Friday, October 23, 2015

Are you a self thinker or a system thinker?

I am incredibly fortunate to be surrounded by people who care very deeply about what they do -- whether in their personal or professional lives.

Last week, during one of the many meetings I get to be a part of, one of our Instructional Coaches Sherrie Collins asked the question "Are you a self-thinker or a system-thinker?"

I've really been pondering that question.  The answers to this question have deep implications -- no matter which way we answer.  

On Oct. 29, 2015, our entire Benton Community School District certified staff participated in learning with Monticello Community School District, supported by Grant Wood AEA.  The purpose of this learning day was focusing on student learning within our classrooms, utilizing formative assessment, specifically common formative assessments (CFA).   This process requires collaborating on number two of the four critical questions:

  1. What is it we want all students to know?
  2. How do we know if they know it?
  3. What do we do if they don't?
  4. What do we do if they do?

Our superintendent, Gary Zittergruen, captured the pictures below of staff's working together.

We continually work on all four questions, but our CFA work helps us focus on question two.  How are we sure our students can demonstrate their learning of our districts priority standards and learning targets?  The work that happened on Monday reflects a "system thinker" mentality.  Our staff know our student learning experiences are better when we work together to create and plan for these student learning experiences.

The picture below represents both being a "self-thinker" and a "system-thinker".  The overall image portrayed in this picture connects my mind and emotions to how thankful I am I have people supporting me and guiding me to be better tomorrow than I am today.  I am thankful I have "system thinkers" around me on a daily basis -- but I also appreciate when I can have some time to myself and be a "self-thinker" -- just like the bird that decided to photobomb my picture -- he's there -- see if you can find him!

This statue is located in front of Veterans Memorial Auditorium, Iowa Events Center in downtown Des Moines. It is entitled, "A Veterans Prayer for Eternal Peace".

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