education

Professional capital – Transforming teaching in every school (book 2 of 12)

Professional capital – Transforming teaching in every school (book 2 of 12)

February 24, 2019
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Professional capital – Transforming teaching in every school.
A book by Alan Hargreaves and Michael Fullan.

“In the end, nobody can give you professional capital. It’s an investment. […] Nobody’s going to be prepared to invest in anyone unless they are willing to invest in themselves. This is by far the best place, and indeed the first place, to begin.” 

I remember a coachwalk I had with a client, who got a massive insight into exactly this: how he had mistakenly believed that it was the sole responsibility of his employer to invest in him, rather than something he also had responsibility for. By (also) investing in himself, he would be increasing his own human and professional capital, serving both himself as well as his current, and future, employers.

“Working with big ballroom audiences, or conducting training workshops outside of school or using one-to-one coaching to enforce compliance with imposed programs, has little deep or long-standing impact on teachers’ daily practice.
What is crucial is what happens between workshops. Who tries things out? Who supports you? Who gives you feedback? Who picks you up when you make a mistake the first time? Who else can you learn from? How can you take responsibility for change together? The key variable that determines success in any innovation, in other words, is the degree of social capital in the culture of your own school Learning is the work, and social capital is the fuel. If social capital is weak, everything else is destined for failure.”

As I have been working with Pernilla Tillander with all pre-school as well as all school-staff in the commune of Skurup in the south of Sweden during 2017-2018, I am totally onboard here. We have done four half-day workshops with all staff (in groups of maximum 70 people), spread out over two semesters, with process leaders following up b e t w e e n the modules – and those follow-up sessions have been absolutely critical for the success of the personal group development we were hired to provide! Because the truth is this: we can provide an opportunity for personal group development through leadership training. But we, me and Pernilla, are not the ones who makes it happen for real, that is up to the participants. We do our bit of the work, of course, but the rest is up to the participants. They have to do the work: “The best place to begin is always with yourself. Your own experiences, frustrations, ideals, and sense of self are the crucial starting points.”

Now, this is a book with a lot of good stuff. It’s well laid out and presented, and ends with clear and concise suggestions for developing roadmaps ahead, on three levels, for teachers; for school and district administrators; and for state, government and union/federation leaders. And I definitely think there’s a lot of value to be had, in making the suggested changes to ensure a growing and continuously evolving professional capital. (And honestly, they do target teaching and education, but there’s plenty of value for any person, organization or workplace interested in culture and development through learning better, more and continuously.)

Hargreaves and Fullan push all the way to the edges of the box I call the school system. But boy would I like to see them push beyond those edges! Now that would be something extraordinary, that’s for sure. Because although they are great at prodding sore spots, identifying areas that must be transformed…. they are still locked within the paradigm of schools, in the way schools are, and have been, since they were first created. They do make a pass at the unit of the lesson but fail to take their own advice, never fully making a pass at the unit of schools.

“The unit of the lesson that Hattie adopts as the standard currency of teaching and schooling is more than a century old. Yet, lessons have never been the only unit of teaching and they will likely become less and less the unit of teaching in the future. […] If we are saying that it is outdated to base teachers’ contracts on class sizes, using the class as the unit of calculation, then we have to acknowledge that among administrators and researchers, the lesson may be and should be becoming equally outdated as the unit of teaching and learning too.”

Don’t you agree with me that it would be very interesting to see them take this critical viewpoint up a notch or two, encompassing the entire system of schooling and education?


The book I am blogging about is part of the book-reading challenge I’ve set for myself during 2019, to read and blog about 12 Swedish and 12 English books, one every other week, books that I already own.

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Creating tomorrow’s schools today (book 2 of 26)

January 28, 2018
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First time I met Richard Gerver he attended an ENTRIS-conference in Sweden, in 2013. Almost five years ago – time sure does fly by when one’s having a lot of fun! I started talking to him during one of the breaks, and then we continued the conversation over email. He also guest blogged for #skolvåren (aka school spring), a movement initiated by me and a few others on Twitter a few month before I met Gerver.

