learning without limits –ELC 2013

Leadership is a process of social influence, which maximizes the efforts of others, towards the achievement of a goal. –K. Kruse

Am encouraged to see the shift in what is viewed as leadership especially in the international school setting.  The mentality has changed and not only are educators in all areas of the school viewed and more importantly, viewing themselves as leaders and learners,  but our students are too. EARCOS changing the name of their conference from administrators’ to leadership a few years back also facilitated the shift in mindset and helped to broaden who we see involved in impacting the change and growth of our schools.

It was a delight to find so many people embracing twitter this conference round. I noticed a marked difference in the EARCOS Leadership Conference community compared to last year–a connectedness and flow of conversations both virtually and in person. I got even more out of the conference as people shared their learning, thoughts and viewpoints from all corners of the conference space. Fellow educators became more accessible and recognizable. Passion in education is about learning new things, and new things we did learn.  The passion was definitely evident amongst the ELC crowd.

Day 0: Pre-Conference
Fostering an innovative culture with George Couros was the pre-conference I signed up for. I research workshop presenters but sometimes you can’t gauge what they are like in conveying their message from what you read about/from them online. From not so great past experiences, I looked up everything I possibly could and discovered the key is to find video of said presenter presenting in some form. George is engaging in the digital world and engaging in person too.

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@gcouros and George Couros…rather surreal

His guiding question was How do we move from “pockets of innovation” to a “culture of innovation”? From my perspective and role as professional development coordinator, it has to do with helping people find connections with each other in their learning, approaching the ever changing landscape of education with positivity and enthusiasm, and viewing learning as something we all do but can do even better together. What resonated with me most was expanding our school’s view of the learning community to be inclusive of our parents, families and local community along with providing the access and opportunity for all to share and celebrate their learning. He stressed the importance of making great learning visible and in the process of doing so, we become more reflective and aware of where we are at and where we want to be going. What I appreciate most about what he said is that he lives out all aspects of it. His journey is visible, thoughtful and inspiring because he is open and real about his learning and values the voices of others.

So how will we do things differently and better at our schools?

We are going to look at…

Conversations:

  • having an explicit focus on sharing with a shift to making sharing the norm
  • providing a platform/space for sharing interests and learning
  • inviting people to engage and take part
  • developing consistency and continuity in our words and actions
  • involving the learning community in determining the direction of growth and change
  • sharing of and reflecting on professional growth plans

Scaffolds:

  • shifting the approach in engaging educators in that what is best practice for our students is best practice for our teachers
  • creating competitive collaboration
  • helping educators identify their passion
  • building upon school goals in determining areas of interest for professional growth both individually and in groups
  • communicating an ongoing vision and continuing to model learning
  • meeting faculty where they are at and acknowledging that their learning process is more important than the end point
  • creating meaningful learning opportunities together
  • identifying strengths and building leadership upon those

Celebrations:

  • highlighting great learning and teaching
  • acknowledging the talents within our faculty and community
  • providing opportunities to showcase learning at all levels and areas

Days 1-3 to come but some other highlights would be reconnecting with friends from elementary school and past conferences, running into my high school teacher who is still at the same school, and meeting educators from the school where I attended kindergarten and learning the school building is exactly where I left it. It truly amazes me how paths and stories cross.  And let’s not forget about taking in some art. There were beautiful pieces around the Shangri-La and I also popped out to the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre. Didn’t have time to go graffiti hunting so will have to do that in March at the teachers’ conference.  I leave you with some of my favourite findings.

 

stories

If stories come to you, care for them. And learn to give them away where they are needed. Sometimes a person needs a story more than food to stay alive.

—Barry Lopez

Stories have been a recurring theme this past year in life and learning. Last month at the ELC, I attended a session on developing professional learning communities through appreciative inquiry–Chris Jansen. One of the key strategies of creating a plc is sharing powerful stories.  Stories emotionally engage people and asking the right questions draw out these stories. There is authenticity in sharing what is personally important. We empower, partner and write new stories together.

A few weekends later, I went to Manila with some teacher friends to visit and learn more about Kids International Ministries. I really appreciate that in every project, they take the time to get to know and work alongside community members–to really invest in the people and support local organizations already there who are working to build up and strengthen the community.

The people we met in the Philippines have such a friendly demeanor and they really caused me to pause and think. Knowing that we were only there for the weekend yet still taking the time to share with us, to tell their story and want to hear ours…it was an honour to have the opportunity to spend time with them.

Hong Kong being such a transient city and living here for a decade now, I find it emotionally draining having to constantly say goodbye to people. I was reminded that in continuing on with our journeys, no matter how long or short we’ve known someone, our paths have crossed, our stories have met and that’s a gift.  It makes us who we are.

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Their story, yours and mine — it’s what we all carry with us on this trip we take, and we owe it to each other to respect our stories and learn from them.

—William Carlos Williams

So take the time to listen. Listen to the stories of others.
Care.
Share your story.
Connect, reflect, learn and grow.

stories, connections, community

So many great learning opportunities teaching and living in Asia.  Last weekend I was in Kuala Lumpur for the EARCOS Leadership Conference and this weekend I’m at the GIN Conference in Singapore. Both very new and different experiences. There is much to process from the ELC and now, even more ideas, conversations and learning taking place here with the HS students to add to the mix.

Not being in an administrative role, it was interesting to meet and interact with so many administrators and school leaders in KL. We often do not see or are unaware how administrators connect with the day to day of learning and school life. I was most encouraged by those I spoke with and learned from–to be reminded of their passion and vision and to see that they are truly invested in what they are doing in promoting and supporting growth and change in their school communities.

Here at GIN, the dedication and excitement of so many HS students is amazing.  Seeing them in action here–building relationships, engaging each other in dialogue over Rischard’s 20 global issues, collaborating, planning…is truly inspiring.

Too often  we compartmentalize people into roles and default to the If only they would mentality. Over these two weekends though, I have seen people take ownership and action. We need to continue to share our stories, connect, and build community for change.