Dan Rockell: 10 Ways to Expand Power to Get Things Done


Reposted from Leadership Freak:

The more power you have, the more things you get done. Here are 10 ways to expand your power:

1. Make others feel powerful. Expand power by giving authority to people who get things done.
– Hoarded power shrinks, but shared authority expands your ability to get things done.

2. Expose frailties; never whine. The battle makes you beautiful.
– Ugly leaders pretend they have it all together.
– We connect with people who work through frailties.
– The operative expression is “work through.”
– Vulnerability isn’t an excuse for weakness.

3. Bring up awkward issues with optimism.
– Weak leaders dance around elephants. Powerful leaders invite them to dance.

4. Assume you talk too much, if you have position and authority.
– People with power believe they have the right to talk more than others.
– Listen at least 60% of the time.

5. Take action after listening. Listening isn’t leading. Quiet, by itself, isn’t strength.
– Leaders take action. The more you get done, the more powerful you become.
– Wrestle big problems into submission.

Read More…

How Social Media Impacts the Politics of Education

Reposted from the Consortium for Policy Research in Education:


We live amidst an increasingly dense technology-fueled network of social interactions that connects us to people, information, ideas, and events which together inform and shape our understanding of the world around us. In the last decade, technology has enabled an exponential growth of these social networks. Social media tools like Facebook and Twitter are engines of a massive communication system in which a single idea can be shared with thousands of people in an instant. Twitter, in particular, represents a compelling resource because it has become a kind of “central nervous system” of the Internet, connecting policymakers, journalists, advocacy groups, professionals, and the general public in the same social space. Twitter users can share a variety of media including news, opinions, web links, and conversations in a publicly accessible forum.

In this project we use Twitter to analyze the intense debate surrounding the Common Core State Standards. The Common Core has become a flashpoint at the nexus of education politics and policy, fueled by ardent social media activists. To explore this phenomenon, this innovative and interactive website examines the Common Core debate through the lens of the influential social media site Twitter. Using a social network perspective that examines the relationships among actors, we focus on the most highly used Twitter hashtag about the Common Core: #commoncore. The central question of our investigation is: How are social media-enabled social networks changing the discourse in American politics that produces and sustains social policy?

This interactive website utilizes a two dimensional approach to tell the story of the Common Core debate on Twitter. The website is organized horizontally across major categories of the story: a Prologue, four Acts (the Social Network, Players, Chatter, Motivations), and an Epilogue – each of which goes increasingly deeper into the #commoncore story. Each of these major categories also contains different sub-stories, or sections, that unfurl vertically underneath them. The figure below depicts the organization of the website. Take a look to familiarize yourself with the architecture and then start exploring!

Read More…

Download the Project Report [PDF]

Download the Project Methodology [PDF]

Visit the Consortium for Policy Research in Education site

Election Implications for Education


Reposted from U.S. News & World Report:

This was not an election about education. But it should be no surprise that the nation’s schools and colleges, which together constitute the largest piece of state spending, will be front and center when determining what the results mean for the nation’s families.

Teachers unions alone spent more than $60 million dollars. For the second time in three years, they painted a neon target on the back of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. (Remember, a few years ago, Walker successfully waged a hugely controversial fight to whittle down the say that union contracts have in Wisconsin’s schools.) The unions also went after Republican Govs. Rick Snyder in Michigan, Sam Brownback in Kansas and Rick Scott in Florida, as well as Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gina Raimondo in Rhode Island. (Raimondo took on public sector unions as state treasurer.) Lee Saunders, president of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, went so far as to tell the Washington Post that they “have a score to settle with Scott Walker.” Lily Esklesen Garcia, president of the National Education Association, stumped for Snyder’s opponent on Saturday and Scott’s on Sunday.

