- Read Theory U
- Take a Learning Style Self-Assessment
- Take a Systems Thinking Workshop
- Attend a Pegasus Conference
- Spend a Day in a Different School (or Shadow a Colleague)
1. Read Theory U
Across all fields, top-down management models are increasingly out of step with the personal needs of people and the optimal conditions for productivity. This has created a pressing need for new methods of mobilizing individual and collective intelligence in the service of social change.
Otto Scharmer’s book Theory U is a major contribution to this search. The book presents a range of principles and practices for developing the capacity for innovative leadership. The principles of Theory U can help school leaders break through past unproductive patterns of behavior that recycle ineffective patterns of decision making.
For an introduction to Theory U, and/or to view excerpts from the book, click here.
2. Take a Learning Style Self-Assessment
Bernice McCarthy’s 4MAT system, a synthesis of numerous researchers’ work, identifies four archetypal learning styles: Imaginative, Analytic, Common Sense, and Dynamic. The characteristics of each are derived largely from the intersection of two continua. The first is how we perceive information, and where we fall along the continuum of experiencing/feeling/thinking. The second is how we process the information we have taken in, and the pace at which we move from reflective to active processing.
Understanding how we learn has major implications for our understanding of how we see (and fail to see) the world around us.
For more information about 4MAT, click here to visit About Learning’s web site.
3. Take a Systems Thinking Workshop
One of the best ways to become more comfortable with the change process is to develop the capacity to see and diagnose problems and challenges more systemically.
To help educators acquire these skills, the Waters Foundation was founded to “increase the capacity of educators to deliver student academic and lifetime benefits through the effective application of systems thinking concepts, habits and tools in classroom instruction and school improvement.”
To find classroom lessons, schedule a workshop, or access its list of resources, click here to visit the Waters Foundation’s Web site.
4. Attend a Pegasus Conference
Since 1989, Pegasus Communications has tried to help individuals, teams, and organizations thrive in an increasingly complex world. At Pegasus’s annual Systems Thinking in Action® Conference, leading theorists and practitioners from around the world meet to explore new concepts, build (and apply) their skills, and share knowledge about systems thinking and organizational change.
To learn more about the Pegasus Conference, click here.
5. Spend a Day in a Different School (or Shadow a Colleague)
Sometimes, all it takes to begin seeing things differently is a subtle shift in our environment. A great way to do this is by spending a professional development day in a neighboring school – or by closely shadowing a colleague in your own school – and observing closely what you see.
Some structured debriefing may make the experience even more useful. Here are a few sample questions you might consider:
- What struck me (or surprised me) the most? Why did this stand out?
- With what did I connect most personally? Why did this touch me?
- If the shared culture of the school I visited was a living thing, what would it look, feel and act like?
- If that living thing could talk, what would it say to us?
- If it could develop, what would it want to morph into next?
- What aspects of the culture (good and) bad are allowing this “living thing” to thrive?
- What aspects (good or bad) are hindering its further development?
- If the shared culture of my own school was a living thing, how would it resemble what I just described? How is it different?
- Based on my answers to the above questions, what are the major implications I must confront before moving forward?