Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Power of Reframing

"How do you match the right idea to the right problem, at the right time, and in the right way" is an opening line in the book by Lee Bolman and Terry Deal on the art of "Reframing Organizations." In our quest to consider the possibilities of the future in education through the lens of technology, we can use their concept of "reframing" to help us. Bolman and Deal go on to say, "An artist reframes the world to help us see new possibilities. Modern organizations rely too much on engineering and too little on art.... Art is not a replacement for engineering, but an enhancement. Artistic leaders are essential in helping us see beyond today's organizational forms that will release untapped individual energies and improve collective performance. The leader as artist will rely on images as well as memos, poetry as well as policy, reflection as well as command, and reframing as well as refitting." Within this text, the authors point out Burns' (1978) work, or the concept of transformational leaders that bring out the best in their followers, moving the organization to pursue more universal needs and higher purpose. Transforming leaders are visionary leaders and visionary leadership is invariably symbolic. More specifically, they state, "Transforming leaders use symbols to capture attention; Symbolic leaders frame experience; Symbolic leaders discover and communicate a vision; Symbolic leaders tell stories." How will we become transformational leaders in education, how will we develop the artistic ability to reframe, to see new possibilities, to create new opportunities, and to provide a new vision for the the future of our students?
We deal with people, not machines; we deal with opportunity not control; and, we deal with the future, not the past. How will we paint this canvas? How will we provide a future that truly makes a difference for our students, our society and our world?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Preparing for the Future

I am convinced that it is critically important for educational leadership at all levels, P-20, to lead the dialogue about institutional growth, instructional development, and the use of technology to help. I'm also convinced that the concept of "change" can be released as the issue. We should no longer call for institutional change. If you wake up every morning, the world has already changed, just read the New York Times or LA Times to try to keep up with innovation, global warming, or other scientific and technological advances taking place daily. At the same time we all must acknowledge this daily development. Education cannot stay static at any level. Every day, in every way, we must rethink, re-invent, or re-envision our roles to make a difference for our students. The students' world is changing daily, we must take professsional responsibility for their success. We must be the leaders in the dialogue.

Monday, October 15, 2007


Business folks use the term "reinvention" a lot. As we see the reinvention of autos (hybrids, etc) and energy (solar, wind, etc) and other areas, I think maybe it is time for us to reinvent education. Business is a competitive world - either compete for what people need or you close your doors. Service businesses are the same, either provide an appropriate service for the cost or you won't be in business very long. We should be much more like quality services in education. So what is it that stops us.....? I don't think we see ourselves as quality service providers, nor do we connect much to the outcome we get. That is why I think accountability is a good thing - we need to take responsibilty for the service we provide. Unfortunately, the policy being written for education is more about compliance to method than accountability to outcome.
There are a lot of teachers being very successful with student performance and outcome. Unfortunately, there are a whole lot more that are not. We need to provide the very best service to our students and when the servce provider is not succesful, there are only two choices - personal improvement or discontinuance of service.
Leadership is the key to looking at what we do as high quality services. We can, and must be held accountable for the services we provide (there are no excuses and it is not the students fault.) When we take responsibility for the outcomes and learn new ways to improve our skillsets, we will be successful!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Intelligent Leadership

True educational leadership has the leader focused on moving the organization, whether it be a classroom, school, district, university department or program toward improvement. True leaders can not accept the condition of stasis for their organization(s). Intelligent leadership then is the ability of the leader to understand their organizational resources - people, time, money, facilities and equipment and consider what improvement might make a difference. The intelligent leader's task is to develop the organizational culture that will support this improvement. Therefore, the key question is, "How does an intelligent leader develop the culture for continuous improvement? There are a number of books and other publications available that outline the continual improvement process for business and you might want to check them out. However, in education we know that all organizational culture is determined by the dialogue and process the leader in place uses to do his/her job. How does the leader talk about improvement? Is it in a Command ("Do what I say"), Collaborate ("How will we do this together), Consensus ("How can we all support this process?) or Convenience ("Do as you like") process? The leadership process determines the organizational culture - What leadership process will you use?

Sunday, October 7, 2007

What will educational technology do in the future?

It is fascinating to me that we can't live without technology (it is ubiquitous in new cars, appliances, electronics, etc) yet we are still talking about its value in education. Why is that? What is the problem? Why is this a conversation at all... if technology can make things easier, help motivate students, imrove student learning, and add value to what we are doing, why are we even considering this issue as a problem? I think it is more a social/cultural problem within education more than a technology problem. The Horizon Report talks about the technology that will affect the next 5 years and yet most of what they are talking about is already here and having an effect in education, because of the effect on our students (The Sun is up - not over the horizon!).