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pete reilly

Stephanie,
As long as learning is defined as reading and listening to experts, things won't change significantly. Learning needs to be redefined to what one can DO that one couldn't do before.

Putting the emphasis on being able to do something changes everything. First, it creates the need for practice. If we read something (say about inquiry-based teaching) and we can talk about it like an expert; it does not mean we can actually do it in the classroom. That takes practice. How many educators do you know...superintendent to teacher and everyone in between, who actually practices what they want to learn?

No matter how many lists of Leadership or Teaching tips and techniques we are able to quote; unless we can actually Lead, they are just great ideas.

pete

Tracy Rosen

I think it is wrong to dismiss the value of reading and listening, Pete.

Changing practice starts with reading and listening and talking about what we are reading and listening to with our peers.

That helps to give us the courage and power to DO something.

A professional learning community of peers with whom I read, listen, and talk is a valuable support as I experiment with changing practice in my classroom.

pete reilly

I'm not dismissing talking and listening and reading; but far too often talk is all that happens. We feel better after talking; but nothing changes.

I hope someday being a professional comes to mean we practice new things rather than just talk about them.

pete

Tracy Rosen

I agree, we need to do.

I hope that we don't forget to talk and write and read about what we are doing though.

You've inspired me to think...Action without reflection, action that is not purposeful, will result in as little change as reflection without action. The balance is needed.

Tracy

Stephanie Sandifer

Tracy and Pete --

"Action without reflection" is exactly what I was addressing in this post. And it is also what Fullan was referring to when he discussed superficial vs. strong PLCs.

Superficial PLCs are characterized by people acting without reflecting.

Strong PLCs are characterized by people reflecting on their work as they are doing it. This leads to work-embedded learning.

It isn't just about reading, writing, and talking about what the "experts" say -- although, I do believe that it is necessary for professionals (in any field) to stay current with professional literature in their respective fields. I also believe that this can be embedded in daily work as well. It should be common practice for all educators to not only reflect on their own work (individually and collaboratively), but to also engage in text-based discussions with their colleagues, and to be provided time in their daily schedule to attend events where they can be exposed to new ideas and the latest research. They should then use the new knowledge gained to change practice -- preferrably in a safe environment where they are encouraged to explore new strategies and techniques.

My issue in this post is that too many educators don't reflect on their practice nor do they stay current with the professional literature and research. Far too often I experience educators who don't practice what they preach -- they hold the attitude that learning is required of the students, but not of the adults.

If the reflection and studying of current literature/research isn't happening, then what can educators use to inform a change in their practice? I agree that reflection without action is also important. The two must go hand-in-hand.

Stephanie

Tracy Rosen

Stephanie - I agree wholeheartedly with the spirit of this post and the conversation that has ensued. It seems to me that what we are actually doing is reflecting on our learning styles. A very important exercise for learners and leaders.

A few years ago I conducted an action research process on difficult conversations about students in high schools. One of the results of the research was that the most effective conversations - the ones that resulted in sustainable decision-making about difficult student issues in the classroom - were the ones in which reflection occurred during action.

Both reflection and action need to be present for any kind of long-term change to take place and I think that the more we can close the gap between the two the quicker real, sustainable change may happen.

Thanks for this opportunity to reflect :)

pete reilly

This is a great conversation, so let me push it a bit further...let's take one of Fullan's. "6 Secrets of Change"

1. Love your employees as well as your customers.

Let's say I agree with this. (I do) Now, what do I do with it?

I reflect on my employees and (for the sake of argument) find that there are a few employees that I do not like, never mind love. In fact, there are a few people that have been undermining all our efforts, acting out of integrity, and actually destroying some reputations and careers in the process.

I understand that to succeed, I must love them. How do I do that?

For me, what comes after the bullet points, ideas, and talk (all necessary for a stong foundation) comes the hard work of changing my behaviors, beliefs, and actions. All of which takes lots of persistence and practice.

pete

Tracy Rosen

Yes, this is a great conversation.

Persistence and practice are essential to change behaviours - they certainly do not change on their own.

Having access to theory (aka bullet points, ideas, and talk :) ) and to other people with whom I can make sense of theory in relation to practice, and vice versa, can help me to remain persistent and continue to practice changing my behaviours, which will in turn affect my beliefs. (boy, that was a long sentence!)

Only when there is a shift at my core - at the level of beliefs - can change in my behaviour take place. This has happened to me in the past when I have been confronted with my own beliefs in light of new theories I have learned and new experiences I have had. It has only happened in conversation with others.

Tracy

Steve Poling

Fullan address what you guys are saying. He says many times that leaders need to be 'systems thinkers in action'. He aligns with Senge in emphasizing a systems approach. Fullan has awesome articles and resources on his website at: http://www.michaelfullan.ca/

Thanks for the great discussion!

Steve

Tracy Rosen

Thanks for the link, Steve. I've bookmarked it and am looking forward to reading through his articles.
Reading articles that are aligned with my own thinking is a way to fuel my passion and keep going, keep doing!

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