Building a Culture of Yes: 3 Strategies to Unlock Possibilities & Innovation in Schools

Solving the problems we face today in education requires a fresh perspective and creative solutions.  Most educators are aware that change is needed and cognitively know things need to be done differently, yet collectively we get stuck in circular conversations and comfortable solutions that have already been tried without results. How might we move schools from a having a culture of no to creating a culture of yes?

Open Letter to Parents Everywhere Who Have Ever Questioned the Status Quo at School

An open letter to all of the parents who once tried to impact positive change at your child’s school ... especially those who had to do it in the days before email and easy access to communication (though if you're on social media, you might think it's worse today). You likely started with your child's classroom teacher, then to the principal, and perhaps the school counselor. If you persevered, you made the final two stops - to the superintendent and the school board, But, what if we parents (all 56 million of us) band together and poke at the core assumptions of the system, the very system intended to support our children’s growth, and yet may just be the one limiting growth? It’s time to take action and here are three concrete steps you can take today to ready yourself for the endurance event about to start.

From the Outside Looking In

For the first time in eighteen years, I have found myself in a completely different situation and am fascinated by what I am learning as an outsider about the world in which I previously lived.  As an educator, I have spent my entire career working within the public education system working and pushing for changes I believe are not only good for kids but essential to their learning experiences.  I have had the honor of being a part of major initiatives including developing blended learning environments with Sal Khan of Khan Academy, using design thinking to create a different trajectory for a school district and most recently creating a comprehensive STEM program beginning in kindergarten.  My work is and has always been fueled by a passion, an unwavering commitment to public education and a belief that change is possible for all students. And then I was hit with an unexpected personal change

Drive the Train or Design the Tracks?

This summer I was driving, listening to Ed Catmull’s book  “Creativity, Incorporated,” an outstanding account of how to create a sustainable culture of collaboration.  The entire book is phenomenal, but I heard something that really struck a chord with me. So much so that , I veered off the highway pulled onto the shoulder, & re-listened to it - multiple times. Ed was talking about mental models people use to frame their work & talked about the all too common mental model of “driving the train”  Many people believe the way to shape the future of a company (or a school) is to drive the train, when that actually couldn’t be farther from the truth.  Driving the train doesn’t set or change the direction.  The real work is in designing its course.  Then for the rest of my drive I thought about what we do as educators and the opportunities we miss because we are so focused on “driving the train.”

How Might We Be Shutting Down the Intelligence of Students?

As the educational partner for The Wiseman Group, a good portion of my time is spent guiding and coaching educational leaders to use their intelligence to make everyone around them smarter and more capable.  In this role I have the privilege of working closely with Liz Wiseman, best-selling author ofMultipliers: How The Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter and Rookie Smarts.  Liz is an exceptional leader, dynamic person and outstanding speaker. (If you ever get the chance to hear her speak GO!)   It is always a treat to hear Liz speak about Multipliers and Rookie Smarts, but recently I had the opportunity to hear Liz engage with a parent/teacher audience about applying “multiplier concepts” to bring out the best in our children.