Tag Archives: learning

Redefine PD with the 80/20 Principle

By: Tony DePrato | Follow me on Twitter @tdeprato

A very significant part of Educational Technology Leadership is devoted to professional development, new systems implementation, and the long term planning of support.

Every year as the semester starts-up, administrators around the world are planning for professional development (PD). There is pressure during those initial weeks to try and rapidly develop the faculty within new areas, to help everyone review all current requirements, and to re-train in areas of concern. Many of these areas rely highly, or solely, upon technology; technology is often the center of the professional development process.

Year after year, group after group, and plan after plan, results tend to be the same. There is never enough time to meet everyone’s agenda, teachers feel rushed, and confidence among many is low but silenced. So why do organizations follow this same pattern?

After many years of asking this question, and proposing options, the answers seem to come down to:

  • This is the only fair way to expose EVERYONE to EVERYTHING.
  • The goal is not mastery; the goal is introduction; mastery comes later.
  • Large groups working together help to create future support groups; the process is team building.
  • Support and resources for PD are easier to manager in mass; the first week or two of the new year shift support to critical needs.

Everyone is 100% and 100% is Wrong

The Pareto principle (80/20) is taught in economics, business, marketing, etc., because when tested, it tests true.

The Pareto principle (also known as the 80/20 rule, the law of the vital few, or the principle of factor sparsity)[1] states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. (https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Pareto_principle)

For example:

  • 20% of the customers create 80% of the revenue
  • 20% of the software bugs cause 80% of the crashes
  • 20% of the features cause 80% of the usage
  • 20% of users create 80% of the technology support tickets.

80/20 is often seen as a negative metric, when in fact, is a great opportunity to improve PD outcomes.

Following the 80/20 rule, any given PD item needs to be mastered by only 20% of the organization in order for the entire organization to benefit.

As an example, an international school wanting to implement a new system like Google Apps for Education only needs to formally train 20% of the end-users in each user group (Administrators, Teachers, Students, etc.). This 20% can then work with the remaining 80% to achieve the desired results; results which are often very niche and vary by division and department.

In another case, consider a school purchasing Microsoft Surface Laptops for their staff. Only 20% of the end-users need to have the full training on the hardware and software in order to fuel the future deployment.

The optics of 100% are not really fair when the majority of the 100% are not actually gaining the information and skills need for mastery. In education there is always pressure on students to reach mastery. That same expectation should be placed on everyone, and embedded in every initiative. Organizations working towards a good introduction, are not working towards their full potential.

Words to Actions

Randomly selecting 20% of a group to master a new PD initiative is a mistake. That would only work if the entire group were known equals. New and existing staff should be surveyed to identify their current knowledge and aptitude. Identifying aptitude is essential. New initiatives tend to have a limited experienced population within the organization; but aptitude is around every corner.

Years ago I took the 80/20 approach when switching a very large campus to Apple. I made certain all required hardware and software was available for 20% of the staff before summer. I selected the staff based-on their current familiarity with Apple and their ability to work with their colleagues.

The switch went very well, and after about three weeks the technology support issues declined by 75% from the previous year. The switch to Apple while following a 80/20 implementation plan reduced the non-Apple issues as well as the issues with the new hardware.

Recently, using an 80/20 plan, I sent a core group of people for training on a new school information system. Those people were tasked at training, and evangelism, within a hostile environment.

Knowing the system was actually in competition with other plans, a final meeting was held to determine if the school would continue with the new information system. The option was on the table to remove the new and bring back the old. The old was rejected. I do not believe this would have been possible without the core 80/20 group.

Keep in mind during each of these difficult transitional experiences the remaining 80% were not always happy. They new change had arrived, they were being delayed access at different stages, and they were not being trained or equipment immediately. This was noise. And noise should never dictate a plan or process.

The optics of 80/20 do not look as “nice” compared to working with 100%. However, the outcomes will be fair, balanced, and better. Most importantly, those suffering in silence will have a smaller more agile group for support.

Take a chance. Make a change. Go for 80/20.

More 80/20 Resources

Appreciating Teachers

“[Kids] don’t remember what you try to teach them. They remember what you are.”  ― Jim Henson, It’s Not Easy Being Green: And Other Things to Consider

To all of the teachers at the American School of Brasilia and around the world: Happy Teachers’ Week! Your work, dedication, and commitment to the development of others are important and deeply appreciated. To that end, the following is a link to a previous post entitled, Why I Hated Meredith’s First Grade Teacher, which shares a moving story about the difference a teacher can make in a family’s life.

Like other schools, we are commemorating this year’s Teacher Appreciation Week with a variety of activities that include a morning breakfast, a relaxation room with professional massage therapists, the distribution of school t-shirts, an afterschool social event, and a parent and embassy sponsored evening celebration.

Given the unique honour and responsibility teachers are given to guide and support learning, these words from T.H. White are for you:

 “The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, “is to learn something. That’s the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn.”  ― T.H. White, The Once and Future King

Thank you, teachers, for supporting learning and making a real and positive difference in the lives of our students and greater communities.

Blog: www.barrydequanne.com

Twitter: @dequanne


EM PORTUGUÊS:

Agradecendo aos Professores

“[Crianças] não se lembram do que você tenta ensiná-las. Elas se lembram do que você é.” – Jim Henson, It’s Not Easy Being Green: And Other Things to Consider

Desejamos a todos os professores da EAB e ao redor do mundo: Feliz Semana dos Professores! Seu trabalho, dedicação e comprometimento com o desenvolvimento das pessoas são muito importantes e profundamente apreciados. Para isso, o link a seguir é sobre uma postagem chamada Por que eu detestei a professora da Meredith do primeiro ano, que fala sobre uma história emocionante sobre a diferença que um professor pode fazer na vida de uma família.

Este ano estamos comemorando a Semana de Agradecimento aos Professores com uma série de atividades que incluem um café da manhã, uma sala de relaxamento com massoterapeutas profissionais, um evento social após a escola e uma noite de comemoração patrocinada pelos pais (Obrigado à Organização de Pais e Mestres da EAB!).

