitter, we’re able to join so many others in so many places doing just that – engaging, inspiring and empowering.
The narrative of education is in the hands of the leaders … please take some time to check out #ASuperDay on Twitter – November 16, 2016
“Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection.”
– Mark Twain
Today while I was driving my car I noticed it felt different, it was not the normal smooth ride I typically enjoy. My wife thought the wheels sounded different, sort of a thumping sound as opposed to the relative quiet of a regular ride. As I reflected on the quality of my driving and the quality of the ride over the past few days I noticed it felt odd, a little off, I still was able to drive from point a to point b, but something was off. Something was out of alignment.
I then began to reflect on the first week of school that we just completed in our district and I wondered how the week felt for everyone … Did it feel good, smooth, and normal, or did it feel strange, and possibly out of alignment? In our district just about 3000 students started a new school year with a new teacher, new classmates, new curricula, new expectations, and new opportunities for joy and innovation. Are we aligned with what the students need? Are we aligned with what the teacher need?
Did the students and teachers get off to a smooth start? Did they have alignment of expectations, of hopes and dreams, of feelings and results? Or was the first week bumpy, with odd sounds and perhaps an uncomfortable feel? With respect to my car, the right rear tire was flat … That I guess is why the orange tire light stayed on even though I filled the air to the manufacturer’s specifications. Even though I did what I always do, drive … And I responded to the warning light (I thought) by filling the air … I still had a warning light, initially I did not change my approaches, and it turns out my wife was right (of course all husbands know that their wife is always right – but that’s for another blog).
My wife asked “did you check the tires before you left today?” I said, “no, I filled the tires the other day – clearly the yellow warning light is wrong.” You see, my approaches were the same – I filled the air, I ignored the light, and I kept driving. Clearly I was not aligned with what my car needed … A new tire and a wheel alignment, and a balance. I actually needed two new tires for balance and alignment.
So how does this relate to alignment in the first week of school? Well perhaps some of us have returned to work mis-aligned, some of us are not noticing that the signals are right but our responses might not be. Some of us are repeating the ways we have always done it and not getting new results. Perhaps the signs are right and our reactions are not. Perhaps doing what we have always done does not yield the proper results anymore. Perhaps we need to innovate and change our approaches. I want to enjoy a good, safe, meaningful ride in my car. In order to do this I need to listen to Continue reading →