REFLECTION: 7 Questions, April 29, 2016

7 Questions to End Your Week - HW

OBSERVE: What pleasant surprises did I discover this week?

This week, like most weeks, a number of different events and experiences occurred. About ten college and university representatives came to MVPS to participate in a design thinking challenge with us related to showcasing unique stories of achievement and accomplishment. In mid week, two of our Innovation Diploma cohort members shared their Senior MoVe Talks as they ready to graduate soon. And the school published a longer-form article about four iDiploma members who participated in an event hosted by re:imagineATL to creatively hack some significant Atlanta challenges. So, my pleasant surprise was the degree to which iDiploma cohort members expressed deep learning as the result of their evolution of understanding in the program. Certainly, I believe in the power of the program and our methods. But when teens express sophisticated understanding of how the work is “altering our DNA” I get surprisingly giddy.

REFLECT: What lessons did my work teach me that I could build upon next week?

My work continues to teach me that a thousand small conversations and actions are necessary to build shared understanding and collaborative togetherness toward solving for complex challenges and vision achievements. The murmurations of an advanced flock of educators require significant trust and dedication to fly as a unit.

FOCUS: Are my short-term efforts and long-term goals sill aligned?

I try to provide servant leadership primarily in two roles at School – the Chief Learning and Innovation Officer and the Executive Director of MVIFI. Recently, I have been working with a small group of individuals to reposition and realign various aspects of each job so that I can continue to strive for my highest point of contribution. We have dialed up certain parts of one role and dialed down other aspects of another. I believe the systems situations involved create an intricate web of desired and unintended consequences. Yet, I think the efforts committed this week help forward the long-term goals of deep educational transformation and mission realization.

BE PRODUCTIVE: What could I have spent more or less time doing?

For the first time in weeks, I actually accomplished all of the items on my OmniFocus lists without having to defer any to a later date. That felt good from a task orientation. At the same time, I wish that a particular fuse16 project had been completed a couple of months ago, so I could have been more diligent about leading that item to a state of done that is necessary for my team. Always, I wish I had spent more time in various classrooms observing the work of our School.

HAVE COURAGE: How did fear and uncertainly affect what I did and didn’t do?

I fear a bit that my work might threaten some positive sense of autonomy in the various divisions as we work toward a right “dynamic balance tension” of whole-school alignment and transition of program threads among divisions. At the same time, I believe such alignment is deeply essential to effective school advancement. I also feared a bit this week how some faculty might respond to the carefully crafted announcement about our Summer+ Learning focus. We work with incredible professionals who are passionate about learning, and I deeply desire for our collaborative learning focus as a School to be meaningful to and fully “owned” by our faculty.

CLENSE: What mental clutter can I clear?

I can clear the mental clutter associated with thinking that an event’s numbers are very closely related to the quality and impact that an event can have. We can do amazing things with a relatively “small” group of committed and passionate people.

BEGIN ANEW: What is the first logical step for next week?

Create the pro forma for a multi-year project so that a team can have a clearer sense of several related issues for better decision making on connected fronts.

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NOTE: I am venturing into an experiment. I plan to use these 7 Questions to End Your Week as a discipline of regular reflection. I feel very strongly about reflective practice. As John Dewey has taught me, learning is not simply experience, but reflecting on experience. Additionally, I think we neglect a fundamentally important opportunity when we choose to assign “homework” as a school but fail to prompt reflections like these seven questions as a building habit in young (and old) learners. What if a menu of prompts like these, and others, became more integrated into the home learning that we expect from our students and colleagues at our schools? So, to explore this wondering, I am assigning the questions and prompts first and foremost to myself. And I have invited other members of my tribe to enter into this experiment with me. I cannot wait to see all that I/we learn.

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