A Focus on Managing Change & Leadership Practices

Principal, Director, Dean... regardless of the title, school leaders are always striving to bring learning, teaching, and technology together for district-wide success. While working with schools and districts from across the country (and around the globe), the team at Atomic Learning has noticed some common themes on the minds of leaders at all levels, including increasing student engagement, enhancing teaching and learning, and ensuring school safety—among others.

To help, we've created specialized learning modules for leadership focused on on some of the most prominent issues facing education today, including:

https://cdn.atomiclearning.com/thumbnail/TID_5571.jpgEffective Walkthroughs
The walkthrough process is one of the most powerful tools an administrator can use to help improve instruction and learning. In this module, you will learn strategies for improving the walkthrough and evaluation process, and increasing effective feedback to teachers.

https://cdn.atomiclearning.com/thumbnail/5519.jpgEffective Leadership Teams
Whether you are looking to strengthen an existing team or build an effective staff of school leaders, this in-depth learning module focuses on understanding the critical components of a strong leadership team, breaking down the role the team plays, and improving communication.

https://cdn.atomiclearning.com/thumbnail/5506.jpgRTI for Data-Driven Instruction
An effective RTI program maximizes time while focusing on data and differentiated instruction. This module details a system using a single skill focus with data sheets to keep collaboration and instruction centered on student growth.


Evaluating Technology Resources
With so many resources and tools available, but what tools are worth the money and which will have the greatest impact on instruction and student learning? This module focuses on strategies for effectively evaluate available resources and tools, including a checklist for use when items are requested.

https://cdn.atomiclearning.com/thumbnail/rtc_A04_04.jpgOvercoming Resistance to Change
This module on change management explores why people are resistant to change, why resistance to change is a natural human response, and how individuals and leaders can best address this resistance to improve the odds of success. Also included, is discussion around the common reasons changes fail.

https://cdn.atomiclearning.com/thumbnail/HCD_358_how_do_i_make_a_threat_assessment_thm.jpgPersonal Safety Awareness
Developed by former Navy SEALs, these highly-specialized learning resources draw upon their combined expertise to help ensuring learners know how to trust their instincts, increase their observation skills, and develop an action plan for when faced with potential threats.


And these are just a small sampling.

Be sure to check out hundreds of other courses by logging in or setting up 7-day trial access.

How Hoonuit Can Benefit Your District: Leadership

Hoonuit by Atomic Learning offers professional learning designed to meet the unique needs of schools and districts—including top concerns that school leaders, as well as school board members, may have.

We've gathered a few of our favorites, that we thought you might be interested in:

School Leaders:
Address top concerns around student engagement, teaching, safety, and more with online professional learning on:
   -  Effective Walkthroughs
   -  Evaluating Technology Resources
   -  An RTI Process for Data-Driven Instruction

School Board Members:
Stay current on important education topics that support existing initiatives, such as:
   -  Building an Effective Leadership Team
   -  Personal Safety Awareness

2 Insights for Leaders on Connecting with the School Community

This blog post is based off on an upcoming online course called “Connecting Through Vulnerability” by Dr. Matthew Arau, that will soon be available on Atomic Learning. Dr. Arau is an Assistant Professor at Lawrence University and has a background in student leadership. (More about Dr. Arau)

Have you had a teacher or college professor in the past that was a wealth of knowledge, but seemed unable to connect to the students? Because of that lack of connection, the students in that course were most likely disengaged or mentally checked out. On the flip side, there are also those instructors that are able to truly connect what they know with their students and engage in the learning process.

We all have had those teachers or instructors from the past that fit both scenarios. But, what’s the difference? That is what Dr. Matthew Arau calls “the missing link”, and he believes it is often connection and vulnerability.

Why Connecting?

In his online course, Dr. Arau tells a story of when he was teaching high school several years ago. Specifically, how he was able to easily develop friendships with his students, and had no problems having great conversations with them. However, the moment he took the podium, that connection seems to dissipate.

It wasn’t until a colleague mentioned how differently he carried himself when he was up in front of the class that he realized he was trying to be someone he wasn’t and it was negatively effecting his connection with the students.

The solution: He simply needed to be himself and be authentic.

That realization helped him understand the importance of connection.  When we connect, we can both increase learning and enjoyment of learning.

Dr. Arau’s story could also be true of school administrators, fellow teachers, and staff members. By being authentic and yourself, you can help create connections that will build and strengthen the greater school community.

Why Vulnerability?

Have you ever noticed that when you share a personal story–maybe even something slightly embarrassing– it opens a connection with the person you were speaking with? By sharing, you open the door for others to feel welcome to share something a little vulnerable about themselves.

The more vulnerable you are, the more connected you can feel with your audience. Sharing personal stories of struggles and real life can have a profound effect. When we as humans see somebody being vulnerable and speaking about their fears, hopes, or frustrations, we see them as being courageous.  

The more vulnerable you are with your intended audience, the greater the connection.

