Sunday, September 6, 2009

Adpative Schools

I attended the first two days out of four of the "Adaptive School" session with trainer, John Clarke. These initial two days of training were thought provoking and powerful in stimulating a spirit of collaboration and inquiry. Each participant was provided with a Syllabus, "The Adaptive School: A Sourcebook for Developing Collaborative Groups" (Garmson & Wellman, 2009). Each table group was also provided with one copy of the companion book. For more about the session and sources, visit - from the Centre for Adaptive Schools web site.

What is an adaptive school? Garmson and Wellman (2009) contend the, "adaptive school is about developing strong schools in which collaborative faculties are capable of meeting the certain challenges of today and the uncertain challenges of tomorrow (p.iii). This topic is timely due to the current state of economic uncertainties in the province of Alberta and a desire to provide 21st century education for all students.

Some highlights from my notes regarding the "Adaptive School" session:
A variety of strategies for working with adult learners were modeled and used throughout the two-day session. The participants had numerous opportunities to connect, collaborate and co-construct learning with colleagues in the room. Some strategies I plan to try: Just Like Me Statements (stand-up), Give One to Get One (introductions/cue cards); Fractal Partners; First Word/Last Word Round table (share one idea from article); A-B read sections & identify key phrase; 100 pennies to divide among 3 topics; Gots/Wants post-it

I was amazed, that Clarke could identify every participant by name on the first day since there were over 100 participants in the room! As presenter and facilitator, he intentionally connected with all!

During one of our group activities we were asked to identify driving forces that require educational change. Once each table group brainstormed various ideas, our group generated a statement that encompassed our dialogue: "As society changes, we need to foster student-centered 21st century learning for all students through informed collaboration with all stakeholders."

Reflective questions for improving student learning
-Who are we? (identity)
-Why are we doing this? (attention to unquestioned habits)
-Why are we doing this this way? (who benefits)

The elements of professional communities:
-Compelling purpose, shared standards, and academic focus
-Collective efficacy and shared responsibility for student learning
-Collaborative culture
-Communal application of effective teaching practices and deprivatized practice
-Relational trust in one another, in students and parents
-Individual and group learning based on ongoing assessment and feedback

Productive group work requires practice in:
-Facilitating groups
-Developing groups
-Becoming a more skillful group member

  • Know one's intentions and choose congruent behaviors
  • Set aside unproductive patterns of listening, responding and inquiring (i.e. autobiographical, inquisitive, solution).
  • Know when to self-assert and when to integrate
  • Know and support the group's purposes, topics, processes and development
Five Energy Sources for High-Performing Groups - high performing groups are adaptive; they learn from experience and improve the way they work.
1.Efficacy - belief in group capacity
2.Flexibility - review from multiple perspectives
3.Craftsmanship - high standards; communications
4.Consciousness - continuous monitoring
5.Interdependence - value for internal and external relationships

Ways of talking - deliberately distinguish between dialogue and discussion
-Dialogue - reflective; ideas flow; suspend judgment; develop shared understanding; collective process; the outcome is shared understanding
-Discussion - macro centric perspective (balcony view); the outcome is the decision-making process

Promoting a Spirit of Inquiry - high performing groups/members infuse their work with a spirit of inquiry (purposeful, skillful inquiry)

The Seven Norms of Collaborative Work - result in cohesion, energy, and commitment to shared work; serve as guides or benchmarks in groups:
3.Putting inquiry at the centre
5.Placing ideas on the table
6.Paying attention to self and others
7.Presuming positive intentions

I look forward to practicing many of these strategies over the next couple of weeks before we meet again for two more days of training! I intend to pay close attention to my role in groups as facilitator and group member, distinguishing between dialogue and discusion and following the norms of collaborative work in promoting inquiry.