Dada a grande honra e a responsabilidade que os professores têm ao guiar e apoiar o aprendizado, essas palavras de T.H. White são para você:

“A melhor coisa em estar triste,” respondeu Merlin, é aprender alguma coisa. Essa é a única coisa que nunca falha. Você pode envelhecer e abalar a sua anatomia, também pode ficar acordado à noite ouvindo o distúrbio das suas veias, você pode sentir falta do seu único amor, pode ver o mundo ao seu redor devastado por lunáticos cruéis ou ter sua honra pisoteada nos esgotos de mentes baixas. Então só há uma coisa para isso – aprender. Aprender porque o mundo gira e o que o faz girar. Essa é a única coisa que a mente nunca pode perder, nunca alienar, nunca se torturar, nunca ter medo e não acreditar e nunca pensar em se arrepender. Aprender é a única coisa para você. “Olhe quantas coisas existem para aprender.” – T.H.White, The Once and Future King

Agradecemos aos professores por apoiar o aprendizado e fazer uma diferença real e positiva na vida dos nossos alunos e comunidade.

Blog: www.barrydequanne.com

Twitter: @dequanne


Featured image: cc licensed (CC BY 2.0) Flickr photo by Tony 
Hammond: When It Comes to Aboriginal Art, It Can Branch Out Into 
the Imagination! 
https://www.flickr.com/photos/8525214@N06/32420843740/

The Maker Portfolio and University Admissions

By: Tony DePrato | Follow me on Twitter @tdeprato

I am always focused on the end-game. The end-game for students is the next level after they leave K-12. Preparing students to compete and succeed is difficult. There is always a huge debate over where time should be allocated, what subjects are more important, and what skills will be required ten years after graduation.

I do believe there are always trends, and finding those trends can be difficult. Most of the data we gravitate towards, is data that we are directed to look at. The trick to finding trends, is to find new questions to ask. In order to find those questions, I try and look at data through a variety of lenses.

College Admissions Data

The National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) publishes a report called the State of College Admission. I decided to research the 2014 and 2016 reports (data range from 2006-2015) after being very intrigued by a 2007 article titled, Young, Gifted, and Not Getting Into Harvard. 

The author, 

Of course, evolution is not the same as progress. These kids have an AP history textbook that has been specially created to match the content of the AP test, as well as review books and tutors for those tests. We had no AP textbook; many of our readings came from primary documents, and there was no Princeton Review then. I was never tutored in anything and walked into the SATs without having seen a sample SAT question.

As for my bean sprouts project, as bad it was, I did it alone. I interview kids who describe how their schools provide a statistician to analyze their science project data.

I started to wonder, aside from academics, are university admission processes valuing all the extracurricular work students are doing, and all the stress and time involved in this competitive process. Many extracurricular options involve technology, and require significant investment in time and money.

The data from NACAC was interesting. There are four common summary columns: Considerable Importance, Moderate Importance, Limited Importance, No Importance.

I decided only to review the change of “importance” in the No Importance category. The first three categories are variable. No Importance is not variable, it is absolute, and reflects a definitive negative statement.

The concept is fairly simply. I have 100 points. I weight each of the four categories until I run out of points. In this game, I can decide to declare something a waste of time and effort by using that last category, No Importance.

Here are the results:

Google Sheet View 

This data is troubling. Aside from IB/AP scores, most internal non-academic criteria are losing importance.

Why Has the Value Decreased?

Looking on Reddit and some forums, I found some interviews between admissions officers, students, and parents. Interestingly, I found a comments from these people that resonated with the Harvard interviewer from 2007.

A few things were clear from this small, but powerful, sample:

  • Students working on or in teams need to clearly explain their roles and their contributions; simply being on a team is not enough.
  • Students working without structure, and on original independent projects, are very interesting to the admissions team.
  • Students working inside of a managed program are not really that different from one another.

The value has not decreased, but the supply of students who are doing the same things, and have the same basic profiles, has increased. The demand for those students is lower than the demand for students who are more independent.

The Maker Portfolio

In 2013 MIT introduced a different option for admissions. They called it (and are calling it) The Maker Portfolio.  “In many respects, the Maker Portfolio has been a resounding success. Over the last two years, more than 2000 students have used it to show us the things they make, from surfboards to solar cells, code to cosplay, prosthetics to particle accelerators. We believe the Maker Portfolio has improved our assessment of these applicants and offers us a competitive advantage over our peers who have not developed the processes to identify and evaluate this kind of talent.”~Chris Peterson, Hal Abelson

Since then, a quick Google Search will reveal other universities are aligning with MIT. Washington University, Tufts, Carnegie Mellon, Stanford, California College of the Arts, and more are now offering this option for admissions.

What does this all mean to K-12 education and educational technology?  Activities that used to be hobbies, now need to be student lead within the curriculum. Students need to find an interest, and develop it themselves with as little support as possible. A student should be able to articulate their specific contributions, failures, and growth through a variety of methods, and in a very succinct manner.

Technology investment must shift not only to equipment and resources that allow students to plan and create, but also to systems that will help schools optimize schedules and planning to ensure academic rigor is not sacrificed.

I encourage everyone to review all the resources that went into this post, and I leave you with this comment from Chris Peterson from the MIT Admissions department, “Sometimes students ask me if MIT wants students who are well-rounded. I usually say I don’t care as much if you’re well-rounded or pointy, what I care about is evaluating the space enclosed by the shape.

Resources

  1. Young, Gifted, and Not Getting Into Harvard
  2. Former Ivy League admissions officer reveals how schools pick students
  3. Hi I’m Nelson Ureña, I am a former admissions officer from Cornell and currently an admissions counselor
  4. 10 College Admissions Secrets: An Inside Look From an Elite College Counselor
  5. 3 Hooks in College Admissions
  6. When Makers Apply to College
  7. I’m an MIT Admissions Officer & longtime FIRST person, AMA
  8. Admissions Revolution As 80 colleges unite to create new application and portfolio platform
  9. 2016 State of College Admission Report from NACAC
  10. 2014 State of College Admission Report from NACAC

 

 

 

Parent Partnerships

An effective educational program requires full and shared participation from students, parents, and the school. Similar to a tripod in which all three legs are needed to provide support, a student’s development and realization of potential will not be fully achieved if even one of the legs – students, parents, and school – is not fully engaged in the learning process.

While we often talk about the role of students and schools in education, it is also important to reflect on the role parents play in student development. To that end, I would like to take this opportunity to express, on behalf of our community, our deep levels of gratitude for the positive difference parents make in the development of EAB’s programs, contributions to our school’s growth, and the learning experienced by our students.