Some Strategies to Try:

While these things may sound overly simple, or perhaps even silly, they can have a big impact on first impressions and connections. Whether you are connecting with teachers, students, parents, or other stakeholders, be aware of the following:

  • When someone walks into your office or classroom, greet them at the door and learn their name as fast as possible. Everyone wants to be acknowledged by name.

Learning Industry Leaders' Perspectives on #EdTech (As Seen in @USAToday)

Recently, Atomic Learning's CEO, Lisa Barnett, was interviewed on the state of educational technology in today's schools. Below is an excerpt from the article, Ed-Tech Pros Talk Education Transformation, as seen in USA Today.

How has technology transformed our way of looking at education?
Lisa Barnett: Kids have been using technology tools from a very young age to learn everything from counting to coding, which has created a generation of learners who are used to having information at their fingertips 24/7. The modalities they’re accustomed to are very interactive and tailored to their needs and interests. If these kids are asked to sit and listen to long periods of lecture in a classroom, how well do we think they’re going to respond? Education is transforming to respond to the needs of this new generation. Education is adapting to this new idea of personalized content. There are now many resources that offer different ways to learn the same concept, so if one method doesn’t work, another can quickly be found that will. Technology can also provide fantastic assistance in the area of accessibility and accommodations to even further meet the needs of individual learners.

How are technology products improving student outcomes in the classroom?

Lisa Barnett:Technology can be an amazing facilitator of differentiation techniques by providing additional resources and tools that will give teachers far more ways to differentiate for content, process, and product. We know that differentiated instruction can directly impact student outcomes as it tailors the educational experience to the needs of the students. Technology can also help efficiently measure student outcomes and analyze this information in new ways to provide the best learning experience possible for each individual learner.

Personal Safety Tip: Location, Location, Location

If you are ever faced with a potentially dangerous situation and need to make a 911 call, do you know where you are? Not just your general location, but details such as the street you are on and the building or house number?

Unlike with traditional home phones, a mobile phone may not allow a 911 operator to determine your exact location. Always make a conscious effort to be aware of your surroundings and know your location—you never know when you may need it.

Did you like this personal safety tip? Receive 4 more!

The Importance of Teaching Personal Safety (& How To Do It Right)

Did you know that many teens and young adults are victims of violent crime? The statistics shown here, shared by the U.S. Department of Education, may be startling to many.

Today’s world can be a dangerous place for teens and young adults, and getting them to be interested in and empowered by the concept of personal safety is a daunting responsibility. One that leaves many education leaders wondering how to better engage students and “meet them where they are at” when it comes to providing them with the skills they need to take ownership of their safety.

The Safety Mindset Gap

Guest blog post by Lisa Barnett (@atomic_lisa), CEO of Atomic Learning and Versifit Technologies.

I’m a parent.  As I’m sure any of you who also have children or grandchildren can relate, there is nothing in this world that matters more to me than my daughter.

So here’s something that causes a knot in my stomach. 

Almost half1 of young adults are, or will be, the victim of a violent crime – half!  Here’s another sobering stat (especially as the parent of a daughter) – every two minutes2, someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted. 

Final reality check – I know (because she tells me) that my daughter is surrounded by individuals who are using drugs every day.  And even if she continues to make smart choices, she is still at risk of the behaviors that people in an altered state can exhibit.

So on the flip side of this, college and high school campuses are investing heavily in emergency blue lights, security officers, electronic locks, and more.  In fact, by 2017, annual spending on school security systems is expected to reach $4.9 billion3. Clearly, our school leaders are taking this problem on full force and investing in ways to increase the safety of the school environment.

So where is the gap?

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.

Ask, Listen, Understand: Creating Conditions for Change

George Couros (@gcouros), a well-recognized education speaker and consultant, recently posted an article titled, "3 Questions Crucial to Creating the Conditions for Change", where he states:

Frustration is an easy emotion when you either see opportunities for change in our work, but don’t see others moving to the point that you have envisioned.  In one day, I remember talking to a group of administrators, teachers, and parents, and I noticed something amazing.  When working with the teachers, there was a comment that they wanted change, but were blocked by their administrators and parents within the community, some of the administrators said they were slowed by the teachers and parents, and then the parents said (I bet you can see where this is going) said they wanted something different but the schools (educators and administrators) were not making it happen.

The mindset was that change was something in the control of others, when reality states that we are often our own barriers to the change process. If we want to create conditions where others see the importance of and are willing to embrace change, it does not start with giving answers, but asking questions, listening, and understanding.

One resource that can help you better understand the various mindsets of individuals at your school or district is this free downloadable resource on Understanding the Technology Adoption Curve in Education, which explains key steps to a successful technology implementation using the Technology Adoption Lifecycle, a theory that was expanded on by Dr. Geoffrey Moore in his book "Crossing the Chasm," that explains the bell curve of technology implementations.

This resource includes details on how to motivate individual learners at all stages of technology adoption, as well as providing tips on professional development paths and insightful 'demotivators' to help you avoid pitfalls that can throw your initiative off course.

Download Now.

Focus on Learning Series: Creating Authentic Learning

This article was originally posted on the Connected Consulting blog by Drew McConnell.