The unions lost in each of these expensive, nail-biter races. They did pull out a win in the hugely expensive California superintendent’s race between two Democrats (more on that in a moment). But that was about the only bright spot. What could have been an impressive demonstration of teacher union might instead turned into another suggestion that teacher unions are still in the midst of an ongoing challenge to their influence, struggling to find their footing.

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If You Want To Change People, Change What They Talk About


Reposted from the Leadership Freak Blog:

Ask people to talk about what they’re good at and their eyes light up. For some, the topic of their strength is so awkward that it takes them time to get their bearings. Eventually, everyone smiles.

I often ask audiences to gather in the aisles and talk to each other about what they’re good at. It begins quietly and becomes boisterous. Smiles flash. When I ask them to return to their seats – so I can talk – they just keep talking.

Leaders influence what others talk about. How might leaders use the power of words to transform themselves, others, and their organizations? Here are 10 invitations to transformation…

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Prediction or Influence? Books That Forecast the Future [INFOGRAPHIC]


Not every science fiction story is meant to predict the future, but some of them have forecast future events with incredible accuracy. Created by Isabelle Turner using io9, this infographic illustrates some of the most exciting examples of science fiction that became fact. and how long it took for the future to catch up with each.




Who Owns Social Media? [INFOGRAPHIC]

who owns sm

Created by My Voucher Codes http://www.myvouchercodes.co.uk/

Remember who really owns social media! These websites and applications don’t just exist. Big companies invest heavily in them to increase their reach and influence, and of course to turn a profit. Read more here.

Superintendents Not Relevant to Learning Outcomes, Study Finds

superintendentReposted from Brookings Now:

The authors of a new research report from the Brown Center on Education Policy at Brookings find that school superintendents “have very little influence on student achievement collectively compared to all other components of the traditional education system that we measure.”

“Superintendents may well have impacts on factors we have not addressed in our study, such as the financial health of the district, parent and student satisfaction, and how efficiently tax dollars are spent,” the authors conclude. “And to be certain, superintendents occupy one of the American school system’s most complex and demanding positions. But our results make clear that, in general, school district superintendents have very little influence on student achievement in the districts in which they serve. This is true in absolute terms, with only a fraction of one percent of the variance in student achievement accounted for by differences among superintendents. It is also true in relative terms, with teachers/classrooms, schools/ principals, and districts having an impact that is orders of magnitude greater than that associated with superintendents.”

Analyzing student-level data from the states of Florida and North Carolina for the school years 2000-01 to 2009-10, the authors find that:

  • School district superintendent is largely a short-term job. The typical superintendent has been in the job for three to four years.
  • Student achievement does not improve with longevity of superintendent service within their districts.
  • Hiring a new superintendent is not associated with higher student achievement.
  • Superintendents account for a very small fraction (0.3 percent) of student differences in achievement. This effect, while statistically significant, is orders of magnitude smaller than that associated with any other major component of the education system, including: measured and unmeasured student characteristics; teachers; schools; and districts.
  • Individual superintendents who have an exceptional impact on student achievement cannot be reliably identified.

Dig deeper here.

Read More….

Download the report here. (16 pages)

Making That Choice Every Day

ImageI remember back in the day, interviewing for a Director of Technology position in my home state of Massachusetts. It was a well-to-do district right on 128 outside of Boston. Eight schools, tight budgets, excellent reputation, committed staff, dedicated leader: a pretty typical profile for the region. I was impressed in talking with the superintendent and his senor staff. But I knew my value proposition: to bring in my expertise and experience and help move the district forward. For all my accomplishments and reputation, they were in reality looking for someone to keep the district’s technology running on a shoestring. They found me an attractive candidate; I came back three times for interviews, culminating in a day visiting all the schools and building administrators and technology staff across the district. Still I was aware of the disconnect between what they wanted and what I had to offer. I pushed the envelope in the interviews and in the side conversations: I believe in the transformative potential of technology.