What does an effective parent partnership look like? The Inclusive Schools Network emphasizes that effective parent partnerships are built on three guiding principles: Respect, Responsibility, and Relationships.

With a primary focus on meeting student needs, an effective partnership is one that is built on mutual respect in which both the school and parent contributions are valued. Together, the family and the schools’ perspectives are invaluable to the educational process. This is why the focus on parent involvement in decision-making processes and the commitment to seek parent feedback is of paramount importance. With respect also come recognition of limits and an understanding of corresponding responsibilities.

Joyce Epsteen, the director for The Center of Parent School and Community Partnerships at John Hopkins University, effectively frames the focus on responsibility: “Our charge is to create parent-friendly schools and school-friendly homes”. A parent-friendly school is responsible for ensuring an inclusive environment that is committed to working with all students and families and creating structures that enable parents to be full partners in the learning process. A school-friendly home is responsible for reinforcing the school’s values and educational program. There is also a key responsibility for both partners to ensure that communication is constant, two-way, and meaningful. The large number of parent participation, workshop, and feedback opportunities offered by EAB and the similarly large number of parents who attend these events is an encouraging indicator that there is a high degree of responsibility assumed by both the school and parents towards the development of our students.

The third guiding principle is relationship building, which represents the foundation of any effective partnership. With a strong focus on trust, collaboration, and communication, we must ensure that there is an opportunity to contribute, make a difference, and feel valued as members of a dynamic community.

Yes, this can be hard work and there may be times when everyone may not always be in agreement. However, it is the common goal of providing our students with the best possible educational program that reinforces our focus on the ideals associated with respect, responsibility, and relationships.

Finally, in relation to the theme of parent partnerships, I would like to thank our parent volunteers as the extent to which they support EAB is both heartening and inspiring. The support from parents in the last few weeks alone has ranged from the work of the Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO), to the organization of Silent Auction during last weekend’s World Fest, to serving on the Canteen and Food Services Committee, to donating to EAB’s Envision program, to serving as members of EAB’s Board of Directors, to name but a few examples. The hard work and commitment of our parent volunteers makes a real difference in our school and is greatly appreciated by the EAB community.

Blog: www.barrydequanne.com

Twitter: @dequanne

Reference:

Williams, P. (2015). HOW DO WE BUILD EFFECTIVE PARENT-SCHOOL PARTNERSHIPS IN INCLUSIVE SCHOOLS? Retrieved from http://inclusiveschools.org/how-do-we-build-effective-parent-school-partnerships-in-inclusive-schools/


PORTUGUESE VERSION

Parceria Com os Pais

Um programa educacional eficaz requer a participação plena e compartilhada dos alunos, dos pais e da escola. Semelhante a um tripé, onde as três pernas são necessárias para fornecer apoio, o desenvolvimento de um aluno e a percepção de seu potencial não serão alcançados se, mesmo uma das pernas, alunos, pais e escola, não estiverem totalmente envolvidos no processo de aprendizagem.

Embora muitas vezes falemos sobre o papel dos alunos e escolas na educação, também é importante refletir sobre o papel desempenhado pelos pais no desenvolvimento do aluno. Para isso, gostaria de aproveitar a oportunidade para expressar, em nome da nossa comunidade, a minha profunda gratidão pela diferença positiva que os pais fazem no desenvolvimento dos programas da EAB, nas contribuições para o crescimento da nossa escola e o aprendizado vivido pelos nossos alunos.

O que torna uma parceria eficaz? A Rede de Escolas Inclusivas enfatiza que parcerias efetivas com pais são construídas com três princípios orientadores: Respeito, Responsabilidade e Relacionamentos.

Focando primeiramente nas necessidades dos alunos, uma parceira eficaz é aquela construída sobre o respeito mútuo, no qual tanto a escola quanto as contribuições dos pais são valorizadas. Juntos, a família e as perspectivas das escolas são inestimáveis para o processo educacional. É por isso que o foco no envolvimento dos pais nos processos de tomada de decisão e, o compromisso de buscar o feedback dos pais é de suma importância. Com respeito também temos o reconhecimento dos limites e a compreensão das responsabilidades correspondentes.

Joyce Epsteen, diretora do Centro de Escola para Pais e Parcerias Comunitárias da Universidade John Hopkins, enquadra o foco na responsabilidade: “Nossa responsabilidade é criar escolas amigas dos pais e casas amigas da escola”. Uma escola favorável aos pais é responsável em assegurar um ambiente inclusivo que se compromete a trabalhar com todos os alunos e famílias e criar estruturas que permitam aos pais serem parceiros de pleno direito no processo de aprendizagem. Uma escola-casa amigável é responsável por reforçar os valores da escola e o programa educacional. Existe também uma responsabilidade chave para ambos os parceiros em assegurar que a comunicação seja constante, bidirecional e significativa. O grande número de envolvimento dos pais, workshops e oportunidades de feedback fornecidas pela EAB e o número similar de pais que participam desses eventos é um indicador encorajador de que existe um alto grau de responsabilidade assumido tanto pela escola como pelos pais em relação ao desenvolvimento dos nossos alunos.

O terceiro princípio orientador é a construção de relações, que representa a base de qualquer parceria eficaz. Com forte foco na confiança, colaboração e comunicação devemos garantir que existe uma oportunidade de contribuir, fazer a diferença e se sentir valorizado como membro de uma comunidade dinâmica.

Sim, isso pode ser um trabalho árduo e haverá momentos em que nem todos vão estar de acordo. No entanto, é o objetivo comum de proporcionar aos nossos alunos o melhor programa educacional possível que reforça o nosso foco sobre os ideais associados ao respeito, responsabilidade e relacionamentos.

Por fim, em relação ao tema parcerias entre os pais, eu gostaria de agradecer aos nossos pais voluntários, pois a forma com que eles apoiam a EAB é encorajador e inspirador. O apoio dos pais nas últimas semanas incluiu o trabalho da Organização de Pais e Mestres (PTO), a organização do Leilão Silencioso que ocorreu no World Fest no final de semana passado, o Comitê da Cantina e Serviços de Alimentos, até a doação feita ao Programa Envision da EAB associado ao desenvolvimento e levantamento de fundos, e ainda serviram como membros do Conselho de Administração da EAB, entre tantos outros exemplos. O trabalho árduo dos nossos pais voluntários faz uma diferença real na nossa escola e é muito apreciado pela nossa comunidade.

