EdCamp Leadership BC: notes and reflections

“Change doesn't happen when you introduce new technology, it happens when you introduce new behaviours.”

For me this quote by Clay Shirky really sums up my experiences at EdCamp Leadership BC today. I sat in on three sessions: the first was a free wheeling conversation on creating a collaborative culture facilitated by @braddo; the second was on fostering creativity and innovation; and the third was a student facilitated conversation on how students can encourage teachers to incorporate more technology in their classrooms. Interestingly in two of these three sessions we started talking about technology and finished discussing behaviours.

This was my first EdCamp experience and it was not disappointing. Besides the excellent conversations and chance to extend my thinking I finally got to meet folks like @datruss and @hhg in person, as well as reconnect with other friends and colleagues.

My session notes are below:

Creating a Collaborative Culture

Brad started by stating that education was becoming an emergent culture and then laid out some specifics about emergent cultures (all supported by his excellent slides made with the Paper app). Some of these conditions included:

  • we don't know the initial conditions and mistakenly say that outcomes validate initial conditions.
  • To manage change we need to have lots and lots of conversations. This means we need systems in place to facilitate these conversations.
  • Brad shared the Innovation Adoption Curve – innovators, early adopters, pragmatists, conservatives, sceptics. It is important to approach each group differently, but that nobody is allowed to opt out
  • The adoption curve is 4-5 years wide, which means the sceptics will be trying the new technology 4-5 years after the early adopters give it a try. The adoption curve will also look different in each situation, it is local in nature.
  • The Elephant Analogy was introduced as a way to think about how do school structures influence behaviour? In this analogy school admin is the rider trying to steer the elephant, the elephant is the emotional load of the school (parents, students, teachers) and the path is what the elephant walks down. In this analogy what we can control is the path, so “shape the path”. One example of how we are shaped by the path is our marking system which goes from top down, which assumes students are all somewhere less than perfect. If it was bottom up it would better reflect the learning process which is all about building skills up.
  • Love this quote, almost tweeted it: “Cheaters would make awesome CEOs.” They maximise their use of resources.
  • To create a culture of collaboration you need: vision; ROI (if I automate something does that free someone else up to do something else); scale: “are changes scalable”; flex; fun.
  • Brad suggests you need a boundary holder for the emergent culture; someone who manages the influences on the culture.

Here are few thoughts/ notes from the discussion that followed:

  • The discussion should really be about teacher engagement, which is tied to trust.
  • How to shift parents? Families play a larger role. Shifting students will help shift parents? If they can articulate their learning.
  • Technology and Social Media tools have a place for helping teachers and students do the mundane things more efficiently, so there is more time for the important stuff.
  • Shift needs to happen with teacher training; we are still graduating teachers trying to do same thing in old ways.
  • Change is a constant. How do you educate for change.
  • Prep time is not collaboration time; need to treat them separately and plan for each.

Creating Innovative Learning Environments

This session challenged me. Partially because it was facilitated by a non-educator. It is funny how I am programmed to be wary of advice and ideas from non-educators. I also wasn't shy about pushing back and being the voice of the curmudgeon teacher that has to implement the big idea in their classroom, not just talk about it. As it turns out pushing back was the best thing I could have done because it challenged me and I could almost feel the cognitive dissonance pushing me to a new place in my thinking. The session was really about the need for educators to tap into the expertise all around them in regards to being creative and innovative, and I have to admit interacting with a non educator about these ideas was very enriching. I am still not sure what conclusions I have reached other than recognising that it is important to think about structures and process in schools/institutions that can stimulate creativity and innovation.

A few of my notes (my comments in brackets):

  • What can we learn from Ideo?
  • Creativity and innovation comes from doing.
  • Need to create environment that allows for interaction between diverse groups. (What does this look like in the classroom?)
  • Biggest changes come from when people naturally weave themselves together.
  • Recommended resource: Tina Seelig – “what I knew when I was 20” http://www.amazon.ca/What-Wish-Knew-When-Was/dp/0061735191
  • The most innovative places look else where for inspiration.
  • Creativity is taking what you already know and connect with something someone else has already achieved and extending it out.
  • Do you treat new situation like you are a traveller – do you go into a situation asking “if I was on holiday how would I be looking at this?” On holiday become in tune, become present. (How do you help kids be present? Are you asking them to be a traveller? Blogs? Online connections?
  • Creativity and innovation happens when there is tension and dissonance, and strong relationships that can handle difficult conversations amicably.

21st Century Teaching and Learning with Technology

This session was packed. The conversation was facilitated by a Delta High School student and I have not seen many adults facilitate a conversation as skilfully. The topic of how to encourage more teachers to use technology was fast and furious and very well represented on twitter. I tried to find a few of my favourite tweets, here are a couple of them:



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