Monday, January 26, 2015

Opportunity Knocks


If we don't have Regents exams on Tuesday we will have nothing to grade on Wednesday. This creates an opportunity. How will we fill the empty day? You have an opportunity before you. Send your principals a memo directing them to fill the day with mandated PD or perhaps allow your army of teacher-creators to convene their own meetings with the only direction to provide some new ideas about teaching and learning that may be applied to their practice. Each group can take notes on what transpired and submit that for supervision.

Is such a departure from compliance culture possible? With a "Progressive" mayor running education in this city now I would think nothing more appropriate. What would give me the moxie to propose such a departure? It appears to work in the private sector.

Take Google:
"We encourage our employees, in addition to their regular projects, to spend 20% of their time working on what they think will most benefit Google. This empowers them to be more creative and innovative." source

They give their engineers 20 percent time during their week to work on whatever they want however they want so long as it's related to Google. I proposed this to a DoE deputy Chancellor about five years ago only to have it scoffed at. But, that was a Bloomberg educational administration.

Google is not the only one doing this. Atlassian, a software developer and others also give "free time" to their creative staff. "... an increase in autonomy occurs only when
employees are truly free to work on any project they desire. Freedom to set one’s schedule
within a defined group of tasks is not the same as freedom to define one’s tasks." source This is from a study in the Journal of Strategic Leadership.

The only structure I would recommend would be to give your teachers some quiet time first for their minds to wander but on thoughts related to their teaching. Then groups convene and share, themes are identified and a regrouping along shared themes for refined collaboration with tentative proposals that offer resources and methods for experimentation and evaluation. A report is generated for the group and shared with the principal. These ideas can go to you and you can decide if another session in the Spring would be worth it. Just an idea.

Or, you could do the predicable: Common Core, Danielson, Online Grading/Smartboard Tech, Learning Board mandated, seemingly ad nauseam,  time. As for me, I believe your teachers have creative potential and don't always need to be lead by the nose to the next task. I believe they have an innate need for mastery which requires a degree of autonomy and purpose.

Not sold? Here's a brief intro by motivation expert Daniel Pink:
Believe in us Chancellor.



1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Can you hear my applause? The video clip was impressive and got me thinking about so much in terms of how I am being micro-managed and how as a teacher I want my students to be more autonomous. The problem is fear: fear of losing control and fear of failure. Until we address this we won't ever get a taste of intrinsically motivated work environments or students. I'm left wondering, is there a fear gene or is it a choice to be this way. Imagine a place where no one fears or abuses artificial power yet everyone acts in acceptable ways. Could this be the DOE one day? I'm afraid not!