Re-wiring the IT department: part 4: the invitation

Wednesday, our first day back after the winter break I announced the new direction for educational technologies and IT at our first full faculty meeting of the calendar year.

The school has undergone a number of significant changes over the past two years, including a new head, so everyone here is a little gun-shy of new ideas, however good and promising the changes may be. So, I wanted to make my announcement an invitation to the whole school to help create the change instead of handing them a directive.

We typically set up whole faculty meetings in the school’s theatre, which is a rather nice, except that the usual set up is to have the presenter (me, in this case) on stage and faculty and staff in the audience. That’s a stiff, one-directional and stale format. Instead, I pulled all the chairs onto the stage, arranged them in a big circle, lit the stage with soft lights and closed the curtains. This created an more intimate, convivial space and let everyone know we are trying something different. At the very least, a colleague said, it took people out of their default settings.

The meeting was brief–I was just pointing to the direction we’re heading–and ended with an explicit call to action. I handed out a pledge form Ewan McIntosh showed me when I met him at BLC 11 in Boston:


About a quarter came back before the meeting closed and they’re still coming in in the days after. I’m delighted and excited to see my colleagues jump on this. They’ve come up with fantastic ways to challenge themselves and their teaching practice, from experimenting with Facebook for class pages to dipping into the Twitterverse for the fist time. 

We’ll see how the pledges play out in the months ahead, but I’ve already seen more willing action from this invitation than I’ve seen from any directive.

(To make sure I come through with my promise to email everyone down the road, I shot pictures of each pledge on my iPhone, attached them to an email and scheduled the posting using Boomerang. all done the same day the pledges came in.) 


One Comment

  1. Reply
    Jeremy Angoff January 7, 2012

    Brad,It’s uncanny that you came up with this idea and blogged about it just now. I often go trail running to help myself solve problems or come up with new ideas. This morning on my run I came up with a similar idea of a contract: I pledge to my teachers and staff that I will help them with technology, however, I can’t help them if they don’t come to me for help. A relationship of this type requires both parties to be involved; I can’t do it by myself. When I am contracted by a school, we sign a contract and we ask them to do the same. This morning on my run, the idea occurred to me to ask teachers to sign a contract with me. After my run, I backed down off the idea, thinking it might not come off right. After reading your blog post, however, the value of the idea seems clear as day.Thank you for the nudge. I’ll report back on my own experience when I attempt it.Jeremy ( @mytakeonit )

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