Susanne, Ann, Richard, yours truly and Therese, Oct 27th, 2014.

Susanne, Ann, Richard, yours truly and Therese, in Huddinge, in October, 2014.

A year and a half later I met up with him again, as he was talking at a conference hosted by the schools in Huddinge outside Stockholm. Four fifths of the #skolvåren back office attended and got a nice chat with Richard as you can see in the accompanying wefie.

Around that time, in 2013-14, I also bought two books written by him, but never got around to reading either of them, until now, that is. I tackled Creating tomorrow’s schools today as the second English book-I-already-own-but-haven’t-yet-read. I have a copy published in 2012, although the book was first released in 2010. And it is a bit dated, with references to Second Life as well as the hope installed in the US and the world by Barack Obama in his first term as President. That just feels a bit… well… outdated, there’s no other word for it really.

Disregarding that though, I did enjoy the read, especially the second part which tells the tale of the transformation of Grange Primary School – a very inspiring read I must say! There’s a lot I can say about the educational systems around the world, but one of the things I strongly believe in is the need for more diversity. It’s impossible to create one type of learning environment that will suit everyone. I just don’t believe in it. And in the diversity of educational settings that I envision (including both home and un-schooling), what was created (and is alive and kicking still today!) at Grange Primary School certainly fits the bill as well.

Or in the words of Richard Gerver:
“Up to now we have educated all children with one model, with one set of values and for one perceived purpose; that education is the answer. It can only be the answer if we understand that we are living in a different world and that the education on offer needs to meet the needs of the diversity of society. To do that we must stop believing that education is something that must be done to children and that one size will fit all. We must do more to value children, their cultures and their backgrounds.” (page 17)

The book I am blogging about is part of the book-reading challenge I’ve set for myself during 2018, to read and blog about 26 Swedish and 26 English books, one book every week, books that I already own.

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Join me in Creating transformative communities worldwide!

February 21, 2017
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Speaker lineup Telesummit 2017That’s the overarching theme for this year’s tele summit, by the Center for Sustainable Change with Sheela Masand as the session hostess. Five days with two sessions each day, centering on the theme of creating transformative communities worldwide, which certainly is a theme that attracts me! I will be one of the “conversationists” (yeah, I just made that word up. I tend to do that, when I don’t find a word that fits the bill – But perhaps there is one already though? Please let me know if that’s the case! – so there you go. We’re not speakers, in the traditional sense, I don’t have a speech prepared for my participation, but rather, me and Brooke will have a conversation, with Sheela and you, if you participate – you can also ask your own questions and/or input your two cents – around the topic for the session.) on Tuesday 28th of February at the late session at 8 pm CET on Connecting the spark in educationThere are many more interesting topics, so be sure to register (for free) to listen in and participate on the sessions that calls out to you.

The importance and, more than that, the impact communities have to create transformative and sustaining change, is a thing we talk too little about I find. There are great examples though, and we should definitely be talking more about those, spreading the word, and from that, perhaps inspiring people in other communities to try something new, to sow seeds of transforming change in their local settings as well.

Bright spots. That’s what Dan and Chip Heath (oh, how I appreciate those two brothers, and if you haven’t read their books, I suggest you pick one up! I’d go for Switch: How to change things when change is hard first.) call it. The small, and seemingly irrelevant things, that can make such a difference, sometimes literally being the difference between life and death (read the book, and you’ll find the Vietnamese example of mothers mixing the rice they give their kids with small, but oh so importance, pieces of greens. That’s the bright spot that’s stuck with me ever since I first read this book 5-6 years ago or so). Sharing those bright spots that we know of, the one’s we’ve been involved in ourselves, where we’ve seen the difference first hand, is empowering.

So join me, and others from across the globe, in conversation on different aspects of creating transformative change worldwide, on Sunday 26th until Thursday March 2nd. Register for free here: http://www.centerforsustainablechange.org/global-telesummit#register

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