In the book, Counting What Counts: Reframing Education Outcomes, there is an interesting comparison between the statues of Easter Island and the goal of high test scores in education. Just as the Easter Islanders based their success and progress by the statues, many in education have become obsessed with competing globally for the best test scores. The emphasis on these test scores has caused less emphasis on other areas of education which can be detrimental to the fostering of creativity and the acquisition of soft skills necessary to compete in a modern ecomony. Ironically, this movement, GERM (Global educational reform movement) is described as "infecting" education.
While certainly test scores have some worth in quantitative measurement of student progress, it cannot be the only measure, and alternatives must be considered. One of the book's authors, Dr. Yong Zhao, equates the measurement provided by test scores to the concept of one taking medicine to treat an ailment. While the medication can make a positive difference in the prognosis and progress of the health of the individual, there could be side effects of that medicine that hurt something else in the body along the way.
We must find a way to alternatively teach students and to evaluate progress to create more well-rounded, global citizens whose educational experience has been one to foster an entrepreneurial spirit so necessary in our existing and future society.
Friday, July 21, 2017
One new venture this year will be our partnership with Real World Scholars. This organization will be providing us with the resources and support to create our own in-house educational start up. Under the leadership of co-CEO's Makenna Peterson and Kate Stalcup, (both CAPS Teacher Ed returning students), we hope to start our own business with future education in mind and with an entrepreneurial flair that will create an authentic learning opportunity for them and their CAPS Teacher Education colleagues.
Other planned activities:
*Collaborative co-planning with Mid-America Nazarene University's Department of Education to host a regional Educators Rising Conference
*Presentations at the Regional Educators Rising Conference and the Greenbush Technology Conferences for Teachers
*STEM virtual teaching alliance with Manhattan, Spring Hill, and other school districts
*Preparations for competing and presenting at the National Educators Rising Conference to be held in Orlando, Florida in June 2018
Please watch our twitter feed this fall www.twitter.com/wevegotclass to follow our progress as we embark on these and other exciting adventures!
COMPARATIVE advantage: I need to make sure I can offer my product or services at a lesser price but uphold the quality of what I am offering.
DIFFERENTIAL advantage: I need to make sure that the quality of what I am providing outweighs that of the competition.
Primary to both of these factors, I would think, would be sustainability. I would have to find a way to uphold quality while remaining affordable in a changing economy. Even if I would interchange parts or find other manufacturing shortcuts, I could not sacrifice the integrity of my work!
Tuesday, July 18, 2017
(Image: https://pixabay.com/en/lotto-lottery-ticket-bill-profit-484801/) for the proverbial time on the couch to catch a movie, I see themes and actions that I can bring into my classroom of life in some way.
I was recently in conversation with other professionals who were in fields other than teaching, and the subject of winning the lottery came up. A couple of them said that they would not show up for work the next day. One said that he would be able to retire early. Then, they turned to me and asked what I would do, and my comments were the same that I said to my students when they once asked me the same question. My students had asked me if I would even show up for work if I won the lottery. I responded, "You know what? I would still be here with all of you, but there would not be a KIA in the parking lot." You see, I'm in a profession that I love. I have already won the lottery.
Friday, July 14, 2017
That, in a nutshell, describes effectual thinking for me. I found it interesting to read Sara Sarasvathy's views on decision making:
- Type 1-Causal-choosing means to create an effect
- Type 2-Effectual-having a set of means and looking toward all of the possibilities
the resources collected are determined by the aspects of the goal as envisioned. Effectual thinking looks more at what students already have and what they know about themselves in order to guide them to thinking of possibilities. This is a very iterative approach to decision making, and it is very difficult for many of us who have forever found ourselves trying to prepare for a goal in the future...we feel safer that way...we know where we are going...but do we really?
Effectual thinking, as one entrepreneur in Sarasvathy's writings put it, is like selling a product before it is actually built. In this new era of entrepreneurship, this type of thinking seems to focus on a more random approach to solving a problem and depends heavily on creating networks around the entrepreneur that end up giving direction...possibly in a different way than originally thought. It is highly dependent on a more empathetic approach to problem solving, and it considers "affordable loss" or using minimal resources to develop something to market. The "sell before you make" reminded me once again of the story of Jim Poss who sold solar-powered trash bins even before production just by appealing to the needs of those he thought might need it most.
