Schools can be adaptive, creative, innovative spaces. They can embrace all the vital characteristics of a successful ecosystem: creative, adaptive, permeable, dynamic, systemic, and self-correcting – truly out-of-the-box thinking removed from the past industrial model.
Grant Lichtman describes the cognitosphere – reminiscent of William Gibson’s “post geographical meta-country” description of the internet. Lichtman believes schools should harness their access to the cognitosphere, or shared and responsive knowledge platforms, by working together in collaborative clusters; an initiative that many New Zealand schools have already embraced Communities of Learning introduced in 2014 as part of the IES initiative. Positives of the CoL school networks – problems at one school have most likely already been solved at another, networking enables us to share solutions. The cluster model helps promote the imagery of schools as connected ecosystems. This big idea brings in the next question though – how do we get better at working together, so that our ecosystems thrive?
Essential to a healthy ecosystem, are innovative leaders. Confident communication, and encouragement in groups, is how ‘leaders’ emerge. People with positive social skills tend to support and encourage others to step outside their comfort zones and try something new. How does this play out in online forums where the physical aspect of ‘co-presence’ is negated? Online social skills and leadership is becoming increasingly important as more of our networking and interactions take place in the ‘cognitosphere’, where immediate feedback via body language and voice tone are invisible. Intrapersonal and interpersonal skills for face to face and online collaboration are crucial, so how do we foster their development in ourselves and our learners?
Practising focused, mindful presence, during face-to-face situations and while online networking will attune learners to the nuance and idiosyncrasies of both situations and support them to engage in deep learning, as well as develop productive relationships.
In my current learning environment my co-teacher and I have regular citizenship sessions. We hold face-to-face circle times and speak openly, and we also hold digital citizenship discussions and tutorials. I believe both are equally important and am proud that my co-teacher and I recognised the need to explicitly teach mindful interactions and have responded to it.
Exploration and discovery in this time of change and technological development is going to require embracing some challenges with enthusiasm and overcoming obstacles with positivity and perseverance. Understanding self and appreciating the diverse perspectives of others is fundamental to innovative ‘thought leadership’ and followership.
The NZC Key Competencies are important to learner development and this week we were given an additional framework of 21st Century Skills alongside them to inspire fresh thinking and re-inspiration about how the KC’s can be interpreted and developed.
|Key Competencies:||ITL Research 21st Century Skills:|
|Understanding language, symbols, texts||Problem Solving and Innovation|
|Relating to Others||Skilled Communication|
|Participating and Contributing||Collaboration|
|Use of ICT for Learning|
How might teachers’ and students strengths in developing capabilities in thinking, using language, symbols and texts, managing self, relating to others, and participating and contributing, be recognised and celebrated?
- Role-modelling Key Competencies in the classroom, encouraging them as skills in our learners.
- Utilising the cluster model as a network and opportunity to practice the Key Competencies as a professional.
- Awareness of cognitive, interpersonal, and intrapersonal strengths and areas for development and seeking out ways to refine and reflect on practice and purpose.
Whāia te iti kahurangi ki te tūohu koe me he maunga teitei
~Seek the treasure you value most dearly: if you bow your head, let it be to a lofty mountain.