Developing Teachers/Leaders

One of the podcasts that I religiously listen to is the Harvard Business Review IdeaCast. In each of these 10-15 minute episodes, various leaders are interviewed about their ideas and concepts. The last one was with Charles Duhigg, author of the book The Power of Habit,  a book I read earlier this spring that I absolutely loved.

Yesterday, while walking, I listed to the interview with Marcus Buckingham entitled Can an Algorithm Teach Leadership . There are several comments which piqued my interest while listening. Some of them were:

You see what different kinds of leaders you have. You pick individuals who represent each of the different kinds of leadership that exist within the company. You interview those people to find out what are their distinct practices? What are their techniques? What are their innovations? And although you’ll find some commonality across the different types or categories of leaders, what you mostly find is huge differences, differences of technique, differences of approach.

So you harvest these ideas. You do interviews. We call them Best Practice Discovery Interviews. You do Best Practice Discovery Interviews to figure out what are they doing differently. And then those best practices or innovations then kind of live up there in the cloud. Then, for future leaders, developing leaders within the company, they then take the algorithm

While not a new idea at all, this idea reminded me the how Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach and Will Richardson encouraged us to use a flip camera to capture our best practices and interviews. In a session entitled Rethinking Professional Development two years ago at the Laptop Institute, I recall hearing of a school principal who did just that, pulled out his smartphone or came back with his Mac and asked the teacher to record the excellence which they displayed. It does not have to be long, 1-2 minutes at most to capture the essence what was being shared.

Later in the conversation, Marcus shared the following:

JULIA KIRBY: So, now take me down to the level of the individual leader. What does this look like? If I’m one of these developing leaders and this is being– how am I receiving these tips or techniques?

MARCUS BUCKINGHAM: Yeah, well, in the past, I think, you would have probably receive them in some sort of training program. Or maybe, I don’t know, maybe you’d have gotten an email or something. But today, with the proliferation of smartphones and tablets, and I don’t mean at the highest levels. I mean I’m seeing, across all levels of leadership and management within huge companies, everyone’s got a smartphone or tablet.

Well, what that means, is that it’s really a communication channel. It’s a device where I can get customized video content, audio content, text content, that’s lively and vibrant and engaging. Whereas, even two years ago, I couldn’t get that.

So, what we’re seeing , I think, as the future is, if I’ve got a smartphone or a tablet, I’m getting a videotape of a real leader who’s like me. He’s got the same sort of strengths as me, telling me here’s what I do. And then, next week, I’m getting an audio clip of someone telling me, here’s what I do. And I’m getting it right into my smartphone. And then I can interact with it. I can ditch it or bank it.

So there’s some ongoing interactivity as I received this. And I, as an individual, therefore, feel much more invested in it. I’m ditching some stuff I still feel like.

With the proliferation of smartphones and tablets, I am rethinking how I may want to share these new best practices to encourage the new teachers that I work with of the exemplars that they are already doing. Making these snippets available, both on-demand and pushed to individuals is a great way to differentiate instruction even to the new teachers I will be working with.

These thoughts are making me ask, why are we wasting time in whole group instruction. Why not share clips, notes, and text to meet the variety of adult/teacher-learners styles?

I ponder and get ready for my new assignment.


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