Reference:

Williams, P. (2015). HOW DO WE BUILD EFFECTIVE PARENT-SCHOOL PARTNERSHIPS IN INCLUSIVE SCHOOLS? Retrieved from http://inclusiveschools.org/how-do-we-build-effective-parent-school-partnerships-in-inclusive-schools/


Featured image: cc licensed (CC BY 2.0) Flickr photo by Christopher 
(Books): https://www.flickr.com/photos/shutterhacks/4474421855/

Viva Voce

“There are perhaps no days of our childhood we lived so fully as those we spent with a favorite book.” –Marcel Proust

Viva voce is a Latin phrase that means “with living voice” and represents an insightful way to describe one of the highlights of our school year. The dual reference of “with living voice” to signify both the concept of “word of mouth” and an oral examination, such as a thesis defense, accurately represents students’ experiences associated with our culminating International Baccalaureate (IB) Extended Essay experience.

The IB’s Extended Essay is an independent, self-directed work of research that is concluded with the writing of a 4,000-word paper. Through the process of investigating a topic of special interest, the IB highlights how students develop skills that include the formulation of a research question and the corresponding capacity to analyze, synthesize, and evaluate knowledge.

While the completion of an Extended Essay is an impressive accomplishment in itself, the American School of Brasilia extends the experience and learning through an event called Viva Voce. This special event may best be described as the verbal counterpart to the student’s written essay when our IB candidates literally talk about the passion and challenges they experienced when writing their essays. A three to five-member panel, usually comprised of parents, teachers, and students with expertise or interest in the subject, carefully read the essay and formally engage with the IB students during their presentations. The Viva Voce event is also open to our community to participate as a silent audience and, given the full attendance, there is clearly a high degree of support and interest.

Beyond this framework, what makes the Viva Voce experience so profound is the high degree of passion and engagement that students clearly convey for their research topics. It is not uncommon for students to write much more than the required 4,000 words. The following is a sample of some of the research focus areas:

  • Economics: Government’s Management of Brazil’s Electricity Sector
  • World Studies: Sustainable Fashion
  • Film: Alfred Hitchcock’s influence in film
  • Macro Economics. The effect of the Greek economic crisis in the EU.

This year, I had the honor of serving on Carolina’s panel, a student whose research question investigated the ballad structure in Oscar Wilde’s poem, “The Ballad of Reading Gaol.” While Carolina spoke to the panel and audience about both her findings and her learning, I could not help but be impressed by her reflections on how her research changed how she sees literature, human relations, and the world in general, but also by her depth of knowledge and understanding of Wilde’s work, as represented by her concluding statements:

“The author uses a poetic method as a tool of offering palpable representation of life at Reading Gaol, which causes people to feel sympathy and sadness. The convicted men inside prison are hopeful, therefore although the initial feeling is that of pity, the author transforms it into a soothing, otherworldly environment, one that proved the human soul capable of conquering the harshness of reality.”

Well done Carolina! And, well done to all Viva Voce students!

viva-voce-1

The deep learning experiences demonstrated not only by Carolina but all of our students is not the only factor that makes Viva Voce such a special experience. It is also the fact that teachers, parents, students, and members of the greater community are also participating in the learning experience. As it was the first time I had read Wilde’s Ballad of Reading Gaol, I was grateful to Carolina for sharing her analysis and introducing me to such an important work of literature. I had similar feelings last year when serving on a panel for an outstanding economics paper and was seated with a talented economist from the British Embassy and the World Bank Country Director for Brazil. While I would like to think that I made some meaningful contributions to our conversation about economics, I have no doubt that I was also a learner on this day.

While these are my personal stories, I am confident that I speak on behalf of everyone who has participated in the Viva Voce event when sharing how meaningful and transformative the experience has been for students, teachers, and parents. To that end, Viva Voce is a good example of how learning can be personalized, relevant, and meaningful. In terms of school culture, Viva Voce also embodies and exemplifies the spirit of our mission statement: Learners inspiring learners to be inquisitive in life, principled in character, and bold in vision.”

Blog: www.barrydequanne.com

Twitter: @dequanne

viva-voce-2

 

 

 

 

Our Human Tapestry

By Barry Dequanne | Follow me on Twitter @dequanne

The most moving and important testimonials about learning and school culture also come from parents, whose voices are critical to our collective partnership in support of student development. To complement last week’s post, Our Obligation, which focused on inclusion from a student’s perspective, this post shares a poignant parent reflection on the same theme.

Alex Ellis is currently serving as the British Ambassador to Brazil. Following his son Thomás’ recent graduation from the American School of Brasilia, Ambassador Ellis published the following reflections, which focus on the culture of learning and inclusion in schools.


Tomás Finished School Last Saturday

There are parents all over the northern hemisphere who in these weeks have watched or will watch their child go through this ritual, in many different forms, in the case of our son through a flick of a tassel. Each family has its own memories and stories, both similar to those of others and peculiar to themselves.

Our story includes a moment, at an earlier time, spent in a still, grey room, with sensible Flemish doctors telling us in sensible, Flemish English that our son is on the autistic spectrum. There’s no number to confirm this, no blood test. It’s the product of observation and judgment, and that knot of anxiety which has sat inside our stomachs from when Tomas’ first kindergarten teacher wondered if he might be a bit different, the apparent difficulty in hearing (tested, unproven), his slightly awkward walk, his focus on a few toys but not his classmates.

Before he was diagnosed Tomás passed through a series of small schools, mainly with the help of kind teachers, next to whom he was often standing. The diagnosis came after, at very short notice, we had moved from warm, fun Madrid back to Brussels. He plunged into a large school which quickly declared him “ineducable”. It doesn’t sound much nicer when you hear it in French. Which I did, twice, for bureaucratic reasons which were legally impeccable, financially advantageous and inhuman.

I wondered, when Tomas was diagnosed, what would happen next. “Tomorrow” is the best answer. He hadn’t changed and we hadn’t changed. We fell, and then got up. Tomas carried on, much happier at a school that took him, rather than rejected him, for who he is. The labels — Asperger’s, on the autistic spectrum, he’s quite bright but different etc — helped in the first interaction with schools. They were ready to adjust before he walked in.

