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Main Entry: vision

3 Sep

Main Entry: vision

Part of Speech: noun

Definition: apparition

Synonyms: apocalypse, chimera, delusion, ecstasy, fantasy, ghost, hallucination, haunt, illusion, mirage, nightmare, oracle, phantasm, phantom, phenomenon, presence, prophecy, revelation, specter, spirit, spook, trance, warlock, wraith

Antonyms: actuality, fact, reality

We are in the process of considering the “WHY’ as Simon Sinek puts it, and by defining this it will clarify a vision for our learners and consider how we can go about this.  The process includes consideration of our current reality and the barriers or levers that create the tension between what is and what can be.  George Couros as part of Parkland School Division in the US has recently undergone a similar process (which follows)…



This truly tries to capture not only the work that we want to do in the future, but a lot of the work that we are doing in the future with our kids.  I love how it focuses on the idea of “learners” as opposed to simply students.  We always focus on doing what is best for kids, but if that is to truly happen, we all need to have the growth mindset and continue to grow.  Here is the Vision and Mission of our school division:

Our Vision

Parkland School Division is a place where exploration, creativity, and imagination make learning exciting and where all learners aspire to reach their dreams.

Our Mission

Our purpose is to prepare, engage and inspire our students to be their best in a quickly changing global community.

Right now, these are just words, but our focus on the division is to put words into action and make some incredible things happen.  We will also continue to focus on being an open and transparent learning organization so that others can grow along with us.  Really exciting times in our school division.

Here are some links that I have read that may be of value to you and your school.

1.  What is education for? – Interestingly enough, this is an article that is 20 years old yet I was led to it on Facebook through a mistaken attribution to a quote.  It is a must read for educators as it is focused on where education should be heading and the importance of caring for others and our world.  Here is a powerful quote from the article:

A second principle comes from the Greek concept of paideia. The goal of education is not mastery of subject matter, but of one’s person.  Subject matter is simply the tool. Much as one would use a hammer and chisel to carve a block of marble, one uses ideas and knowledge to forge one’s own personhood. For the most part we labor under a confusion of ends and means, thinking that the goal of education is to stuff all kinds of facts, techniques, methods, and information into the student’s mind, regardless of how and with what effect it will be used. The Greeks knew better.

There are a lot of powerful messages here regarding education and I really believe it is a must read for those who care about our schools and the direction they are going.

2.  How can I sell my skills beyond a boring resume? –  We have been working on digital portfolios within Parkland School Division for the past year, and continue on this road this year (and years into the future).  Your digital footprint is extremely important and many potential employers (including myself) use Google as a way of learning more about potential candidates. Our focus within the school division is that we need to go from the point where you digital footprint could lose a job to a place where what you do online can actually create opportunities.  About.me is a great place for many educators to start to develop that online persona that they can share the places they are on the Internet as well as start taking control of their digital identity:

If you have a web presence you want to show off at all, About.Me is a good option. The service is free, looks great, and links users directly to your other social profiles or web sites where they can learn more about you. About.me pages take moments to set up, and when you’re finished you get a short custom URL you can give out or put on a business card. You can even sign up for an about.me email address for those contacts to use when they want to reach you.

Definitely take the time to Google yourself (very helpful link) and see what is out there about you.  Would you hire you?

3.  50 Ways to Use Twitter in the Classroom – We have many educators within Parkland School Division excited about the opportunity of using Twitter for professional development but many use it as a hybrid to not only learn openly, but also connect their classroom to the world.  There are some great ideas on this post and below are a few:

7. Connect with the community.

Partner up with local government or charitable organizations and use Twitter to reach a broad audience discussing the latest cultural or educational events in the area and encourage others in the community to attend.

8. Follow the issues.

Bring a little technology into debates by asking the class which issues they would like to follow. Subscribe to relevant hash tags and accounts from all perspectives and compile an updated resource cobbling together as much research as possible.

