Conversations that matter

I’ll be writing more for weeks I’m sure about the conversations and sessions at Educon this weekend, but in looking over my notes this morning, the thing that strikes me the most is the power of conversation in learning.

One of the most powerful part of Kevin Jarrett’s and Sylvia Martinez’s session, “Influence Without Authority” about the Future Search process, was that Sandra Janoff, who initiated this process, was there in the room, and in the conversation with all of us.   Future Search is a method of bringing key players together in a specific process to discuss change.

Kevin and Sylvia were exploring through their conversation whether technology could enhance the process–if wikis or blogs or other methods could support the Future Search.   And the astounding thing that took place as we all talked was that Sandra Janoff shared that she didn’t know about all these technologies, that she was learning from our conversation and that she was very excited about the possibility for finding out how they could be used as a support for the Future Search.  We were all learning together.

Similarly in Arthus Erea’s session on Student Voice, one teacher in the room was struggling with how to balance teaching to the standards and embracing time for exploration.  She was an experienced teacher who was struggling with this but as the conversation evolved, and students added their voices, and others of us talked about it, you could see that her view was shifting and she was becoming an excited part of the conversation.  Having student voice involved in the discussion was a significant part of that.

We’ve been talking alot about change and how it can happen and what facilitates it in many different sessions at Educon.  So what strikes me is this–how could we take “conversations” into our own districts and campuses?  How could we take a constructivist approach to learning into our staff development, our campus meetings and committees so that we can better learn from our colleagues and students, and have conversations that matter?   How can we make sure that all the key players are present?

Sandra Janoff identified an acronym–“arein”–to explain who should be present–people with the authority to make the changes,  the resources, the expertise, the information, and the need.  That seems like a very helpful construct in planning conversations.   And Arthus’s session made it clear that those conversations we are having in our schools should include student voices, our real constituents.

Much to think about, and I’m off to day 2 for more conversations.  (I’ll be presenting a session at 2:30 on developing some globally contributed best practices relating to intellectual freedom/internet filtering.)

2 thoughts on “Conversations that matter

  1. I am happy to read about your experience at Educon. I know you will be posting more. I spent this weekend catching up on my homework for my graduate class that meets on Monday nights. I am three weeks in but just bought my textbook.

    I am not so much of a textbook reader but this one is really interesting. Its called SuperVision and Instructional Leadership and my prof. Dr. Gordon is an author.

    I mention this book because it seems like a Future Search discussion on how SuperVision isn’t a role or a position but a process and function for teachers, administrators, and the entire school organization.

    I am only into this about 3 chapters (the fourth is due tomorrow night) but the ideas for change involve building a culture based on the COLLECTIVE beliefs about school, students, and teaching. Involving more than just the “supervisor” we all think of as our administrators but our peers and our students.

    The best evaluations I received were not from PDAS when I was teaching but from the students themselves. I incorporated into each test and each semester a time for my students to evaluate how I presented lessons, projects, and rubrics. We all worked together to make what we all learned and created in the lessons work out the best we could make them. (And yes, that meant that I would also assign myself the project to complete as well.)

    That being said, what would it be like to assign the role of supervisor to a peer? to a parent? to a student? How would you be measured and evaluated?

    I sure hope not with PDAS or the one-time walk through evaluation. What if you predermined that you wanted to accomplish a set of goals and then invited people from different perspectives to give you insight into how you accomplished those goals during the course of a week? month? semester? year?

    Geez. After all this typing, maybe I should go back to blogging!

  2. Just keep conversing….it takes a long time and then some more time. Just when you least expect it without you even being there (you were probably at Educon09) amazing things will happen!

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