Sunday, June 28, 2015

Insourcing expertise

Over the past 6 months or so, I've been thinking about what my next steps in life should be.  I absolutely adore my job at ASB - truly it is the best I have ever had - but I also have to consider the needs of my family, in particular my elderly mother who has recently been diagnosed with mild dementia.  I have signed a contract to stay for the next two years - but I have to be realistic and face the fact that this might well be my last contract here, and that at the end of it I may need to return to Europe to give my family the support they will need.

In a recent conversation with a colleague, I broached this subject, and we discussed what the next move might be.  At my age, I don't really see myself starting all over again in another school - but what else could I do?  She suggested exploring the possibility of consultancy.  This is fairly challenging for me, as while I know that many schools do turn to outside "experts" to plan and lead changes in the schools, at ASB we are really comfortable with "insourcing" expertise and leadership by developing our own educators.

One of the joys of working at ASB has been being on various R&D teams.  These teams are given the conditions outlined in self-determination theory (autonomy, competence and relatedness to others) in order to engage in research and prototyping based on our personal interests - as a result new expertise and leadership is emerging within the school.  We abandon status quo thinking as we read, learn and open ourselves up to new ideas, and then we bring these to our colleagues, eventually changing the professional culture of the school.  I suppose it is possible to take this expertise to others schools, but I definitely feel much more comfortable developing it within the place where I actually work rather than working somewhere for a short time as a consultant and trying to change a school community that hasn't yet gone through this process.  I wonder how many schools have an R&D Department - and how many of these are in Europe (actually I can't think of one).

If you are working at a school that is considering starting or growing R&D you might be interested in reading our latest book R&D Your School, which is available on Kindle for $5.  I have found it amazing to work at a school with an R&D department, and it's an idea that I feel many others might be interested in.

Photo of The Shard, taken from London Bridge

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