Tomas got from there to here, 11 years later, because of some things he was born with; confidence, a sense of humour and a good heart. Lots of other children have those characteristics, autistic or not. Tomas had a lot of help as well. Help in the form of classroom support, and crucially from teachers who “got” him. Who saw him as different, not special, as a person, albeit in teenage form, rather than a syndrome.

This, we learnt, starts at the top. Schools are no different from any other organisation in the importance of the leader in determining and living its values. We had luck, and a bit of choice, in the two schools where Tomas spent the best part of a decade. Both heads thought that a school would gain more than lose from a boy like Tomas in it, that this was part of the world of difference in which pupils should learn. Almost without exception the pupils shared this attitude. On a rare occasion when a classmate tried to bully him, his confidence and humour dealt pretty comfortably with it.

The head teacher at the ambitious, academic school where Tomas stayed longest told me, after chatting with him, that he would take him into the school, but there would be some who wouldn’t be so keen to have him there. So it proved. Some teachers welcomed him, some wanted him out of their class. This wasn’t determined by Tomas’ abilities, but by the teacher’s confidence. Over time some teachers excluded him from classes in which he was relatively strong, whilst others kept with him in subjects (maths) in which threats, tears and bribes could not move him — I know, having tried, and failed, with all three. As exams loomed bigger, some teachers, and in rare cases some other parents, wanted Tomas out of the class for fear that he might undermine the grades of other pupils. In such situations the real values of a school become apparent.

Tomas is not easy to teach. Like a lot of kids on the autistic spectrum, he’s pretty autodidactic (and I should thank The Simpsons, Futurama and Cartoon Network for their significant contribution to his education). And he tells it as he sees it, which can be uncomfortable. The new music teacher in one school, fresh from university, might have hoped for a different opening to his career than Tomas asking to see his qualifications.

But the good teachers, and there were a lot of them, got past this or better still embraced this as part of what Tomas brought to the classroom, to the school — and also knew that the second is a lot ore than just the first. Last week, after Tomás stepped up to get an arts prize, to his father’s bursting pride and his own mild indifference, a teacher referred to the support for him from “the school community”. She was quite right. It did, for our son, take just that community to help get him through his education.

So this one goes out, yes, to the son I love. But it also goes out to every member of those school communities, teachers, administrators, security guards, classroom helpers, who saw in Tomas not a potential spoiler of grade averages or a “special” pupil to be kept in a “special” place but rather saw him for what he was — another flavour in the very wide variety that is the human race.

Link to Original Post: Tomás Finished School Last Saturday


Versão português:

Nossa Tapeçaria Humana

Os depoimentos mais emocionantes e importantes sobre a aprendizagem e cultura escolar também vêm dos pais, cujas vozes são fundamentais para a nossa parceria em prol do desenvolvimento do aluno. Complementando a postagem da semana passada, A Nossa Obrigação, cujo foco foi a inclusão de acordo com a perspectiva de cada aluno, a publicação abaixo compartilha a reflexão comovente de um pai sobre o mesmo tema. Alex Ellis está servindo atualmente como Embaixador Britânico no Brasil. Logo após a formatura do seu filho Thomas, na Escola Americana de Brasília, o Embaixador Ellis publicou a seguinte reflexão, que incide sobre a cultura de aprendizagem e inclusão nas escolas.


Tomás terminou a escola no último Sábado

Nessas últimas semanas, pais em todo o hemisfério norte foram ou vão assistir seus filhos passarem por esse ritual, de formatura, nas mais diversas formas; como no caso do nosso filho Tomás que passou a corda do capelo do lado direito para o lado esquerdo. Cada família tem suas próprias memórias e histórias, algumas semelhantes entre si — e outras completamente particulares.

Nossa história inclui um momento vivido alguns anos atrás, em uma sala ainda cinzenta, com sensíveis médicos da região belga dos Flandres nos dizendo, também de forma sensível, que nosso filho possuía um diagnóstico de espectro autista. Não há nenhum número para confirmar isso; nenhum exame de sangue. Essa conclusão é o produto único de observação e julgamento. É resultado daquele nó de ansiedade que tomou conta de nós, eu e minha esposa, quando a primeira professora de Tomás, no jardim de infância, nos chamou na escola e nos perguntou se ele era um pouco diferente; desde sua aparente dificuldade de audição (testada e não comprovada); ao caminhar um pouco desajeitado e o foco em alguns brinquedos, mas não seus colegas.

Antes de ser diagnosticado, Tomás passou por uma série de pequenas escolas, sempre com a ajuda de professores amáveis, dos quais ele quase sempre permanecia por perto. A comprovação veio logo depois que nos mudamos da quente e divertida Madrid de volta à Bruxelas, na Bélgica. Ali, Tomás foi matriculado em uma escola maior, que rapidamente o declarou como “ineducável”. Uma frase que não soa muito mais agradável quando você a escuta em francês.

Eu me perguntava, assim que ele foi diagnosticado, o que aconteceria em seguida. E o “amanhã” é a melhor resposta. Meu filho, assim como nós, não tinha mudado. Nós caímos, mas então nos levantamos. Tomás seguiu em frente, muito mais feliz em uma escola que o acolheu ao invés de rejeitá-lo por ser quem ele é. Os rótulos — Asperger, com espectro autista, “muito brilhante, mas diferente”… — ajudaram em sua primeira interação com as novas escolas. Elas estavam prontas a se adaptarem antes da nossa chegada.

Nesses últimos 11 anos, como fruto de várias características de sua natureza, Tomás adquiriu confiança, um excelente senso de humor e um bom coração.

Várias outras crianças também são assim — autistas ou não. Tomas também recebeu muita ajuda. Ajuda em forma de suporte com as atividades em sala de aula e, crucialmente, de professores que o conquistaram. Professores que o enxergaram como diferente, e não especial; como uma pessoa, ainda que adolescente, ao invés de uma síndrome.

Nós aprendemos algo desde o começo: escolas não são diferentes de qualquer outra organização no que se refere à importância de um líder que determine e estimule determinados valores. Tivemos sorte, e um pouco de escolha, com as duas escolas onde Tomás passou a maior da última década.Ambas as partes acreditaram que a escola iria ganhar mais do que perder recebendo um garoto como ele, parte de um mundo de diferenças que todos os demais alunos deveriam aprender. Quase sem exceção, todos os demais alunos compartilharam essa atitude. E na rara ocasião em que um colega tentou intimidá-lo, a confiança e o bom humor de Tomás lidaram confortavelmente com a situação.