9. Write a story or poem.

Many writers and poets have experimented with Twitter’s 140-character format to bring new, serialized works in small chunks to attention-divided audiences. Some educators may like the idea of asking their students to apply their creative writing skills to a restrictive social media outlet.

What ways do you use Twitter in your school that aren’t listed in the article?

I hope you have a great week! I am extremely excited about our school year and the work that we are trying to achieve in our division. Share, share, share!

What skills do we value?

26 Aug

After having the privilege to listen to Yong Zhao discussing his new book ‘World Class Learners – Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students’ I was reminded of Sinead Duffy’s post regarding the characteristics of an entrepreneurial mindset, thus I am sharing this with you.

If these are the skills of successful entrepreneurs & Zhao says “To succeed in this ever-changing world, students need to think like entrepreneurs: resourcefully, flexibly, creatively and globally” – how many of our schools value these skills?  More importantly, do we foster these or try to extinguish them in our classrooms?  My fear is that there are too few schools and teachers that agree with Yong Zhao, and by the time they confront the reality that he is right, so many students may have missed the boat.

12 Characteristics of a Highly Successful Entrepreneurial Mindset

By Sinead Duffy 4th July 2012

Success does not happen overnight. It takes hard work, perseverance and continual self-improvement. Every highly successful entrepreneur has a great story to tell. Often times, you’ll  be amazed by what most of them have gone through before becoming famous entrepreneurs.  They may be ordinary people but they do not have ordinary minds.

Here are the characteristics of highly successful entrepreneurs.

1. Passion

They absolutely love what they do; it energizes them and makes them come alive.

It doesn’t feel like work, because they feel they are doing what they were born to do.

2. Belief

Their self-belief and belief in their ideas enables them to succeed. They have faith in their ability to succeed and proceed when others doubt their ideas. They believe they can make it work and never allow their circumstances to place a limit on their potentials.

3. Courage

They have the courage to take on new challenges, to follow their instincts and to go boldly where no one has gone before.

4. Determination

Highly successful entrepreneurs have great determination. They are determined to make their ideas work, no matter how difficult. They are determined to nurture their ideas and watch them flourish.

5. Instinct

They are good at making decisions, tuning into their gut feeling and weighing up consequences in a heartbeat. The more decisions they make, the better they become at decision making.

6. Risk Taking

They are prepared to take risks and step outside their comfort zone to get what they want. Interestingly, a lot of their decisions are calculated risks.

7. Vision

They begin with a dream of what they really want to achieve and they set clear goals and objectives. From that, they strategize, plan and act on what they want to achieve. They inspire others to focus on achieving results.

8. Discipline

They are brilliant at getting things done and this takes commitment, hard work and dedication. They get up early, work late and never give up until they get what they want.

9. Resiliancy

They have failed in the past and they know that they will fail again in the future. They are not afraid of it. They have learned great lessons from their failures. They turn the situation around to make it work for them. In fact, other innovations can even emerge from failures.

10. Adapt

They are early adopters and quick to respond to changes that affect their business. They are not afraid of change, not afraid to adapt to unforeseen circumstances. They understand that change is a certainty and face whatever life throws at them with courage and hope.

11. Inspire

They motivate and inspire others to achieve results. They recognize and nurture talents and qualities in others.

12. Learn

They are always willing to learn and invest in their own personal development. They attend seminars, network and rub minds with like minds. They seek out others who share their passions and build relationships with people who support and encourage. They have great mentors and coaches and work on ways to continually improve. They grow daily, and never fail to make use of every opportunity.

Perhaps you can identify many of the characteristics of highly successful entrepreneurs in yourself.  Are there some you feel are stronger than others? Are there any of the characteristics of highly successful entrepreneurs that you would like to further develop?

Where I at

20 Aug

Well this is where I am at!

It’d be nice to really be able to define my place in the grand scheme of things at a point in time – like today.  More often than not I feel fluid – in some vague space between MANAGING what I do and wanting to LEAD towards why we do what we do.

