Muhammad Conversation Highlights: Day 2

Have you had a chance to stop by our ongoing Voicethread conversation on transforming school culture with Solution Tree author Anthony Muhammad yet?

If you haven't, you're missing one of the most powerful focused conversations that I've been a part of in the past few months!  Together there are dozens of incredibly bright minds wrestling with change agency, teacher leadership, and effective staff development.  Every time that I stop in to read new comments, I have my own thinking challenged—and challenged thought is good thought!

If you're looking to get caught up quickly, check out this summary of yesterday's commentsYou might also be interested in these highlights from today's conversation

On slide 4, Randy—who is a Superintendent in New
York—makes an interesting distinction when defining "Believers."  Believers, he argues, are NOT defined by the work they do beyond the
classroom, but instead by their commitment to—and willingness to ensure—-student success in the classroom
.  That's got me wondering:  Are school leaders satisfied with Believers who do
great things in the classroom, or are they actively seeking Believers
willing to work beyond the classroom?  Is it possible for Believers to make meaningful contributions in school change efforts WITHOUT seeking to influence their peers? 

On slide 5, David Cohen—-a brilliant TLN colleague who works in California—started a neat strand of conversation
when he mentioned that he finds it difficult to challenge the practice
of others in his building because he knows that they have a deep
knowledge of his personal and professional
weaknesses.  He describes this as "the Glass House effect," and he's
wondering how other teachers deal with change agency in similar
situations. 

On slide 6, Dan, who is a professional development
provider, asks what role that PD can play in supporting Tweeners-–a group of teachers that Muhammad believes are crucial to moving schools forward.  A related question rumbling through my mind is what kinds of PD do
accomplished school leaders provide to progressive teachers to help them become
more effective and efficient change agents. 

And on the final slide, a teacher named Mrs. Williams asks a question that is
probably on the mind of the classroom teachers in the conversation: 
What practical skills do teacher need before they'll feel comfortable
challenging the kinds of low levels of belief in students that plague struggling schools? 
Here's to hoping that Anthony gives us one or two key behaviors that we can work to master.  I'd hate to walk away from this conversation with a bunch of great ideas and no clue how to make 'em happen in my building!

If you haven't stopped by our conversation yet, you should!  Here's the direct link.  I guarantee that you'll learn something.

If you have stopped by already, here's your day three challenge
Rather than posting something new to the conversation today, go in and
find a comment made by another participant to respond to.  It could be
something that made you think.  It could be something you completely
disagree with.  It could be something that you want to know more about.

Make today a day of interaction by interacting with an existing participant. 

After all, that's what good collaborative dialogue looks like in action, right?

One comment

  1. David Cohen

    Hi Bill,
    I enjoyed my brief foray into Voicethread, and hope to use it again for my own learning and perhaps with students too. Just to clarify the “Glass House Effect” – what I think I said, or meant to say, was that I am quite aware of my weaknesses. My colleagues may or may not be aware, but I am my own harshest critic. So, mindful of the idea that those in glass houses should not throw stones, I hesitate to head into sensitive areas that challenge my colleagues’ practices or beliefs. We don’t yet have the school culture I’d like to see, where we could be critical friends. If we have a department meeting and I want to challenge someone’s assumption that her grammar worksheets are leading to improved writing, I hesitate because I know my own writing instruction could use improvement too. I usually start my comments with some acknowledgment that I’m not claiming to have all the answers. Someone else in the group pointed out that these types of conversations can be more productive when we agree to eliminate “I think” or “I believe” statements, and maybe keep focused, as Anthony recommends, on information, data, research, etc.
    Sorry I couldn’t get into the conversation a few more times. Rough week!