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Posted by on in Education Leadership

There are lots of problems in education, big systemic problems, governance problems, structural problems that seem unsolvable sometimes because they’re so deeply rooted in the way things have always be done.  And then there are problems that are so darn easy to fix, it’s a wonder they haven’t already been solved.

One of those easy problems is the tall poppy problem (or syndrome).  If you’re not familiar with that expression, it’s one of those fabulously apt British turns of phrase (also popular in Australia).  Wikipedia defines it as describing “aspects of a culture where people of high status are resented, attacked, cut down and/or criticised simply because they have been classified as superior to their peers.”  While I’m not keen on the term “superior” in their definition, I’m sadly all too familiar with the problem itself; virtually every teacher I know who has moved into a leadership role, whether in their school or in their system has experienced it.  When a poppy gets too tall, we cut it down to size.

“Wow, the superintendent is coming to your class again?!?”

“You’re sure out of the school a lot.”

“Why does she get to go to so many conferences?!?”

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Posted by on in Professional Development

Are you sick of “professional development experts” that are flown into your district at an exorbitant price tag to deliver long sit and get trainings that are often over before the expert gets back home? Who has the money or the patience for this antiquated practice? Not me! Who are the professionals/experts in your building? You are! Who knows your students and school wide needs better than you do? No one!

Leverage the talent within your building through a formalized peer observation process that puts you, the teachers, in charge of your own professional development. Questions you should ask yourselves are:

Are we getting the results that we want? If so, what are we doing to provide sustainability for these practices as teachers come and go?

If we are not getting the results that we want, what are we doing to change the tide?

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Posted by on in Education Leadership

canary

Dating back to 1911, coal miners in Britian began taking canaries in birdcages into the mine shafts with them.  Canaries had a sensitivity to dangerous gases, such as carbon monoxide. Miners worked in areas that had potential for gases to be exposed after a mine explosion or fire. If the canary became distressed or died, miners knew to evacuate the mine shaft as soon as possible.  For the miner, they served as an early warning detection. Hence, the quote, "A Canary in a Coal Mine".

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As leaders, what are your canaries?  Like the miner, educational leaders need to also develop early warning detection systems.  Also, like the miner, early warning detection systems are created to avoid negative consequences to stay healthy, move towards the intended goals, and stay alive.  Too often, leaders find themselves in trouble that could have been avoided if only they had identified and observed early warning signs.  

Too-often-leaders-find-themselves-in-trouble-that-could-have-been-avoided-if-only-they-had-identified-and-observed-early-warning-signs.-2.jpg

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