O diretor da escola em que Tomás ficou a maior parte de sua trajetória me disse, depois de conversar com ele, que iria matriculá-lo, mas confessou que haveria algumas pessoas ali pouco ansiosas com a sua chegada. E assim foi. Alguns professores o acolheram, alguns o queriam fora de sala. Isso não foi determinado pela capacidade de Tomás, mas pela confiança de cada um dos professores. Ao longo do tempo, alguns professores o excluíram de aulas nas quais ele era relativamente habilidoso, enquanto outros continuaram com ele em disciplinas (matemática, por exemplo) em que as ameaças, as lágrimas e os subornos não conseguiam movê-lo. A medida que os exames foram aumentando, alguns professores e, em raros casos, alguns pais, queriam Tomás fora da classe — era o medo de que ele minasse os resultados dos demais estudantes. Nesses momentos, os reais valores de uma escola se fizeram presentes.

Tomas não é fácil de ensinar. Como um monte de crianças com espectro autista, ele é muito autodidata (e eu deveria agradecer Os Simpsons, Futurama e Cartoon Network por sua contribuição significativa para a sua educação). E ele diz as coisas exatamente com as vê, o que às vezes pode ser desconfortável. O novo professor de música, recém saído da universidade, talvez esperasse um início diferente para sua carreira: com certeza ele não esperava que Tomás pedisse para ver suas qualificações. Mas os bons professores, e havia um monte deles, apenas superaram essas dificuldades ou, melhor ainda, as abraçaram como parte do que Tomás trouxe para a sala de aula e a escola. Eles entenderam que os ganhos eram maiores que todos os desafios.

Na última semana, depois de Tomás ganhar um prêmio de artes, para o orgulho do pai e para sua própria indiferença, uma professora mencionou o suporte oferecido a Tomás por toda a “comunidade escolar”. Ela estava certa. Eles fizeram muito pelo nosso filho e se engajaram no desafio de ajudá-lo no caminho pela educação.

Então, sim, este texto vai para o filho que eu amo. Mas também vai para cada membro daquelas comunidades escolares, professores, administradores, seguranças e auxiliares que viram no Tomás não somente um potencial de notas medianas ou um aluno “especial” para ser mantido em um lugar “especial”, mas sim pelo que ele era — um outro sabor na variedade muito ampla que é a raça humana.

Link para publicação original: Tomás Finished School Last Saturday


Featured image: cc licensed (CC BY 2.0) flickr photo by James Cridland:
Crowd https://www.flickr.com/photos/leecullivan/240389468/

Struggle & Triumph

By Barry Dequanne | Follow me on Twitter @dequanne

“The most important thing is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.” ~ Olympic Creed

During this recent school break, I had the good fortune to spend time in Barcelona and made a point to visit the city’s track and field stadium, the site that hosted one of the most remarkable moments in Olympic history. During the 1992 summer Olympics, British athlete Derek Redmond was heavily favored to win the 400-meter event. While Redmond did not win a medal, it was his determination and courage that made his performance such an inspiration.

It was halfway through the 400 semifinal race when Redmond’s hamstring snapped and he fell to his knees in excruciating pain. After the other runners completed the race, the TV camera and the crowd return their attention to Redmond who somehow finds the strength to return to his feet and begin hopping down the track, determined to finish the race. It was at this moment that his father runs onto the track and tells Redmond that he does not need to finish the race. Redmond replies to his father, “Yes, I do.” His father replies stating that if Derrick was going to finish the race, then they were going to finish it together. The 65,000 spectators were on their feet cheering Derek and his father on with a deafening roar of support as they walked and hobbled forward and finally crossed the finish line.

Derek’s story embodies the spirit of the Olympic Creed and how the struggle in life is more important than the triumph. In this context, Yogi Berra’s words are apropos: Losing is a learning experience. It teaches you humility. It teaches to you to work harder. It’s also a powerful motivator.”  Michael Jordan has also famously spoken about how his failures have led to his success: “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” It is through adversity, failure, and challenge that we grow the most and realize a deeper sense of the human spirit.  While Derek Redmond did not win the 400-meter gold medal, his performance in Barcelona is considered to be one of the greatest moments in Olympic history.

The lesson is that there is as much triumph in defeat as in victory, particularly when triumph is in the effort and effort is everything. Redmond also reminds us that no takes an odyssey alone. Whether it is a family member, coach, mentor, friend, or teacher, we have all had someone who has supported us in terms of our growth, development, and achievements. It is through these lenses that we can view the start of another school year and our work as a community of learners.

All of us at EAB, in our roles ranging from that of a teacher, student, and family member, are on an odyssey of growth and development. EAB’s mission statement – Learners inspiring learners to be inquisitive in life, principled in character, and bold in vision – highlights this belief. And, like Derek Redmond, no one is on this journey alone. It is our focus on relationships, the deep care for each other’s wellbeing, and a belief community, that contribute to making EAB such as special school and learning environment for our students.

The opening of the 27th modern summer Olympic games will be officially celebrated in Rio de Janeiro tonight and will represent an exciting focus during the coming weeks. The performance of the athletes will no doubt provide us with inspiration as we reflect on the relevance of the Olympic Creed in relation to our own context: “The most important thing is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.”


PORTUGUESE VERSION:

 

Esforço e Triunfo

“A coisa mais importante não é vencer, mas participar, assim como a coisa mais importante na vida não é o triunfo, mas o esforço. O essencial não é ter conquistado, mas ter lutado bem”. ~ Olympic Creed

Durante as últimas férias, eu tive a sorte de passar algum tempo em Barcelona e fiz questão de visitar o campo e a pista de atletismo no estádio da cidade, local que foi palco de um dos momentos mais marcantes da história olímpica. Durante os Jogos Olímpicos de Verão de 1992, o atleta britânico Derek Redmond era o favorito para ganhar a prova de 400m. Apesar de Redmond não ter ganhado a medalha, foi a sua determinação e coragem que tornaram seu desempenho uma inspiração.