After being inspired by Simon Sinek’s TED talk “How Great Leaders Inspire Action”, and seeking out direction by scanning thru the myriad of advice on the web, I am inspired by Mary Jo Asmus’ similie for leadership – while driving (or teaching others to drive) the vehicle of change in our school.



Winning Hearts and Minds




Where are we at in relation to Leadership, Change and Student Outcomes?

Tension? Levers? Barriers?



What do I really want?


Why? Why? Why?


Leadership – All of us.  The Why.

Management – My responsibility related to governance. The What.


Driving from the passenger side

By Mary Jo Asmus on August 15th, 2012 |

One of the most harrowing times in the life of a parent is that period when their children learn to drive a car. If you’ve had teenage children who have learned this skill, you might know what it feels like to relinquish control. When they are practicing driving, you sit next to them as they take the steering wheel and brakes; they are in control and you are there to offer (hopefully calm) guidance and advice.

Being a leader has a lot in common with the parent helping their teen to learn driving skills. Leadership is a hands-off activity that allows your team to take control of the daily work while you guide and coach from the passenger seat. It can sometimes be hard to respectfully refrain from trying to grab the steering wheel or putting the brakes on.

For many leaders who are accustomed to being in control in their lives and at work, the leadership ride can be harrowing, too. Letting go and allowing your team to take the steering wheel is not always comfortable. There will be mistakes made, but if you learn to pay attention without meddling while providing a light touch in guiding them, it can also be one of the most rewarding experiences you’ll have.

As a leader, you’ll be most successful when you don’t try to drive for others. Learning to sit in the passenger seat isn’t easy, but it can be a great ride when you:

Trust them. How do you know if your staff is capable if you don’t trust them to do the things they were hired to do? Trust that they are, and your advantage is that they will trust you back. If the level of work you give them has a mix of things that meet or exceed what they are capable of, chances are that you’ll be glad you allowed them to drive.

Lead with clarity. Be clear about your expectations and outcomes. Go ahead and tell them why you are requesting that they do the work you’re delegating. Make sure these initial conversations are two-way so that you can be assured that they understand what you are asking them to do. They will be most successful when you clearly dialog with them about the work they need to do.

Are available. Especially when your team members are learning new things, make sure that they know when you are available to talk through their dilemmas. Perhaps you might want to set up meetings with them more frequently than you have, or make sure you put time into your schedule to check in with them to ask if they have questions or need assistance without falling into the trap of solving all the problems for them.

Coach them along the way. You still need to be informed of the work your staff is doing, but you should do your best to refrain from telling them how to do it. And unless they ask for instruction or they are getting into trouble, lay off on the advice-giving and problem-solving. Instead, gently guide them with questions that help them to figure out the best way to proceed: “What’s your next step?” “How will you begin?” and “What do you need from me?” are great questions to ask.

Encourage, thank, celebrate. These are the seemingly small things (to you) that are big things to your staff and the success of your organization. When they are on the right track, encourage them to go further. Thank them for what they do well. Celebrate success so that everyone can see great examples of work well done.

Leading from the passenger side isn’t easy, but when done well, it can be a rewarding experience for a leader to watch employees develop, learn their own ways of getting things done, and become an example for others.


Determining our vision……….

What do we want to achieve?

After we test and reshape your big-picture vision, you should develop the details. You need to give people some specifics as to what your big picture will mean on a day-to-day level. You also have to tell people what steps you will take to get there, i.e., develop a plan.  People may think your big picture is a meaningless mirage if you don’t give them some ideas as to how you think things will actually change.

You don’t have to have all the answers, but you need to have some ideas. What has to happen to get there? Write up some tentative ideas for how to get things done. The better your plan for reaching your vision, the more likely people will take you seriously and be willing to follow your lead.

Once you have some confidence that your vision is sound, begin to put it out as a way to gather support for your leadership and what you and your organization want to accomplish. Use your vision as a way to inspire people to act.

