Saturday, November 11, 2017

Less is more

For the past 3 weeks I have been with my mother in England.  Readers of my blog will know that my mother suffers from dementia and needs a lot of support.  She doesn't have wifi at home, and even the telephone connection is quite sporadic as she lives out in the country.  Apart from looking after her,  I've done very little "work",  though I've had lots of time to think and read.  As I'm interested in moving forward into more of an innovation position, I've been reading George's Couros's book The Innovator's Mindset, and reflecting on this and how it relates to my life and the schools where I have worked.  Every day, sometimes twice a day, I have taken a break to walk around the grounds where my mother lives.  I've been enjoying the autumn sun, wind and colours.  The photos and questions in this post are all from my daily "thinking walks", and the quotes are all from George's book.

How can we focus on and support deep learning?

Less is More

  • More so than ever before, educational organizations need to focus more on depth than breadth.  Quality should always override quantity.  But that isn't what happens in schools where teachers feel inundated by new initiatives and a myriad of organizational objectives.
  • As leaders we must recognize, as we're adding what's important and removing what's unnecessary from our staff members' "plates" that every single person's plate size is different.
  • How would your staff members and students respond if someone asked, "What are the 3 big things your school is exploring?"  Would they all say the same 3 things, or would you have double-digit objectives being shared?
  • As a school, when we limit our initiatives, we give ourselves time to discover what deep learning can really look and feel like.  Focusing on a few key things promotes innovation in teaching and learning.
How far away is our "horizon"?  What will we need to learn for the next 4 years and for the next 40?

The tyranny of choice
  • When people have no choice, life is almost unbearable ... but as the number of choices keeps growing negative aspects of having a multitude of options begin to escalate until we become overloaded.  At this point choice no longer liberates but debilitates.  It might even be said to tyrannize.
  • Although offering too many choices can lead to feelings of being overwhelmed, it is imperative that leaders are careful not to constrain those we serve by only allowing them to explore designated tools or resources.  If you do not model constant exploration, teaching practices can become stagnant.  Trial and error, even if they are messy, is where powerful learning happens.
How can we get out of our educational silos and connect with others?

Creativity and innovation
  • Creativity is where we start to think differently and innovation is where creativity comes to life.
  • A focus on doing less allows us the time to go beyond surface level learning and to really explore so we can build a knowledge that enables us to move forward and innovate.  Time to explore is paramount in being successful at creating something new.
  • True innovation in education will only happen when a new structure is created: one that nurtures critical thinkers, supports risk-takers and encourages ongoing transformation, and that places a high value on creative and insightful learning.
  • We can think more creatively if we open our minds to the many connected environments that make creativity possible.  As educational leaders we must promote and capitalize on open, connected learning.  If we want to accelerate our own growth we must actively participate in the sharing of ideas.
What is the best way to create and support an "innovation ripple"?

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