This is exciting - this September will be the first in 15 years that I don't step into the classroom as a teacher (and, as my husband pointed out, it will be the first in 35 years that I don't step into the classroom as either a student or a teacher).
My first summer read was Good to Great, by Jim Collins. I became familiar with the book a few years ago when one of my friends was reading it. I understood it to be a business book - how to get ahead in the industry - and it is. But after seeing a number of educators refer to it online, I thought I'd give it a read. Turns out, it was the perfect pick to get me thinking how I can answer these questions.
In short, Collins discusses how good companies became GREAT companies in their respective industries. He looks at leadership qualities, how to build a great supporting team, the role of technology and how to create finely-honed goals... a lot of which can be applied directly to an educational forum.
The Three Circles & the Hedgehog Concept
The three circles: Three dimensions to help identify your core values, and focus your efforts or role within an organization/industry.
Hedgehog concept: A simple, crystalline concept that reflects deep understanding of the three circles. It's a go-to concept that guides decision-making and how you address challenges.
BHAG: A huge and daunting goal, of almost scary proportions. Without realizing the background of the BHAG, I've tried working toward some in previous years, with some exciting results.
Julie Balen (@jacbalen) recently gave my thinking a push by adapting the three circles to apply to leadership in education as opposed to leadership in industry. In her own reflection, she re-wrote the big questions as:
Getting the Right People on the BusThis coming year, our board is moving toward implementing a different kinds of professional development by means of collaborative inquiry projects. Good to Great discussed the importance of getting the right people on the team, and in the right roles; I'm looking forward to working with principals to make sure the right people are on the collaborative inquiry project buses, and sitting in the right seats.
With the right people in place, a solid collective vision will form and the motivation will come from within. I can think of no better model for PD than to have teachers drive their own learning.
Technology is an Accelerator, not a Deciding FactorAll of the good-to-great companies mentioned in the book made use of technology to become great, but they didn't use technology for technology's sake. They didn't jump on technology bandwagons and try to harness each new fad as it came about. Instead, they looked at how technology could help them answer their driving questions, or help them achieve their big, hairy, audacious goal. They were slow and deliberate, choosing only a handful of tools to focus on. Mastering those, they were able to skyrocket to "great" status.
I was reminded of this graphic that a colleague and I used in some of our board-level PD this past year:
Wherein Lie my Passions?The last chapter of the book is one of the most motivational. Collins talks about how while these ideas can take a company from good to great, they can also be applied to other endeavours: coaching, small business, volunteering. He asks, what other areas of your life can be made great using these same concepts?
I'm passionate about my work, but that's not all. I'm passionate about my gymnastics team. How can I make use of the three circles to come up with a Hedgehog concept and a BHAG for the team next year? We're on the right track, having won a provincial championship last season, but now I'm looking to build on that momentum. What questions should we, the coaches, focus on as we look to expand on our successes?
I'm also passionate about singing. I'm not looking to become the BEST singer, or even a "great" singer, but I am always looking to improve. I wonder how I can use a pared down version of the three questions to choose a method of improving my technique and sound over the course of the next concert season?
There's a lot more to think about yet, particularly how I can help coach these new project teams in the fall, but it's great to have a framework with which I can help take those teams from good to great.
What are you reading this summer?