Foi no meio da semifinal de 400m que o tendão de Redmond rompeu e ele caiu de joelhos com uma dor excruciante. Depois que os demais atletas completaram a prova, as câmeras de televisão e o público voltaram sua atenção para Redmond, que de algulma forma encontrou forças para ficar em pé e começou a pular, determinado a terminar corrida. Foi nesse momento que seu pai entrou na pista e disse que ele não precisaria terminar a prova. Redmond respondeu: “Sim, eu preciso.” O seu pai respondeu que já que Derrick iria terminar a prova, eles iriam terminar juntos. Os 65.000 expectadores ficaram de pé torcendo por ele e seu pai com um rugido ensurdecedor, enquanto eles caminhavam e ele mancava até eles cruzarem a linha de chegada.

A história de Derek incorpora o espírito do credo olímpico e mostra como lutar torna-se mais importante do que o triufo. Neste contexto, as palavras de Yogi Berra são oportunas: “Perder é uma experiência de aprendizagem. Ela ensina a humildade. Ensina a dar duro. E é também uma motivação muito poderosa”. Michael Jordan também ficou famoso em falar sobre como os seus fracassos levaram ao seu sucesso: “Eu perdi mais de 9000 lances em minha carreira. Eu perdi quase 300 jogos. Por 26 vezes contaram comigo para o lance final e eu perdi. Eu falhei várias vezes na minha vida. E é por isso que eu consegui.” É através da adversidade, fracasso e dos desafios que nós crescemos mais e percebemos o sentido do espírito humano. Apesar de Derek Redmond não ter ganhado a medalha de ouro nos 400 metros, o seu desempenho em Barcelona foi considerado um dos melhores momentos na história das Olimpíadas.

A lição aqui é que há triunfo tanto na derrota quanto na vitória, particularmente quando o triunfo está no esforço e o esforço é tudo. Redmond também nos lembra que ninguém atravessa uma jornada sozinho. Quer seja um membro da família, um treinador, mentor, amigo ou professor, nós sempre tivemos alguém nos apoiando em nosso crescimento, desenvolvimento e realizações. É através dessas lentes que podemos ver o início de mais um ano escolar e nosso trabalho como uma comunidade de aprendizes.

Todos nós da EAB, em nossos papéis, que vão desde professor, aluno e membro da família, passamos por uma jornada de crescimento e desenvolvimento. A missão da EAB – Aprendizes inspirando aprendizes a serem questionadores na vida, firmes em seu caráter e com uma visão audaciosa – destaca essa crença. Como Derek Redmond, ninguém está sozinho nessa jornada. É o nosso foco em relacionamentos, o cuidado profundo com o bem-estar do outro e uma comunidade com um ideal, que contribuem para tornar a EAB uma escola e ambiente de aprendizagem especial para os nossos alunos.

A abertura do 27º Jogos Olímpicos será comemorada oficialmente, hoje, no Rio de Janeiro e vai representar algo emocionante durante as próximas semanas. O desempenho dos atletas, sem dúvida, nos inspira em como refletir sobre a relevância da crença olímpica em relação ao nosso próprio contexto: “A coisa mais importante não é vencer, mas participar, assim como a coisa mais importante na vida não é o triunfo, mas a luta. O essencial não é ter vencido, mas lutado bem”.

Barry Dequanne

Blog: www.barrydequanne.com


Featured image: cc licensed (CC BY-NC 2.0) flickr photo by Geraint Rowland: Cristo Redentor https://www.flickr.com/photos/geezaweezer/23322487852/

 

 

Inquisitive in Life

“There is no end to education. It is not that you read a book, pass an examination, and finish with education. The whole of life, from the moment you are born to the moment you die, is a process of learning.” ~Jiddu Krishnamurti

The old adage “the more I learn, the less I know” articulates how many of us feel as we continue to learn about the world within and around us. It is tantamount to accepting the premise of another adage: “I often don’t even know what I don’t know.” In an essay entitled, The Big Test, David Brooks coins a term that highlights these adages and may capture the the spirit associated with an “inquisitive in life” approach to our learning: epistemological modesty. Brooks uses the term in reference to the writings associated with important historical philosophers and their own sense of epistemological modesty:

“They knew how little we can know. They understood that we are strangers to ourselves and society is an immeasurably complex organism.”

This concept can naturally be extended beyond ourselves and our society to the world and universe beyond us. It therefore seems appropriate for an individual to approach this branch of philosophy called epistemology – the theory of knowing that investigates the origins, nature, and limits of human knowledge – with at least some degree of modesty.

Question BoxWhile the “immeasurable complexity” associated with everything to learn can feel overwhelming, this is not the point. When considering our own learning and the role of schools, what is important is the degree to which a lifelong love of learning is instilled in students and modeled in our communities. Through an “inquisitive in life” approach to learning, it is hoped that our students will learn enough about the world around them to be in a position to identify their individual passions, which will further focus their lifelong learning.

There is indeed no end to education and the process of learning and it is this process that can enrich our lives in immeasurable ways.


Featured image: cc licensed (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) flickr photo by Raymond Brysonhttps://www.flickr.com/photos/f-oxymoron/9647972522


Profile: I am currently working as the Head of School at the American School of Brasilia and publish a blog at www.barrydequanne.com (Twitter: @dequanne)

More Than Words

Learners inspiring learners to be inquisitive in life, principled in character, and bold in vision.

A little over a year ago, our community embarked on a journey of reflection and self-examination as we conducted a review of our school’s mission statement and associated core documents. As with most meaningful endeavors, it was recognized at the start that the learning from this process was arguably as important, if not more important, than the final product. To that end, the yearlong review included the involvement of parents, students, and teachers through surveys, focus group discussions, retreats, review committees, and a school improvement team. At the end of this process, the American School of Brasilia’s (EAB) Board of Directors, who were also active participants, were presented with a proposed new mission statement, which was approved. As we look to the current year and years ahead, there is excitement surrounding the opportunity and challenge to make the new mission statement come alive.


Process

To avoid lengthy discussions and potential misunderstands regarding terminology, our School Improvement Team (SIT) agreed to not let the strict definitions and debates associated with the words mission and vision take way from the review process. SIT agreed on a basic definition of mission as “who we are” and vision, with an emphasis on the future, as “where we are going” and, more subtly, “how we will get there”. While not perfect, this was enough to move us forward.

As part of the reflection process, we literally reviewed hundreds of mission statements from schools around the world, fortune 500 companies, and internationally recognized not-for-profit organizations, with the goal of establishing criteria associated with an ideal mission statement structure. This process was helpful and led us to the following criteria:

  1. Accurately reflect our community and school
  2. Be short and concise, such that it could be easily memorized
  3. Avoid lofty language that sounds impressive but has little practicality
  4. Avoid a statement that encompasses everything but says very little
  5. Provide a framework to clarify who we are and what we value
  6. A blend of realism and optimism
  7. Strive for language that is accessible to all student ages in addition to community members whose first language is not English.

