Next week I will have the privilege of seeing many of you at the fourth annual Leadership Institute at the Kensington Hotel in Ann Arbor. All materials, information, announcements relating to this institute will come through the APP. If you haven’t downloaded it, directions appear later in this blog post. It’s fast and easy and I think you’ll love the convenience.
The Blueprint Institute in August is now also at capacity and we have begun wait listing those who are registering. It is, of course, my hope that we will be able to accommodate everyone. If you have folks on the waitlist for the August institute, we will communicate with those individuals directly about the status of their registration.
Further updates on the Blueprint Institute will be made available to you throughout the summer via the APP.
Summer is a very busy time in a Blueprint district. With the luxury of being able to fully focus on planning and installation, please know that we are here to support you. In the past several years, I think my schedule is the craziest in the summer when many of our district leaders take advantage of this time to hyper focus on systemic reconfiguration. I know I’m putting 1000 miles on the road this week alone. Don’t hesitate to reach out if I can be of assistance to you anytime throughout the summer.
In this new feature of Blueprint Installation Central, we’ll highlight a specific Blueprint component and then carry that conversation to the rest of the Dialogue Series that week. So in today’s post, we will explore an aspect of the the Blueprint’s Outer Ring and we’ll continue that conversation in our Twitter Live Chat tonight with guest moderator, Chris Parker, at 7:30 p.m.
Why do we need an outer ring? There is a plethora of research which substantiates this WHY. Parrett and Budge (2012), state, “To learn, children and adolescents need to feel safe and supported. Without these conditions, the mind reverts to a focus on survival. A healthy, safe, and supportive learning environment enables students, adults, and even school systems to learn in powerful ways. Such an environment promotes innovation, inquiry, and risk taking.”
Joseph Murphy from Vanderbilt University adds that, “It is critical to develop a meaningful, positive relationship with a student in order to exercise academic press and influence.” Murphy, Parrett, and Budge emphasize the importance of supporting students emotionally, providing psychological safety, and establishing caring relationships. When those factors are in place, students are readier to learn, take risks, and are more open to rigor and high expectations.
Sharratt & Fullan in 2009 point out, “Even if a system has established a vision and an infrastructure of support, the presence of accountable and responsible leaders demonstrates that good leaders can accelerate the pace of progress.” Further evidence shows, “School leaders and professional staff in Achievement Gain schools have assumed collective responsibility and ownership of the pursuit of greater student achievement. Strong leaders and proactive leadership teams intentionally foster collective responsibility by mobilizing structures, strategies, practices and the use of resources for the ongoing evaluation and improvement for instruction,” according to Brett Lane, 2014
The Outer Ring’s foundational goal for adults to take collective responsibility and function with collegiality, collaboration, and professionalism is strongly supported in the research and a very necessary element in Systemic Reconfiguration.
Let’s think about HOW the Outer Ring is connected to all systems in the BLUEPRINT. Consider the District Network, the Building Network, and Instructional Infrastructure as examples. Is it possible to attain high levels of adult practice without being collegial, collaborative, and professional? Does that not all begin with an attitude of Collective Responsibility? Isn’t this our URGENT business? In Performance Management we strive to track adult and student progress without judgment; without making it personal; without blame. We need a clear and accurate picture or snapshot of where we are today to compare with where we want to go (our goals), and then plan our next steps to move closer to our goal.
We know that students and adolescents need to feel safe, cared for, and supported to learn. With human beings, emotions tend to rule and often ‘win out’ over the intellect. So the BLUEPRINT’s Outer Ring “Grounded in a safe, orderly and respectful environment for students” is also grounded in our Sense of Urgency for students. Instructional Infrastructure and Intense Student Support Network are easy connections of course. Our end goal is to increase student achievement by increasing teacher and leader performance. So every relationship within the system is interdependent.
The Outer Ring encompasses every aspect and every area of the BLUEPRINT. When we intentionally focus on the Outer Ring it guides us to create the cultural conditions for adults and students necessary to embrace, engage, and accelerate change. The two Outer Ring statements serve as an over-arching guideline for HOW to maintain a Sense of Urgency and to conduct all our endeavors to bring about Dramatic Improvement for Student, Teacher, & Leader Performance in a short amount of time.
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