Listen here.

Chris had a story to tell. He had thoughts, ideas, and interests he wanted to express. The only question was how. Then Chris heard about Film Fest, a month long event at his school where students work together to write, film, direct, and produce their own short films. Immediately Chris knew this was his opportunity to express his ideas. The only problem was Chris didn’t know the first thing about film-making. He was a decent writer, but his film-making experience consisted of taking videos of his dog with his smart phone. Luckily for Chris, his school’s goal was not just to provide students with the opportunity to express themselves, but the tools, skills, and resources with which to do so.

Focus on Learning Series: Learning as a Global Community

This article was originally posted on the Connected Consulting blog by Drew McConnell.

In his book “The Neuroscience of Education: Optimizing Attachment and Learning in the Classroom”, Louis Cozolino highlights the origin of learning as a means of communal survival.

In the days before modern society, learning was not a means of individual success or achievement, but a mutually beneficial process for members of a community. It was founded upon relational bonds. Elders created strong social bonds by caring for youths, and in turn youths imitated and learned from elders.

Cozolino says, "In these naturally occurring, attachment-based apprenticeships, learning is interwoven with the behaviors and biochemistry of bonding. In tribal societies, teachers and students are bound together in affection, kinship, and mutual survival.” He goes on to describe the learning environment as a place where “students and teachers join together to gather food, solve physical and social problems, and defend the community against external attack.” In a tribal community, learning “curriculum” is based on “the practical tasks of daily life and the evolving needs of the community.”

This idea that learning is a means of communal development and not individual achievement is a profound idea for our modern-day multicultural society. Particularly in Western culture, we idealize individual achievement. We focus on individual skills and achievements at the expense of communal progress.

Explore Learning Methodologies with this Workshop

The landscape in education has changed immensely in the past thirty years, but has not kept pace with the changing landscape of our society. In this workshop, Billie McConnell takes a look at how we have traditionally approached education, and what new approaches we should take to prepare students to be life-long learners.

Creating Lasting Change

We all know that change is hard... 

From a leadership perspective, it's only more so.

But why is it so difficult?

And, more importantly, how do we overcome resistance?

Survey Findings: What Contributes to a Positive School Culture

A recent survey by ASCD SmartBrief revealed key indicators of how school leaders can create and maintain a positive school culture, namely by committing to both staff and student learning, having a shared vision, and nurturing teachers as leaders.

While it's actually a close second on the list, creating a shared vision that focuses on learning is an effective way to accomplish all three.

To help you get started creating such a vision, Atomic Learning has worked with the experts at Connected Consulting to design an in-depth Collaborative Planning Workbook that pinpoints areas for consideration and further development by asking critical questions that many districts fail to consider, particularly when implementing a 1:1, mobile, or other tech initiative.

Ready to take your district to the next level and ensure everyone is focused on learning? Get started today by requesting more information, including complete details on how to create a customized plan to maximize learning outcomes.

Focus on Learning Series: A Coach's Perspective on the School Reform Battle

This article was originally posted on the Connected Consulting blog by Dr. Billie McConnell.

There is a battle in our society between school reform with technology and doing a better job with our traditional practices. We all believe that we must do a better job of educating our students, but while we argue, our kids are losing.

Should we have standardized tests?

Should we develop “21st Century Skills”?

Should we implement technology?

Should we change the way we teach?

. . . the list goes on and on.

My concern is what each side uses to argue their point. Many instructional technologists argue that technology is the key to real change and traditionalists argue that the “research-based” methods we have been using to teach for decades are effective. Then, of course, we have a lot of people that don’t know what to think. From what I have seen in how both sides are implementing their beliefs in many schools today, they are both wrong. But coaches may have the answer.

Dealing with Change in Your District

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.

Focus on Learning Series: Process vs. Product

This article was originally posted on the Connected Consulting blog by Drew McConnell.

David was a university student. He had a creative mind and a penchant for media. At the time, I was a technology trainer and media assistant at the same university. I helped students and faculty learn to use a variety of technology and software. Our number one rule as media assistants was to not touch the mouse when assisting people.


This was not to be mean or to avoid spreading germs, but to follow the fundamental idea that in order for someone to effectively learn a skill, they had to do it themselves. Not watch someone do it or hear someone talk about it, but actually do it.

David was a frequent visitor of our media lab. He would come into the lab, sit down at a computer, and begin working on a media project. The thing you need to know about David however, is he would come in with lofty goals for complex video and image editing projects. These projects were always well outside of his skill level, or in the words of Lev Vygotsky, well beyond his Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD).

Whenever he walked in the door, I knew it would not be long until he moseyed over to my desk to ask for help. When he inevitably did, I would oblige and sit down with him at his computer. David would then explain to me his vision for the project. Ignoring the fact that his ideas were outside his ZPD, I would begin to guide him through the process and encourage him to experiment and try things with the software to increase his skills. Without fail, five minutes into the project he would push his chair away from the desk, throw his hands up in the air, and say “You do it.”