11 Insights to Shifting School Culture

School Culture. It’s one of those things that everyone seems to be talking about, but struggle to define let alone demonstrate.

George Couros, principal, author, and recognized speaker, has been a leading voice on the topic, so when we came across his article on 11 Ideas for Fostering an Innovative Culture, we had to share. (We’ve abbreviated a bit, but feel free to explore the complete article.)

  1. Embrace an Open Culture
    “…Heard of Gangnam Style“?  Me too.  In the world that we live in, ideas can spread rapidly through networks, but they have to first be visible. Using software such as “SharePoint” does not necessarily help this notion (or I haven’t yet seen examples of a viral idea being shared through “SharePoint”), but if we go to networks that are open and participatory such as YouTube and Twitter, great ideas have the opportunity to spread.  If these great ideas spread, we are more likely to create a positive culture in schools than if we kept them to ourselves…”
  2. Ensure Learning is the Focus
    “Too often when we have “edtech” positions, many educators believe that it is time to put away their math lesson and focus on using technology. This is not going to push learning ahead.  As a school division, we explicitly focus on creating positions that focus on learning first, so that innovation can come from all classes, not simply technology courses.  The focus on learning for many educators helps them to see the relevant use of technology in their classrooms and how it can transform the classroom experience.”

    Related resource: Planning with Purpose: A Look at Effective PD

10-80-10: A Model for Leading Change

The 10/80/10 model (or rule) is a theory of leadership that addresses group dynamics, and, though the theory originated in the corporate world, it is highly relevant in education as well. In the model, all the people in an institution fall into three distinct areas, with the vast majority (80%) falling into a central neutral zone, with the remaining 20% splitting equally between those that will readily embrace a change and those that protest any deviation from the norm.

Anytime that leadership must guide and transition individuals through change, such as adoption of a new technology or a shift toward learner-centered environments, these groups quickly come into focus. To better explain this, let’s look at each segment individually.

Negative 10%
This group is often identified as the “squeaky wheel”, and are highly resistant to change. While some may (eventually) transition to change with focused guidance, extra instruction, and extensive support, others simply have no desire to change current practices and behaviors.

Neutral 80%

The middle section represent the masses. Typically, those in this segment are those that don’t receive much attention because they just are. They come to work and do their job without complaint, question, or suggestion.

9 Things Tech-Savvy Teachers Do on a Regular Basis [Infographic]

A large part of being a tech-savvy teacher is being ready, willing, and even eager to try out and implement new technology tools, especially those that positively impact student learning.

A challenge of being such a teacher is the speed of technological change, which begs the question: How does one STAY tech-savvy?

8 Insights to Help Students Be Successful in College

To help prepare students to succeed in college, an article from The Washington Post listed out a variety of things that students should be aware of—or at the very least start think through—when gearing up for college.

Here are eight quick tips to share with your students:

  1. Carefully plan your first-semester schedule.
    Planning out your schedule for the year can be overwhelming.  Things to consider: If you are not a morning person, signing up for a bunch of 8 AM classes, is just not practical.  Also, try not to overload yourself. The article suggested to “take a moderate load of courses totaling no more than 12 to 18 credit hours.” Check out Atomic Learning’s How Do I Prepare for a College Workload? course to better prepare.
  2. Take your roommate agreement seriously.
    No one ever said having a roommate would be easy. Especially when living quarters or dorm rooms can be cramped. Everyone has preferences regarding study time, overnight quests, food, furniture and more. The article went on to say, “Being upfront about your expectations from the beginning can help avoid problems later.” This course on What Concerns Should I Have About a Roommate? may also help.
  3. Get involved.
    The article explains “The best way to find your niche on campus is to get involved with clubs, service work or intramural sports.” Find what you like, and it will help introduce you to others on campus interested in the same things. Careful though, try not to overcommit yourself. Watch a course on How Involved Should I Be in Campus Life? for more insights.

7 Tips to Take Ownership of Your Professional Development

While schools and districts offer formal professional development, teachers themselves also have the opportunity to learn on their own. Yet with such busy schedules, some teachers struggle to find the time or drive to participate in self-driven learning.

So why should teachers find the time? One article stated it best:

“What makes a professional stand apart from others in his or her field? Of course, she has the educational chops and the hands-on experience that makes her well-rounded and widely respected in her field. But true professionals don’t stop there. In fact, they never stop – especially when it comes to learning.”

For those looking for a place to start, we’ve gathered together seven tips to begin implementing right away: