I have never blogged 'real-time', in the 'between slots' while facilitating a professional development session - a new challenge, so here goes!
Toady, we had our December Professional Development Day. The day was co-created and tuned by our PD committee, and was a continuation of our thread of Attributes of a Sa-Hali Graduate. Now that we have landed on the attributes that we will be focusing on for the forseeable future, as a group, we wanted to start to provide some scaffolding to our staff about creativity, collaboration, and resilience. Building upon our point of inquiry of "How do we get our attributes into the heads, hands and hearts of our learners", we developed the following learning goals for the day:
- to have a better understanding of required elements for innovation to enable us to think differently about the possibilities for connecting our students to our attributes, and to bringing collaboration, creativity, and resilience to each one of our classrooms.
- to make our thoughts visible about these attributes (why they are important, where they fit, and what will challenge us in making these attributes a part of our fabric) to the entire group, and to our school community through large, visual posters created through the process of the "chalk talk" protocol
- to determine common language around creativity, collaboration and resilience through the development of 'elevator statements', statements that, when asked, provide a framework for each of us to describe what our school believes are the elements of our three attributes
- to co-develop the kick-off assembly so that it can be tuned by our community through the lens of getting our students thinking about creativity, collaboration and innovation.
We started the day watching the amazing TED Talk by innovator Guy Kawasaki. He had a 'top ten' list of things he felt were essential for innovation:
- Make meaning
- Make a mantra
- Jump to the next curve
- Roll the DICE
- Don’t worry, be crappy
- Let 100 flowers blossom
- Polarize people
- Churn, baby churn
- Niche thyself
- Perfect your pitch
He also threw in a final, 'bonus' bit of advice around ignoring "bozos" (and also described the different levels of 'bozocity' - a term that I am going to adopt). And while you can watch the video to get his entertaining clarification on each of these tips for innovation, there were a couple that resonated with me as our school goes forward on the journey to bring our attributes to life in our school, classrooms, and learners.
“Make meaning” - while a large part of the purpose for our day today is to make meaning of our attributes for ourselves, Kawasaki was referring to the idea that we need to DO things that are meaningful--meaningful for ourselves, and meaningful for others. He talked about how people who start into something to make money often aren’t doing something that is meaningful, and others start by doing something meaningful and as a result often make a great deal of money! As a school we cannot simply tell students to be creative, collaborative and resilient in order to get a better job, to have a better resume, or some other external reward-style incentive. We need to give students opportunities to do meaningful things that develop and utilize their skills of creativity, collaboration and resilience.
“Don’t worry, be crappy” - this is one that is so important for me, not because I wish for anything that we do to be crappy, but because it is ok to try something and for it not to go perfectly. Mr. Kawasaki talks about how we cannot wait for every possible factor to fall into place before we move forward; with respect to our school, we need to get going, and not worry if what we start out doing is less than perfect. In fact, I’m sure that we can end the mystery right now--no matter how we start with bringing creativity, collaboration and resilience into our school, classrooms and tasks, it WON’T be perfect. But we need to continue to iterate, and iterate some more. It is what we want our students to do, and exactly what we need to model.
As a staff, we then went to “attribute stations” where there was a short, priming video clip on creativity, collaboration, and resilience, followed by an article on each, and then “Chalk Talk”, where teachers silently wrote down and doodled their thoughts, hopes, dreams, and challenges around
implementing changes to their classes that would develop our attributes. This was powerful for me--educators silently making their thoughts visible, and others commenting on those thoughts, adding to them, and providing different perspectives--all in a non-threatening and safe environment with their peers. No one dominated the conversation, because the ‘conversation’ took place without anyone ‘speaking’. Once this was complete, each group ‘carouseled’ to the next attribute, and continued the chalk talk from the previous groups that had been there.
To close out the morning, we co-created and co-edited our “Elevator Statements”. Using Google Docs and the comment feature, we had each group create statements that thematically summarized the thoughts of our staff on each of the attributes in separate classrooms. As they did this, the other groups would go “soft on the people” while being “hard on the content” to make edits and iterations to each other’s elevator statements so the true feelings of the group would be heard. (As an aside, it is always amazing for me to see these tools in action, and to see the virtual editing that can take place to push us to create a product that more resembles what we had hoped for). In the end, each of the groups presented to the large group. Interestingly, the presentations of our “Elevator Statements” likely would have required an elevator to the moon--they were long and complex! We realized that while each of us now has a better feel for our attributes, there is still more to do in terms of clarifying our thoughts for the greater school community.
After lunch, we split into a new set of groups to get to work on our attributes assembly. With the mantra of “Hard Work, Together”, our group used a google template to develop our “to do” list for our upcoming student assembly. At this point, there was dialogue about whether we were going to be able to pull our assembly together. There were those who wanted to get going with it, as we have spent a great deal of our time over the last 16 months discussing our attributes and leading up to this 'attribute launch'. There were others who felt that because we have spent so much time and effort to get to this point that we want to make sure we do it right, because we don't want our presentation to fall on its face.
To which I injected Guy Kawasaki's statement--"Don't worry, be crappy!".
We want our kids to take risks, to try things, to really get behind something and put their all into it. To be creative in making it. To collaborate to make it better. But most of all, we want them to try something, and whether it works out or not, we want them to try again, to iterate, and demonstrate their own resilience.
If we want kids to do this, we too have to model it--to be unafraid to 'be crappy'. And so, we will go forth.
Overall, it was a very productive day for us, and while our end product for this phase of the rollout may not be perfect when all is said and done, we will iterate, and try again!
And not worry!