Instead of traditional market research that we usually emphasize with students, the marketing research would be more of a hands-on approach to development. Also, getting buy in early would eliminate some of the uncertainty of going further with an idea.
The founder of U-Haul developed the company from basically nothing. Even with limited resources, the founder was able to gradually build from within, taking successes and pitfalls along the way as clues for further direction and building.
In my own world, I have been looking at entrepreneurship as a causal form of creation: create a product that I would want and see if others like it...with an effectual approach, I could use the people around me to help me develop my ideas and dreams. I always thought I had to have capital ready to go if I ever wanted to create something...now I know that entrepreneurial thinking does not really follow that pattern. I need to work on my network and listen to those around me!
Thursday, July 13, 2017
I can see the concept of design thinking working well in an educational environment as well...most teachers are in the profession because they are passionate about helping others achieve their goals. The empathy factor is already there, and the craft would be to take what is learned about student needs and focusing on the technologies available and finding ways to help them to be successful. I think it is fascinating to find how these principles applied to the business world have a place in developing authenticity in curriculum for students.
An entrepreneurial example that follows the Timmons Framework of entrepreneur--opportuntiy--resources--is that of the experiences of Jim Poss. As a person, Jim Poss was creative, inquisitive, and passionate about causes even from a young age. He was a true entrepreneur in the modern sense of the word...looking at what he could create from what already exists in his repertoire.
When searching for ways to revise or change his ideas, he was constantly considering the culture around him as the basis for what he would do next. When he had the idea of creating a solar-powered trash compactor, he knew that in order to make it (image: allthingsweb.co.uk)
a go, he had to find a way to make it profitable for the businesses
to use. Although he traveled through a series of experiences and business ventures over the years, he kept coming back to the idea of helping the environment about which he was passionate. Through many iterations, he managed to bring his idea to fruition by using his entrepreneurial skills:
Solving a Problem
Seeing failure as a step toward progress
Keeping his ideas, products, and supporters flexible for change
Before he even had a product created, he sold the "concept," of what he wanted to do. He found a way to develop to the customer's needs in every way possible. He kept his idea alive for a solar-powered trash compactor and put himself into many situations in order to make his idea work, not allowing the doubts of others to interfere with his goals:
- He found a way to afford a patent
- He went back to past colleagues as investors once he had established himself to earn their trust and their respect,
- He found the necessary niche by reaching out to ski resorts in Vail amid protests against environmental destruction in terms of building and expansion
- He rebuilt his product based on the suggestions of his initial customers (working in a 2-bag removal process instead of a 1-bag removal process
- He watched the market to make sure that components pricing would not weigh heavy on profits (when steel costs increased, lessening the number of steel components)
- He worked out a leasing agreement to alleviate high initial costs allowing more customers
- He proved his product before he worked toward heavy-hitter investors
I enjoyed reading about Jim Poss. I'm afraid that at this point in my life, it would be difficult for me to go through many of the steps that he did and keep true to my goal and not allow the doubts of others affect me decision making.
When working with my students and guiding them through the design process on projects, this story will provide some great modeling for them as an example of how to truly be an entrepreneur. At every stage, he managed to turn what could have been a roadblock into an opportunity to go another direction but still work toward his goal.
I respect the bulleted items listed above as models of a true iterative process. Jim Poss was truly an entrepreneur when compared to the characteristics state previously. As he saw opportunity, he used it to assess what he had to complete the next step and truly allowed himself to look at the big picture in tackling a problem to solve pertaining to something about which he was very passionate.
Recently, I was talking to the creators of a product to be used in classrooms with students. After
(image: www.linkedin.com) reading some on the New Venture Creation model, I surprised myself when I questioned them about their discovery process...asking about how they did their market research and to what extent. I was surprised to find that they had created their product and then took it to others to see if it would be something usable. This seemed backwards to me after studying the modern concepts of entrepreneurism.
This Fall, I will be working with Real World Scholars (www.realworldscholars.org) to help my students build a business that will offer a service or product for those in the field of education. What I have learned about the entrepreneurial process thus far should help me in working with my students as they go through the very important discovery phase of developing their business. I am excited for sure!
Design is considered as a sort of flow chart of steps in development and creation. The process is flexible and is very interactive.
(image: leanproduction.com) This process calls for certain parts of the
process: 1) a design that allows for fast and easy variations and changes during and after development, 2) a method of disseminating information, using technology, to all parties involved in the iteration, 3) partners in the process who also support the rapid iterations along the way after reflection and testing, and 4) a culture or team of other developers or team members who also buy in to the iterative process for design.
