EFF10, Michael Fullan, and Me
If you know me, you know that I enjoy fishing out where the fish don’t bite, so apologies for this unusual recap to my participation in the 10th EFF Debate. While I didn’t get to travel to Japan, I did get to travel to lovely Norwalk, Connecticut. And there’s nothing like being locked in a room with Michael Fullan, Canadian education researcher and former dean of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. Fullan is also a highly respected education reform presenter. I like him, because he’s an advocate for teachers, and treats them with respect. Read some of his stuff and you’ll see what I mean. It was a perfect time for us to meet—Michael Fullan and me—as TALIS results fueled the EFF10 debate.
So, what are the chances?
If you told me, that at any time in my education-career life, I’d have a chance to be part of as positive a global movement for education change and action as Education Fast Forward, as well as tag along with some of the greatest education thinkers of this century, I’d say you were daft. But for some, inexplicable reason, I’m there, and you can be there, too. That’s the simple beauty of it. Now, don’t get me wrong, my role is really no more than an interested global education Twitter follower, and occasional Twitter participant, but that’s the key word—participant. So pardon me now for playing up the fact that at Education Fast Forward, EFF10 Debate, I sat next to Michael Fullan. Yes, that Michael Fullan—the education-change guru and me, in the same room. He talked TALIS 2013 results, teaching, collaboration, leadership, and decision-making, and I listened and tweeted. He seemed to be doing OK without my help. Today it’s normal to participate and make a difference—one tweet at a time, so that’s what I did. So, there we were, Michael Fullan and me, truly locked in a small room with Cisco Telepresence, and debating with the world in our own ways. Michael was brilliant, and I tried to look that way, while I stayed out of his way. I hung on every debate word, and every tweet posted. What are the chances?
In the EFF Debates the odds favor anyone, who wants to take part, and EFF10 was a further example. As I followed the lively Twitter feeds, and listened to Michael Fullan saying things to the open microphone, I nodded my head in agreement—a lot—it was admittedly a bit surreal. And when the mic was muted, even more so, as I attempted to share some thoughts with Michael, who politely listened and nodded with patience. Throughout the debate Fullan jotted notes, none of which were prompted by my comments I’m sure, and each time he spoke, he seemed to say things we all needed to hear—and say it in such a straightforward and natural way, that even if you might disagree, you had to admit you were hearing a new and valid point. If note taking does that, I must do more of it. Oh heck, I need to start! I do have to say that a few personal highlights for me happened when we laughed, or quietly grunted agreement, in unison, to something said by the other participants. I consider grunting and laughing, in unison, amongst my best collaborative skills. Maybe Michael noted that.
Collaboration was one of the essential questions kindled by the 2013 TALIS survey of teachers by the OECD. “What does collaboration look like?” It seems, according to TALIS results, that in-depth collaboration between school leaders and teachers, both interpersonal and in professional development helps a school climate positively change. Working together and distributing the decision-making roles throughout a school or district just makes sense. It works. But in order to do that, educators need to be provided a time to meet and collaborate. We’ve known that for ages, but it’s nice to have more back-up. The definition of collaboration could be an entire debate topic. If it is, I hope to participate.
Maybe next time they’ll lock someone else in a Cisco Telepresence room with me—or not. Michael, if it happens to be you, again, I promise to have more comments to share that will most likely be just as useless for your next book, but it would be a pleasure to meet up again for EFF11, Michael Fullan, and Me. If not, participating from anywhere, and from any device makes Education Fast Forward, EFF Debates the most accessible of all the education gatherings I’ve attended. I may not be in the same room, but my laptop can make it seem that way. Michael, just look for my tweets! Chances are good we’ll virtually meet again. Next stop, EFF11!
About the Author:
Ken Royal is an educator with 34 years of classroom/school and instructional technology experience, as well as a blogger on all things education technology. Teaching accomplishments include: 4-time district teacher of the year, Connecticut Middle School Teacher of the Year, as well as Bill and Melinda Gates award for Technology School of Excellence. He is a Promethean storyteller. Follow @KenRoyal on Twitter.