Help people take ownership of a vision

As a leader, you have to help people take your vision and make it their own. This is an important step in bringing people together to work toward a common goal. Members of a group need to have a shared vision and a sense of ownership in order to be committed to the group. That is key in helping people stay with a group for the long haul.

People don’t need to agree with all the details of your vision in order to follow your lead. They will have different ideas about how to put a vision to use. That is fine and healthy. But in order to work together, people need to share an overall vision and some basic goals.

To help people take your vision and make it their own, you need to talk and listen. You shouldn’t talk too much. You should mostly listen to people’s thinking. If you really sit back and listen to people, they will tell you what is most important to them.

It may take people a long time to get to the point of telling you what is really important to them. They may have to tell you first about their children or a crummy experience they had with a politician. However, if you can listen long enough, people will tell you their thinking about how things should change.

A balancing act: Meet people where they are and challenge them at the same time

At times people may not be ready to hear your vision of how things can be. Some people may disagree. Some may have so much of their attention taken by surviving day-to-day that it is difficult for them to listen to how things can be better. Also, people sometimes feel mistrustful, hopeless, discouraged, and cynical. Some people depend on a narrow picture of the world in order to feel secure.

Communicating a vision to people through that obstacle course can be tough. You often have to meet people where they are in order to establish some trust. As we talked about earlier, listening is an important tool in doing that.

But you also have to communicate the parts of your vision that people can relate to. They may not be ready to think about an overall plan for transforming the school. However, they may be able to think about doing something about the reading in the classroom. If so, talk about reading. Talk to people “where they’re at.” Speak to their conditions and their personal needs. This will help you build some trusting relationships. Later you can do more.

On the other hand, it is sometimes important to say things that people are not quite ready to hear. People need to think about new ideas over a period of time before they can make sense of them. New ideas are important to introduce, even if they engender initial resistance. Often the strongest and most important ideas meet with resistance.

A leader has to lead. And the most important aspect of leadership is winning over the thinking of people to a vision of what things can be like.

This can take time. You may need to be gentle, but also persistent.

Be courageous

In order to create and communicate a vision, you must be courageous. People who communicate a vision of what things should be like are often the people who are courageous enough to state what is obviously wrong and unjust. It can be difficult to say out loud that the prince has no clothes. However, once you say it, people will see that it is true.

If, for example, you see some clear problems in your school, be courageous and start talking about them to others. Ask people how they think things should be. You may find that you have more in common with people than you had thought.

You should also be prepared for people to attack you for what you are trying to do. Ideas that lead to fundamental changes are frightening to people. People may actively campaign against you. Often, these campaigns can get quite personal. People may try to make your personal problems or shortcomings the issue, rather than the issue you are trying to put forward.

If this happens, gather your close friends and allies around you. Together, come up with a plan to handle the attack and direct the discussion back to the real issues. Don’t try to handle an attack by yourself. When an attack is being directed at you, you will need the perspective of friends. It will help if you can anticipate and plan for such attacks before they happen, but sometimes that is not possible.


Becoming an innovative school – Anne Knock

14 Aug

I have simply cut and paste Anne’s explanation of her 10 ideas on what makes NBCS innovative.  While this isn’t new to me – and I’m guessing you, I think that it is a precise summary of the things that we know are important.

I think we all aspire to hear “I thought I was coming to see buildings, now I know it’s so much more” when visitors come into our school!

My top 10 ideas

5 08 2012

Northern Beaches Christian School: one of the most innovative in the world. Thanks to everyone for great day of discussion …from @wethink

When one of the world’s leading authorities on innovation described Northern Beaches Christian School as “one of the most innovative in the world” we were amazed and honoured. Charlie Leadbeater (@wethink), is a former adviser to the British government and author of We-think: The Power Of Mass Creativity. Leadbeater ran a one day seminar with us in June 2011. His TED Talk Education innovation in the Slums has more than 300,000 views and he was described as:

early to notice the rise of “amateur innovation” – great ideas from outside the traditional walls, from people who suddenly have the tools to collaborate, innovate and make their expertise known.

