Month: January 2014

How do you win? 3. Overcommunicate Clarity

Inspired by recent study of Andy Stanley and Patrick Lencioni I want to help my team “win” this semester. In order to win, we need a target. Stanley and Lencioni agree on some common principles:

1. Build a Cohesive Team who is committed to the win.

2. Create Clarity. What have we come here to do?

3. Over-Communicate Clarity. Why are we doing it?

4. Reinforce clarity. How do we do it here?

Let me say it again. In another way, perhaps that will resonate better with you.

We are moving beyond school as we knew it before. We will not mandate one reading  or math program but we will inspire curiosity-drivern, creative competence-building,  gritty, learner-centered programming. You will not hear me define us by a textbook publisher or a single pedagogical practice. You will hear me say we are researching the brains of 0-18 year olds. We are discovering what motivates, engages and challenges each kid to understand content and transfer skills. That is why are doing the workshop model. Transfer skills require algebraic thinking lessons over memorization of a math rule. Transfer requires kids to think like scientists and solve problems that no one yet knows the answer to, not just recreate experiments that have been done for years.

We are a team of learners, educators, entrepreneurs, and innovators dedicated to redesigning school to encourage and promote deeper curiosity (School of Inquiry) and create an environment that reflects the way kids naturally learn. We are a team who builds thinking routines to help students observe, question, connect, associate in order to solve real-world problems. (School of Innovation). We are a team who researches what CQ means, exposes children to the people, places, and things of the world and teaches them their responsibilities as a global citizen (School of Impact).

We are keeping up with the research of the demands in college life (College Ready) of new global opportunities (Globally Competitive), and identifying partnerships locally and globally where we can make a dent. (Engaged Citizen Leaders). We are not only preparing students for life with transferrable skills, we are letting them practice those skills now.

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Instructional Rounds

I love that fact that we at Mount Vernon are redefining the purpose of school. Being a learning organization does not only mean that we support the learning of children as our students, we also embrace the responsibility of developing every member of our community – students, parents, teachers, neighbors, and people around the world.

We are committed to doing the hard work, taking risks, failing, reflecting on our failure, and trying again. and again. and again.

Instructional Rounds were launched in the Middle School last semester, and have begun in Lower and  Preschool this semester. This process involves a set of protocols for observing, analyzing, discussing, and understanding the instruction and learning that happens in our classrooms. We look forward to the professional conversations that will begin around these observations and reflections.

Three observers became my mirror last week during our first attempt at Instructional Rounds. Here is the reflection of the Lower School faculty meeting. I invite you to join us on the journey of the practice of Instructional Rounds.

How do you win? 2. Create Clarity

Inspired by recent study of Andy Stanley and Patrick Lencioni I want to help my team “win” this semester. In order to win, we need a target. Stanley and Lencioni agree on some common principles:

1. Build a Cohesive Team who is committed to the win.

2. Create Clarity. What have we come here to do?

3. Over-Communicate Clarity. Why are we doing it?

4. Reinforce clarity. How do we do it here?

Kiran Sethi created clarity for Riverside School in India. Let’s create some clarity at Mount Vernon.

We are building a different kind of school where we can prototype learning environments and learning experiences. We believe kids need the opportunity to engage in the world now. They need a chance to be creative and collaborative. They need a chance to practice and to fail. To try again, and to fail again. Children deserve opportunities to think and choose rather than doing what they are told.

When asked, “How do you know?” We want children to reply, “I know because I tried it. I know because I did it myself. I know because I saw it with my own eyes or felt it with my own hands.” It is not enough for a child to know because his teacher told him so.

We are not a school of obedience, we want to inspire creativity, initiative, and resourcefulness. Do we want compliant kids or self-directed kids? We want kids who will think like entrepreneurs.

How do we make school a better match the way kids naturally learn? How do we help students to have a growth mindset? “I can” learning must be embedded in real-world context. We are aware of the need to redesign school; we are able to make a difference and feel empowered to lead this charge.

Does that give you any clarity?

How do you win? 1. Build a Cohesive Team

#i471

#i471

Inspired by recent study of Andy Stanley and Patrick Lencioni I want to help my team “win” this semester. In order to win, we need a target. Stanley and Lencioni agree on some common principles:

1. Build a Cohesive Team who is committed to the win.

2. Create Clarity. What have we come here to do?

3. Over-Communicate Clarity. Why are we doing it?

4. Reinforce clarity. How do we do it here?

We have built a cohesive team of high performing people. Our teachers are innovative, dedicated and passionate about their work. We have created a culture of thinking in Lower School by embracing design thinking and visible thinking as a way of life. Our team of teachers allow students to set their own norms for the school year rather than telling them what the rules will be. Our team of teachers set up mystery skype read alouds to give students the opportunity to interact with other children all over the world. We seek to make the strange familiar and the familiar strange.

Our teachers serve on panels and hear students express POV statements and deliver pitches for ways to make a dent in the world. Our teachers  agree to participating in Instructional Rounds to better their practice and do missionary work over Christmas break to better the world. Our team has a growth mindset.

We are a team who starts with questions, shares the well, assumes the best, fails up, and enjoys the ride. This high performing team needs extraordinary clarity about what we are doing. Increased clarity will help us accelerate organizational change. 

a new year; a new opportunity

January 6 offered a new opportunity as a leader and as a learner. I stood before our Lower School Team on Monday morning to kick off the second semester of the year of “How Might We?”. I recognize that everything I did last week sent a message about the way I think and feel about our second semester together. So, I started the year with questions: 1. Would I be doing this work even if I weren’t getting paid? 2. Am I doing this work as unto the Lord? I  shared the well by serving warm coffee and a sweet treat. We had fun together by taking time to laugh. And I took risks with my team even failing in my risk taking. Welcome back!