Monthly Archives: June 2011

What’s The Right Question About Motivating Students

For a long time, I’ve been working with educators on motivating underachievers.

But recently, I caught a piece of a presentation and the presenter said that “How do I motivate my students (or your team or your staff…)?” is the wrong question. She went on that this implies that you want to manipulate them to do something they don’t want to do.

That struck me, since it isn’t uncommon for an attendee at one of my trainings to act disappointed that I would not be providing directions on how to change the students or that I was suggesting that they (the educator) were the one who needed to do something different.

The presenter the other day went on to say that instead we should ask, “How do I create the conditions so that my students are self motivated?” And I have to admit that I do really like this question.

And even though I’ll continue to refer my my work as motivating underachievers, the Focus Five are exactly that: the conditions necessary for students to be self motivated.

We Have Our Second Graduate!

Corey earned his diploma!

Recently, my wife and I got to attend a special graduation.

Corey is my second student from the virtual project-based program to earn his high school diploma!

The virtual project-based program allows students to earn credit by designing and doing projects that they correlate to state learning targets. They earn the credit for their projects as soon as they complete them (demonstrating mastery of those learning targets), which makes the program great for kids who are behind in credits or have been out of school. It is a program, so students remain associated with their sending school.

Corey is a pretty normal kid, loves to play baseball and hanging out with his friends, but health issues had made it difficult for him to keep up academically. The virtual program provided the flexibility for Corey to complete his graduation requirements so he could march with is classmates. Corey worked hard, earning 7 credits in 8 months!

Corey will be attending college in the Fall, where he will be playing baseball.

Way to go Corey!

Update on Auburn’s iPads in Kindergarten

Auburn Kindergartener with his iPad

Well, we’ve had Kindergarteners with iPads since mid May, and it has been awesome!

We rolled out iPads to 5 Exploration Classrooms (about 100 students) so those teachers could help us find apps that helped us meet our curricular goals, establish classroom procedures for working with the iPads, and generally help us test out our program before beginning the pilot with all 16 kindergarten classrooms in the fall.

Recall that Advantage 2014 is Auburn School Department’s k-3 literacy and numeracy initiative.

Watch the Spring update.

Leadership for Change – Part 2 – A Model for Large-Scale School Change

In Leadership for Change – Part 1, I introduced the idea that large scale school change, change that really redefines the way things are done in school, requires careful attention to implementing the right components in a thoughtful way.

In this post, I’d like to introduce a model for large scale school change: the Lead4Change Model. It tries to make clear the desired outcome, the critical components, and the supporting but necessary componenets.

The overarching goal within the Lead4Change model is Learning. Although this may seem obvious, it is surprising how many times the goal of an initiative becomes (either officially or in practice) about some other aspect: about the technology involved, about a program, about an organizational structure, or about a new curricular resource. There is no doubt that these might be important pieces or contributors to the initiative, but in and of themselves, they are not sufficient reason to do any initiative. Why bother implementing anything within schools if it does not help to move the mission forward, to further the learning of young people? Keeping this key desired outcome in the forefront of their minds will help change leaders make the right decisions while working on each of the other components.

Probably the best evidence of Learning are the future accomplishments of students. Unfortuately, schools don’t have the decade or more it takes gather this evidence. We can fall back on more conventional measures, such as assessments, grades, or student work. Other secondary indicators can be equally as useful: attendance, behavior, engagement, and attitude.

There are two Critical Components to the Lead4Change model: Leadership and Teacher Practice. These are the most important components of the school change model and need the most careful attention. All other components of the model are there to help these two be effectively implemented.

As pointed out in the Part 1 post, leadership is everything when it comes to school change. This critical role doesn’t necessarily need to be played by the superintendent or the principal, but the pieces of the Leadership component need to be evident within the initiative. These include building a common vision, expectancy, supervision for level of implementation, policies and procedures, a safe environment, and that change is someone’s job.

Where Leadership creates the necessary conditions at the school or district level for implementing the change, the classroom is where the rubber meets the road. Teacher Practice is the second Critical Component of the Lead4Change model. It’s pieces include engaging teaching, classroom management and planning, and level of implementation.

There are five Supporting But Necessary Components within the Lead4Change model: Funding, Partnerships, Resource Management, Branding and Buzz, and PD for Paradigm Shift. Each of these is important to a well implemented initiative, one that successfully changes how schools work and therefore the amount of learning that takes place there. But it is important to remember that each of these five is in service to the Critical Components.

Making large-scale school change requires schools o think differently about funding. As a component of this model, Funding includes these pieces: seed money, “we’ll find a way” attitude, savings from avoided costs, and sustainable and integrated funding.

Partnerships are key to successfully implementing change initiatives. There are three types of partners that assist with this work: cheerleading partners, pedagogical partners, and implementation partners.

Resource Management is all about providing teachers and leaders with what they need to successfully implement the change. This component includes having what folks need when they need it, “we’ll find a way” support, and that “stuff just works.”

Public schools aren’t good at marketing. They have rarely had to do it in the past; the really prestigious private schools are much better at it. But in this era of competing for shrinking resources, and needing to make some fairly substantial changes, schools need to focus on Branding and Buzz. Branding and Buzz includes naming the initiative, stating your case, communicating with your community and beyond, telling your stories, presenting your evidence, and dealing with controversy.

Large-scale school change often includes having educators do things that are outside their experienced base and that they have never done themselves. That’s why large-scale school change involves paradigm shifting and why professional development needs to be different than the kinds of training schools are used to conducting. PD for Paradigm Shifting includes models, play-debrief-replay, coaching, just-in-time support, and building a human network.

So there it is, the Lead4Change model. Learning is the key desired outcome. Leadership and Teacher Practice are the critical components. And the Supporting But Necessary Components include Funding, Partnerships, Resource Management, Branding and Buzz, and PD for Paradigm Shift.

In the future, I’ll blog about these components and some of their pieces. But in the meantime, does this model make sense? Have I missed someone important? What are your thoughts?