It finally came down to one conversation. After a very upbeat ninety minutes sharing ideas with district department heads, everyone moved on with their day and I was left to have a one-on-one with my prospective immediate supervisor. Our minds were in the same place. “Walter, how do you see the role of the Director of Technology in our district?” Without pause I responded, “To create and carry out a vision for educational and administrative technology that best serves the superintendent and his staff and most importantly, the students.” The fact that the district Director of Technology did not report directly to the superintendent was a red flag for me. Technology is too important and pervasive in a school district for the tech head to have anything less than direct access to the superintendent. I figured if he and I got the point of discussing a job offer, I would bring it up.

“So how would that work, when the superintendent has his own vision for the district?” she asked with less of a smile, more of an assertion. “Well of course, I serve at the pleasure of the superintendent. But it would be my job to advise him and provide him with the best information and professional judgment possible in forming his vision around technology.” A look of concern came across her face. “But isn’t it the job of the Technology Director to carry out the wishes of the superintendent? What happens if you disagree? Where is the line between advising and serving?” I’m sure I looked similarly concerned as she belabored the point. “I want to work in a district that values my expertise; where I am part of the superintendent’s leadership team. I would certainly carry out his wishes, but I have a responsibility to the district to push thinking around technology and deliver the very best value for its use in instruction and professional productivity.”


She leaned in over the table. “Walter you can’t just come in and expect to push an agenda. The superintendent has an excellent vision and our team is all on board in supporting it. You need to fulfill your role in supporting his programs.” I continued to diplomatically agree with her points – I certainly wasn’t disagreeing – and at the same time collegially advocate for a robust, energetic Technology Directorship. As the conversation went on, I understood this was less about the work or the superintendent and more about this proud professional who did not want some live wire reporting to her. We concluded our conversation amicably and I went on my way. I wasn’t sure of the outcome, but I was comfortable that I had conducted myself genuinely and professionally.

A week went by, and the next Monday morning I got a call from that district’s superintendent. He was still interested and offered me the job. The salary, benefits, everything was acceptable; except for my one concern. I told him that I would be interested in accepting the position if I could report directly to him. He seemed caught off guard. After an awkward pause, he said he would be glad to consider it; he would get back to me in a couple of days. But when he called back, he asked if there was any way I could work in the current reporting structure; he had a lot of hoops to jump through to get my position reclassified and approved as his direct report. In Massachusetts, even administrative positions are part of collective bargaining, and it can be difficult to make changes to positions and contracts at will. I told him I understood, but I did not feel I could be effective in the position as it was currently structured. We thanked each other, he expressed his regrets and we agreed to move on our separate ways.


I guess I could have told that school district what they wanted to hear, played the game and got the job. But then what? I never would have made the difference in my career that I intended. And by sticking to my guns, I held out for opportunities where I could have impact and be true to my values and vision for technology in education. Running technology departments in Salem and Northborough-Southborough, Massachusetts and later in Arlington, Virginia, I learned that just finding the right fit is not enough. No matter how great the working situation and technology advancements, that fundamental choice continued to confront me every day: to do the heavy lifting on behalf of children and their future, or to give in to the dead weight of the status quo. It’s a choice we all face – each of us – every single day.

I felt prompted to write this post in response to Dr. Spike Cook’s blog post, “Do We Really Want Gutsy Leaders?” in which he asked pointed questions and made important points about the realities of education leadership. I always thought if I advanced up to higher spheres of influence, I’d have a greater ability to make change.  The reality is, the higher I moved up, the more time I spent addressing administrative demands and navigating pressures to conform to the institution, instead of dedicating myself to the real work that demanded my attention. I never gave into those pressures, but after a 25 year career in public education, I made the decision I wanted to spend the remainder of my career working outside the system. It has been a refreshing and invigorating change, and I am having more impact than I ever did on the inside. And I continue to hold onto my belief that, regardless of what sphere of education in which we choose to work, the more educators who stand up and speak out for what is best for children today, the more the critical mass will build, and eventually real transformation can and will take place.