As one of the initial teachers and curriculum developers for CAPS, we used such a rapid prototyping method for developing the authentic and flexible curriculum in our programs. The design of our curriculum, while established within the confines of objectives and standards, remains flexible and follows the trends of business practices surrounding us. By incorporating our website and other services and through our virtual network, we are able to communicate with others to coordinate concepts that truly reflect the culture of productivity and entrepreneurship which we promote with our students.
In seeking out partners to assist with our curriculum development, we looked to industry leaders and higher education programs which support our goal of creating programs that change with industry and push our students' limits to catapult them into an environment much like those modeled by local and national businesses and higher education preparatory concepts.
The exciting part of all of this is that my curriculum changes every year. By working with those outside entities, we are able, while keeping with our basic curriculum objectives and goals, to re-fashion our activities, assignments, and experiences for our students into real-world opportunities.
As I discussed topics with my colleagues at the event, I realized how lucky I have been to be placed before the opportunities presented to me to learn, to innovate, to create, and I had to think about how effective professional development could truly be if more teachers had the chance to congregate and percolate ideas for change.
In the Fall, I am hoping to partner with the Real World Scholars organization in order to start a business in my classroom with my students. I am looking forward to the guidance of RWS to teach my students the skills of being entrepreneurial decision makers for themselves and for their future students and colleagues.
Tuesday, July 4, 2017
The CAPS Teacher Education National Presentation team of Megan Andrievk, Breanna Clark, Savannah Gorman, and Kate Stalcup flew from Kansas City to Phoenix, AZ on June 23 to attend the National Educators Rising Conference there. Accompanied by instructor Tammy Fry and co-chaperone Susan Schuckman, enrichment teacher at Blue Valley's Timber Creek Elementary School, they excitedly and confidently embarked on an adventure! Upon arriving on a hot, 110+ degree day, they organized their thoughts and prepared for the week's activities. Armed with their Microsoft Surfaces, they quickly connected to WiFi and began to put the finishing touches on their presentation The Young and the Techless: The Daily Drama of the Digital Divide and to make final preparations for their competitions: Megan-Interview and Non-Core Subject Teaching Careers, Breanna and Savannah-Impromptu Speaking, and the team of Kate and Savannah-Researching Learning Challenges.
Megan placed 8th in the National Top 10 in Interviewing! We are so proud of all of our team as they competed against students from other states, most of whom had already been through local, regional, and state competitions before competing nationally.
Asked to present two concurrent sessions, our team presented on Saturday and on Monday. Both times, they embarked on a new adventure as they presented from Ms. Fry's phone! With the help of an external speaker, they produced a powerful multi-media presentation on equity in the classroom and educational technology tools for teachers and students.
We were fortunate to have one of our Kansas state supporters at the conference. Idalia Shuman, Kansas State Director of Teaching and Learning, was there to support us and cheer us on. We also found time to connect with another Kansas group from Gardner High School who also came to the conference to present, network, and learn. In addition, we were able to network with others from the CAPS Nationwide Network, from Washington, MO and from Bentonville, AR.
In addition to presenting and competing, we were able to participate in some interesting and memorable UBER adventures, eat some great food, make some great friends, and learn to handle the heat (literally) when power went down one afternoon at the Convention Center and the hotel. We also heard inspirational talks from recognized, successful educators as they spoke from their hearts about the status of students, teachers, and education in general, and we spent a fun night on the campus of Arizona State University and another in the town of Scottsdale, AZ.
All in all, we had a great bonding trip and had the chance to network with some other great practicing teachers and future teachers. We will miss our seniors Megan and Savannah but know that they will continue their Educators Rising legacies at Kansas State and at Johnson County Community College and also continue to work with us at CAPS as we welcome our returning group and our new students in our program. We also look to Breanna and Kate to provide continuing leadership for us all! There are already plans being made for next year's national conference which will be held in Orlando, FL, at Disney.
As the team returned to the CAPS facility on the night of June 27, tired from the week's activities, they realized that what they had just experienced would be a life-changing memory forever. Though we all now go somewhat our separate ways, we will always hold in common our goals and experiences from the 2017 National Educators Rising Conference in Phoenix.
Thanks, team, for making this conference one to remember! And, thank you for representing your CAPS colleagues in a most professional and positive way!