We are often asked about the distinctives that have led to Charles Leadbeater, and other leading educators and thinkers, to make such comments when they spend some time at Northern Beaches Christian School. While not the definitive list, here are some of the key conditions that can make a difference:

1. A vision for learning is incessantly and clearly communicated

  • What is your vision? Make sure you know where you are going.
  • Find ingenious and relentless ways to communicate it. This takes courage.

2. Learning is future-focused

  • The world is changing, make sure the learning context recognises this
  • Observe the students, how they work and communicate (Tip: they aren’t using email anymore)

3. Culture takes time and persistence to embed

  • Once you have the vision – prioritise your steps. The reality is, change will take time
  • If you believe it, be resolute. Help those who are struggling to change, but stick to your guns.

4. Engaged and motivated students are the goal

  • Think about your own conditions for productivity and creativity, maybe it’s same for students
  • Put current practices through the ‘learning’ filter – do they still belong?

5. Equipped and supported staff are essential

  • Vision + ‘Learning’ Filter = Regular PD to support through change
  • Teacher PD needs to look like student learning, otherwise it’s “do as I say, not as I do”

6. Technology is an environment for learning, not the driver

  • This is not about who has the most bright shiny toys
  • Students live in a world of technology – the school-world needs be relevant

7. Relationships matter

  • In the midst of all the learning, technology and activity nothing matters more than quality relationships
  • Students need to belong, be known, valued and accepted. This is only achieved through relationship

8. Learning is authentic

  • Set in a real-world context, skills will be learnt readily when there is purpose
  • Provide opportunities for students to be world-changers

9. Spaces for learning are welcoming and comfortable

  • This is not about bright shiny spaces and colourful furniture, it is about aesthetically pleasing environments where students (and teachers) will want to come to learn
  • Think about where you like to work and learn, maybe it’s the same for students

10. Creativity and innovation have expression

  • There will always be barriers to innovation, find ways to break or go around them.
  • Make this your culture, give it voice, take risks, embrace failure

When people visit Northern Beaches Christian School often hear them say:

“I thought I was coming to see buildings, now I know it’s so much more”

10 Things Parents Should Unlearn – from George

7 Aug

10 Things Parents Should UnlearnEdna Sackson has always been one of my favourite bloggers, and in this post, she discusses the importance of parents learning about how school has changed:

But many parents base their opinions on the only model of education with which they are familiar… their own schooling. Even if they are young parents, I’d like to hope schooling has changed since they went to school.

Edna goes on to list some things that parents should “unlearn” from what they may have been taught either at school or in their adult life (below are her first five):

1.  Learning is best measured by a letter or a number.

2. Product is more important than process and progress.

3. Children need to be protected from any kind of failure.

4. The internet  is dangerous for children.

5. Parents and teachers should discuss students without the learner present.

This is definitely an article that will promote some great discussion with your school and parent community.

Natural Leaders – EI – George again!

7 Aug

6 signs of a natural leader Are leaders made or do they have skills that make it easier to naturally fit into this position?  This site presents the question…. are leadership qualities innate in some people and help them to achieve success in their pursuits? Leadership is something that can, and should be developed, but are there certain people that are more likely to become leaders than others?

A busy manager who has to deal with all kinds of personalities within a team can overlook signs of leadership and instead see someone being difficult — perhaps asking too many questions, questioning their direction or stepping on their toes when it comes to guiding other members of the team.

While these behaviors can be initially challenging, they are all signs that the individual has the potential to be a great leader. It’s up to the manager to notice these signs, identify the leader and guide them in the right direction. Recognizing the personality traits is the first step so here are six signs of a natural leader.

Do effective leaders have to have similar qualities to be effective or can they range in types and personalities?  How much does that matter?