Many educators feel isolated in the teaching profession, left alone with their students, figuring out new curriculum and new initiatives independently, frequently re-inventing the wheel without the support of other colleagues because of the lack of shared planning time. Classrooms become islands cut off from the mainland school community. I am fortunate to work at Birmingham Covington School, a building that actively supports teaming, collaboration and developing professional learning communities. I work with and learn from amazing colleagues every day and feel very much connected to the wider school population. After attending the Microsoft Global Forum in Prague however, I realize that even an innovative building like mine can become an island, isolated from other innovative schools with whom we can share and learn and grow.
Covington was selected as a Microsoft Pathfinder School this year and at the forum we were fortunate to connect with school leaders from similar schools around the world. Organized into a smaller global cohort of schools, we were introduced to our mentor school, Botany Downs Secondary College in NewZealand. BDSC has already been through the Pathfinder process and for the next year will serve as our guide as we focus on leading innovation, applying human-centered, design-led innovation strategies and processes to address issues of importance to 21st century leadership and learning.
After building connections within our coaching teams we explored global trends currently shaping education. We discussed the value in asking disruptive questions and possibility thinking, “The impossible-what nobody can do until somebody does.” This was followed by presentations from leading experts on issues such as personalized learning, game-based learning, 1:1 Learning, project-based learning, virtual learning and learning environments and spaces. Over the course of the next few days we had opportunities to sit in small groups with people like Chris Gerry, the designer of New Line Learning and Cornwallis Schools in Kent, Larry Rosenstock founder and CEO of High Tec High , and Donald Brinkman , champion for the Just Press Play Project to name a few. To engage with these leaders on such an intimate level was an honor and provided invaluable opportunities for us to learn about future focused possibilities and how they relate to BCS.
By the end of the week my head was simply spinning with ideas and notions that I had never even previously considered. I was just at the point of overload when Simon Breakspear, an educational researcher, consultant and leader in adaptive leadership, pulled me back from the edge. He identified five key strategies for successful global practice.
Question in the Pursuit of Better-smart may have all the answers but stupid has all the interesting questions
Embrace Permanent Beta Mode-we are always looking to improve, to make things better
Harness Your Network- connectivity makes it easier to create ideas in conjunction with others
Develop a Bias Towards Action-just get going, consider the minimal viable product
Reframe Failure-fail fast, fail forwards
The year ahead is going to be an exciting time to be a part of BCS. Having been afforded this wonderful opportunity I know our school leaders will embrace adaptive mind frames to continue to drive change in our community. As we commit to action, sharing and reflection with our new global colleagues we will be contributing to the new play book for change in disruptive times. How utterly cool is that!