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Good Morning <<First Name>>!

I hope you are having a great day! On a personal update, I made it across the United States from Montana with my daughter. What a fun trip.

Speaking of fun...how would you like to have this for a job?

I can tell you that I never would have signed up for "person hanging on a cable from a helicopter fixing high voltage electric lines" when I went to high school career day!

Take 30 seconds and go tell someone how important they are to you, your school, or the world. GO!

Tom

Breaking The Egg Crate Ecology Of A School

When you grocery shop, you are very happy that the eggs come in their container. Each egg is individually protected from damage while at the same time you can buy up to two dozen eggs all at the same time in one container. A wonderful innovation if I ever saw one!

While we love egg crates when we shop, we don't necessarily want the egg crate ecology to creep into our school system. We don't want every classroom "protected" from each other. When we have an egg crate ecology in our schools, teachers are isolated from each other. When they close their classroom door, they become their own world.

The egg crate ecology may seem to have benefits in a school at first blush. However, on deeper inspection, we see the detrimental effects of isolating teachers. 

Teachers do not stop learning their craft when they graduate with an undergraduate or graduate degree. Think back on your teaching experience. Were you better in year 5 than in year 1? My guess is you were better in year 5. We know the best way to learn is from each other. Professional development provided by administrators can be (and often times is) helpful for a teacher. But let's not kid ourselves...we learn best from each other.

In Larry Cuban's latest blog post, a teacher describes the four benefits of observing their colleagues. 

1. You see each other succeed
2. You see each other fail
3. You learn something unexpected
4. Your students see teachers learning from each other.


Action Item For Learner-Centered Leaders:

As you plan their upcoming school year, how will you encourage teachers to observe each other? 

BTW, I don't want excuses about lack of time or teacher contracts. You are smart. I have faith that you can figure it out!
Read The Blog Post

A Learning Mental Model

Mental models are used to help us make sense of the world. There really is no limit to the number of mental models on any particular subject. In our line of work as educators, we become inundated with different mental models for learning. Some of them are so complex that I get confused just looking at them!

Since I have a simple mind, I want to share a mental model of learning that I came across this week.

It's called the "see-do feedback loop.”
See: The power of examples and finding patterns. Have you ever been given a problem and you say to yourself, "I just don't know where to start?" When this happens, more than likely, you didn't have a "roadmap" or pattern about how to solve the problem. By watching other people solve a problem, you create a framework of pattern recognition to solve a similar problem on your own in the future.

Do: I think back on my days building a master schedule as a principal. I didn't have much of an idea about how to do it until I sat down with an experienced principal who had done it for many years. I then learned the framework and patterns necessary to do it myself. After each attempt at building a master schedule (and aiming for 85% of learners to get everything they wanted), I became better at building a schedule. Doing the activity after learning the patterns solidified my knowledge.

(Of course now, I cringe at thinking that I was fitting kids into an adult-oriented process that limited the learner's ability to receive the instruction they were passionate about.)

Feedback: Feedback is simply reflection on how you are doing.  There are three benefits of feedback in the context of learning. (From the blog post)
  1. First, it can correct for errors. 
  2. Feedback can train your unconscious learning system. The procedural learning system of the brain operates through rewards. It strengthens past actions that led to success and weakens those that led to failure. 
  3. Feedback directs your attention and motivation for future learning. 
     
Action Item For Learner-Centered Leaders:

How can you incorporate the see-do-feedback loop learning model in your professional development for your staff?

How can you incorporate the see-do-feedback loop learning model for your school's Learners?
Read The Article
Avoid Paralysis By Analysis
 
Have you ever been in a meeting and you and your colleagues have talked about something for hours, and you are no closer to making a decision than you were in the first few minutes of the meeting?

If you have (and who hasn't?) then you are experiencing paralysis by analysis. You are thinking too much. The best way to break this trap is to do something! 

Here is some advice from a blog post I read that will motivate you to take action.
  1. Action creates impact. Impact changes lives.
  2. Less thinking, more action is how you make progress
  3. “Action expresses priorities,” says Mahatma Gandhi.
Action Item For Learner-Centered Leaders:

What are the action items you are avoiding by falling into the "analysis by paralysis trap?"

What do your actions say about your priorities?
Read The Article
Book Of The Week

 
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