Local, National, Global: A Roundup for our Readers

Reshan and I have always described our work (in terms of blending leadership) as descriptive, provocative, and iterative.

It’s descriptive because we try to accurately write and speak about what we see, provocative because we are interested in challenging people’s habits and beliefs, and iterative because we are open to the ways in which today’s work leads to tomorrow’s opportunity or circumstance.

With that said, here’s a roundup of things that have been announced or published in the past ten days, wherein we have definitely reached some kind of lucky peak in terms of our chances to connect with readers and educators down the hall and around the globe:

We hope that some of this proves interesting to you — and that we’ll bump into you somewhere along the way.

Lunch Meeting

Last week at lunch, I sat down with a few colleagues like I always do.  One of the joys of working where I work is that you never know what kind of conversation you’re going to have at the lunch table.  On this particular day, after quickly covering some of the day’s current events, the conversation shifted into brand new territory (for a lunch).

We had all recently administered student evaluations of our teaching, and we were heading into an in-service where we would be working in departments to debrief the key learnings from these surveys.  But this particular group of people didn’t want to wait for in-service.  We spontaneously started sharing our results.  We started with the positives, but within five minutes, we were each sharing the “toughest thing we had learned” from our surveys.

  • One teacher was told, in no uncertain terms, that she should consider fixing her Moodle page.  
  • Another teacher was told that several students feel “invisible” in his class.
  • A third teacher was told that her tone was detracting from students’ enjoyment of the class.
  • A fourth teacher said, “I’m not opening my surveys until I’m sitting down with ____.  She helps me digest them.”  

As we shared these results, we all ended up coaching each other, offering suggestions and strategies.  It was very clear to me that each of these teachers is highly motivated to solve the particular problems that emerged from his/her surveys.  When you hear this kind of information from students, you simply can’t ignore it.  

Looking back on this experience, I’m still astonished by it.  At what other workplace (or even school) would people spend their free time at lunch talking shop in such a personal way?  In what other workplace (or even school) would people be willing to make themselves so vulnerable while slurping a bowl of soup with their colleagues?  This is another clear indicator that Montclair Kimberley Academy is building a very special culture around teaching and learning.  I’m proud to be a part of it.

Asynchronous Snow Day

Here in New Jersey, we have a snow day, and a colleague mentioned to me that she might try to “run an asynchronous meeting” rather than rescheduling a meeting that was scheduled for today.  I shared with her this example of an email that framed a successful asynchronous meeting for my Department Chair team:

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Bug Business

We wrote about “bug bounties” in Blending Leadership, identifying ways in which the approach and mindset that drives such work could be useful to schools.  Here’s a story from Venture Beat about a company that is working to organize such efforts (and raising plenty of money in the process): HackerOne, a vulnerability identification platform that helps connect security-conscious businesses with bug hunters, has raised $40 million in a Series C round led by Dragoneer Investment Group.” This offers clear evidence, too, that organizing platforms around the right kinds of collaborative work is a good business model.

Permission to Drift

Here’s Jim Jarmusch talking about the Paterson character from his film Paterson.  He makes a great point about the importance of routines for creativity (and one of the reasons that I park in the exact same spot every time I go to the grocery store).

[Paterson] likes routine, because routine allows him to drift. Because he doesn’t have to think about what clothes does he wear each day, what time does he go to work, what is the route of his bus. Even walking the dog . . . is part of his routine. Everything is laid out for him, and that lets him be a poet, because within that routine, he can observe, he can be an antenna, he can drift, he can listen to people, he can write his poems by the waterfall. He needs that.

The rest of the interview is beautiful, as well, especially when Jarmusch speaks (lovingly) of his many collaborators. Thanks to Austin Kleon for sharing.

Time Zones

I  just sent one final message to the Global Online Academy class I ran with Reshan Richards.  The message I received from Slack before it sent the message speaks volumes about the kind of educational experience this was for me (and for the participants).