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Connective Leadership

There are over 20,000 books on leadership and endless research studies.  The field of educational leadership (like that in the business world) has shifted away from an exclusive focus on top-down decision making by “the leader” such as the principal or superintendent of schools, toward a more flattened, distributed model within an organization.  Communication and collaborative problem solving have become more decentralized.  This shift requires more engaged thinking by “connecting” everyone in the organization.  Many of the documents below explore and demonstrate how Thinking Maps have been used to support everyone in the learning community in making connections, visually showing their ideas in patterns of thinking, and negotiating the decision making process.  There are chapters and videos below that also show how professional development, coaching, mentoring, and leadership training work across whole schools as students are using the same tools.

Developing Connective Leadership
Larry Alper, Kimberly Wiliams, David Hyerle, authors, Solution Tree Press. 2012

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In all of the case studies woven throughout this book, we will be hearing from school leaders and visiting schools where Thinking Maps have animated the idea of leading connectively. After giving an introduction to Thinking Maps in chapter 1, we will contextualize this language for leading and learning within a new array of leadership theories and practices in chapter 2. Then we turn to how these themes emerge from the layers of human connection we all feel within the process of leading and thinking: from personal re ectiveness (chapter 3), to interpersonal interactions and coaching (chapter 4), to group dynamics (chapter 5), to schoolwide change processes (chapter 6), and, nally, to transformative processes at the school-system level (chapter 7). The epilogue will bring us back to the act of leading thinkers: engaging our capacity to connect the dots within ourselves and see more clearly the power of the collaborative drawing out of meaningful, connective thinking in maps.

How do we use Thinking Maps for coaching leaders?  View this video of Robert Price coaching National Urban Alliance CEO Dr. Yvette Jackson as she "thinks through" the facilitation of NUA consultants and leadership teams at an upcoming institute.  Both Robert and Yvette are fluent with Thinking Maps and use them interactively to gain clarity and new insights.

Student Successes With Thinking Maps®
David Hyerle and Larry Alper coeditors Corwin Press, Second Edition, January 2011, Thousand Oaks, California

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Chapter 16: Transforming Professional Development: Inviting Explicit Thinking
Sarah Curtis, M.Ed.

“I was teaching a lesson in social studies and I must have asked a question every conceivable way I could think of. Nobody participated. So I drew a Multi-flow Map on the board and got where I wanted to go! Thinking Maps not only seized the teachable moment, they created the teachable moment.” - Teacher

Ultimately, I came to see that these deeper levels of reflection and performance changes developed because the thinking maps invite explicit thinking and thus reflection, bringing a clarity that inspires confidence and competence.

Here is a unique opportunity to hear multiple perspectives within a leadership team discuss the evolution of their school from low to high performing ELL students in Long Beach California.  Thinking Maps were used at every grade level for language development, differentiation, and formative assessment.  This video also reveals the central importance of leadership in school change.

Developing Connective Leadership
Larry Alper, Kimberly Wiliams, David Hyerle, authors, Solution Tree Press. 2012

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Chapter 6: Schoolwide Thinking

In the integration of several different stories in this chapter, we see that transforming a whole school is possible when a language for surfacing thinking becomes the connective tissue between and among people, some of whom don’t work directly with each other or even across the hall on a day-to-day basis. We can also begin to hear and see how educators who use the maps for their own personal-professional problem solving—in coaching and one-to-one contexts, or even in small-group meetings—are engaged at a new level after seeing Thinking Maps used across a whole community of learners and leaders. They experience, in the practice of using Thinking Maps, that the whole is greater than the parts as we weave the patterns of thinking together to bring clarity to complex situations without making simple difficult choices or distorting ideas to immediate needs.

In these retellings, the themes of clarity, efficiency, collaboration, empowerment, and sustainability emerged, and respondents expressed them explicitly.

This rich interchange between panel members at a Thinking Maps conference reveals how school leaders see this language for learning and leadership working to transform whole schools over time.

Visual Tools for Transforming Information Into Knowledge

By David Hyerle, Corwin Press, Second Edition, 2009, Thousand Oaks, California

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Excerpt from Chapter 7: Thinking Maps

In the preceding two pieces by Stefanie Holzman and Sarah Curtis, the focus is primarily on shifting student performance and teachers’ instructional approach. The focus, in both cases, is also on content learning, language development, and the transfer of Thinking Maps across disciplines and conceptual work required in each content area.

In the final section of this chapter, Larry Alper, a former principal and lead author of Thinking Maps: A Language for Leadership, shows how these tools are used across a whole school to create and sustain a learning community. Larry, like many principals who have ushered Thinking Maps into their schools and guided their use have done so with hope, belief, and anticipation that the maps would directly improve students’ thinking and performance as well as elevate teacher performance to a higher order.

Educators envision classrooms where students are able to think about how they are thinking (metacognition) and be able to consciously choose strategies and tools that they need to use to solve problems, to comprehend, to write.  Listen to this leadership team, including the principal, from McKinley Elementary School in San Jose California as they evaluate how Thinking Maps have led the way for their population of ELL students.

Differentiation of Staff Development

McKinley Elementary School - YEAR 2 Case Study, Franklin McKinley School District, San Jose, California

According to the survey data, grade level collaboration improved within and across grade levels and facilitated focused staff meetings due to the common language that the Thinking Maps provide.

The New Teacher Survey data, clearly shows that the use of Thinking Maps® helped them to become active members of the McKinley Professional Learning Community. Also, administrative use of the Maps during staff meetings facilitated their involvement in staff and grade level decisions.

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Pathways to Thinking Schools
David Hyerle and Larry Alper coeditors. Corwin Press, Second Edition, April 2014

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Chapter 7: Systems

Donna J. DeSiato and Judy Morgan

As we confronted the brutal facts of student achievement, we recognized the need to clarify our goals, identify research-based effective practices to address the learning needs of our students—for the present and future—and to engage our stakeholders in the process. We also realized that we needed to implement these practices systemically. We began with three district goals to focus our work on student learning and achievement, as well as to measure our results:

Goal 1: Increase student achievement through high expectations supported by consistent, comprehensive focus on teaching and learning.

Goal 2: Increase student achievement by building capacity within the sys- tem to support and nurture a continuum of learning through the implemen- tation of research-based practices.

Goal 3: Increase student achievement by strengthening parent engagement and community partnerships to support learning.

St Roberts school in England was accredited as a Thinking School by Exeter University, UK.  This video shows one of the essential dimensions of their growth: using Thinking Maps to coach and facilitate new teachers in lesson planning, classroom observation, and post-lesson reflection.

Pathways to Thinking Schools
David Hyerle and Larry Alper coeditors. Corwin Press, Second Edition, April 2014

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Chapter 10: Leading

In this chapter, we look closely at how the definition, criteria, and intended outcomes of Thinking Schools explicitly convey that all members of the learning organization, whether teachers in classrooms with students, or teachers in working groups with or without administrators, are consciously practicing and improving their thinking through a range of approaches including the use of visual tools for cognitive and critical thinking, dispositions for mindfulness, and modes of questioning for enquiry. This vision also reflects the bully pulpit outcry from business and political leaders around the world: Schools must become places that are seen as the “training ground” for improving student thinking and learning in this century.

Listen in to this in depth dialogue with principal Ken McGuire and David Hyerle about how Ken uses Thinking Maps as essential tools for leadership, learning, and long term development of students, teachers, administrators.

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