It was also agreed that the descriptor statement about the school would be removed from the mission and listed as a separate statement called “Our School”.

Our School: We are a diverse community that provides an English-language based pre-K through Grade 12 education. We are an International Baccalaureate World School with U.S. and Brazilian accreditation.

The remainder of the process focused on identifying and articulating the key components associated with our school’s identity. As those who have participated in similar processes, this is not an easy task but is at the very heart of establishing a new mission statement.

Looking back on the process, a key moment in the discussions occurred during the review of mission statements from other organizations, when someone highlighted the Ritz-Carlton motto:

We are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.

This statement is not only elegant in its simplicity and content and easy to remember, but also acts as an effective and inspiring guide for everyone who works at the Ritz-Carlton.


New Mission Statement

There is no doubt that the Ritz-Carlton motto influenced the key aspect of EAB’s new mission statement, which articulates that we are a community of learners, adults and students alike, working together on an educational journey. It is EAB’s conviction that student learning is only maximized when all members of our community are also engaged in the learning process. It is this focus which led to the first words in EAB’s new mission and also serves as the new motto:

Learners inspiring learners

Education has fundamentally changed and continues to change, specifically in terms of who controls the flow of information. It is, therefore, of fundamental importance that schools be designed in an adaptable manner, such that they are positioned to take advantage of the current and future changes associated with learning. It was hoped that the concept of “learners inspiring learners” would capture these concepts in terms of how everyone in our community is always learning, adapting, and growing. Given that the control of information has shifted from teachers to students, we must then expect that parents, teachers, and school communities must also be continuous learners or we risk becoming irrelevant in the learning process.

With the first three words of the new mission statement established, the remaining parts of the mission emerged quickly, with the following result:

PREVIOUS Mission Statement:

The American School of Brasilia serves the International and Brazilian communities by providing a U.S. and Brazilian accredited pre-K through 12th grade program and International Baccalaureate Diploma in a culturally diverse atmosphere. Our English- language school develops and supports the whole child in achieving his or her own potential. Through a differentiated, innovative learning experience, we cultivate responsible and contributing citizens, leaders, and environmental stewards with a strong foundation of academic excellence.

NEW Mission Statement:

Learners inspiring learners to be inquisitive in life, principled in character, and bold in vision.

As stated, “Learners Inspiring Learners” highlights that we are all life long learners, learning together. “Inquisitive in Life” is about a focus on academic learning. However, learning should always take pace within the framework of character, ethics, and acceptable values. It is this belief in a whole child approach to learning that resulted in an emphasis on character: “Principled in Character” is about being a good person and making good decisions. Yet, it can then be argued that we have a moral imperative to use our learning and character to make a positive difference: “Bold in Vision” is focused on channeling our creative and innovative energies towards making a positive difference in the world.

In summary, after a yearlong review process, it is believed that the new mission meets the criteria set at the start of the process. The statement accurately reflects our community’s beliefs, is sufficiently short and concise such that it can be memorized, and avoids lofty language and jargon. It is also believed that the statement further articulates our values within the context of a blend of realism and optimism for the future.

We are excited to officially introduce EAB’s new mission statement. The next step is to ensure that the mission guides everything we do in addition to finding ways to make the mission come alive at our school.


Featured image: cc licensed (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) flickr photo by Muha… https://www.flickr.com/photos/alpstedt/13339786034


Profile: I am currently working as the Head of School at the American School of Brasilia and publish a blog at www.barrydequanne.com (Twitter: @dequanne)

What Counts?

This year, I have been lucky enough to work with a talented group of educators who have helped me process, plan, deliberate, challenge, and fail. That last one is of course what I’m holding right now as I push myself up off the floor.

Failing is what we say we want to be open to, and yet when you are in it, you can’t help but think “I don’t want to do this again. Thanks, but no.” It is how you hold, describe and live inside “the fail” that allows you to learn from it. So here goes…

Learning how to be a leader has allowed me to continually modify what I think leadership should look like. There are times when the image I see in my mind is that of a ship’s captain, at the bow, telescope out, checking the horizon for storms, pirates, or land.

While that leader is brave and secure, in control and courageous, he or she is also the only one with the looking glass, the only one with vision and sight.

That type of leadership is not only lonely, it is probably highly ineffective. Why? Because as the sole person responsible for deciding the path, that leader then must tell people what to do and how to do it rather than utilize the collaborative energy and strength of the team “mates” around her. There is no ownership for the others on board, and there is no shared sense of purpose with or for the leader.

Luckily, I’ve had a recent and very different experience. I’ve had the opportunity to work with a team of people who are smart yet open, passionate yet cautious and always ready to lean-in to work collaboratively on a task.

As a group, we have wrestled with big questions around who we are as a school and how we can best serve the children in our care. Our backgrounds are different; two of us are directly from the US, while the others have taught internationally for years. We have different views on what should be, but a collective idea that schools are here to serve the needs of the children within them.

So how did we fail exactly?

The team failed in execution, not in the process. The work we embarked on required a system for discussion, analysis, and thoughtful planning. On that journey, minds were made up; then minds were changed. The individuals in the group were willing to stretch because the group itself was working toward a common collaborative purpose: “How can we serve the children in our care?” Together we made some difficult recommendations. Recommendations we felt best for those children.

However, those recommendations were not heeded and a very different path was taken. Which left the team questioning our purpose, our goals, and even, our own beliefs. (Collaboratively and individually.)

The toughest part of my leadership journey has been these severe right turns. When what we had been working on is suddenly and inexplicitly changed. Often, without developing the understanding of those that have been working through or living the experience every day.

However, knowing that this failure is a result of the outcome and not in the collaborative process itself is what encourages me to continue. To move forward, this team needs to go back to and reaffirm the good, human work they presented. The stage is set up for this team to try again.

As I leave this school and job for a new one next year, it is the experience with this particular team that I will take with me and grow from. I’ve learned that while you can go all-in, the outcome still might flop. However, it isn’t the failure that counts. What counts, is showing up and trying to do what’s right, while working to really understand the people next to you.

Everyday. Again and again.