Tuesday, April 01, 2008

A Retreat in Retrospect: How to move your school forward

It has been over a week since I blogged about our planned administration retreat/workshop here in Doha for Qatar Academy. You can imagine how exhausted we all felt afterwards.....and then we had relatives visit from Australia over the weekend.....so here at last is a brief report and some links to material.

Well, as usual pretty much everything we prepared for the retreat is available online. So I share this with you, the reader of this blog, one approach to moving your school forward and starting conversations that will likely continue for months.

You can explore the E-Learning wiki and the E-Learning for Life Retreat page to see how we structured this event.

First of all we asked participants to view some material, video and written, so that everyone was on the same page prior to the event. The Did You Know video (Scott McLeod and Karl Fisch) is essential viewing but you do not necessarily need to spend 8 minutes as a group watching this. I also wanted everyone to have watched the video I prepared for the Board of Governors in November to understand why we had special project money approved. I also added pertinent resources to review, including works by Jeff Utecht, Kim Cofino, Scott McLeod, David Warlick......and just for good measure, a blog post written by me 12 months ago about my day. The latter was thrown in to try and raise awareness of what it means to be a global and connected educator these days......I am not sure that people read this....if they did there were no questions or comments.

During the actual get together we remained focussed on providing information while at the same time allowing time for discussion. I was pleasantly surprised at the level of debate and interaction. I was also not surprised at the tendency to come around to the topic of infrastructural issues, such as IT Support (and lack there of) at QA.
Needless to say we talked and discussed issues as per the agenda on the wiki and worked hard for a few hours. The E-Learning for Life team (Mike, Sam and Beverley) contributed amazing insight to what it means to move the school forward. We had planned too much material for the actual meetingg time and despite not finishing until way after 9pm, after a 4.30 start, we still had not really reached any major decisions.

This ongoing lack of final decision making is a concern to me, as someone who tends to lack patience with procedure. However I am learning that there are processes and protocols and that decisions, no matter how much we want them to be made in our favor, are not always made quickly and not always in total agreement with the initial proposal.

So, we continue to develop our plans, refine our goals and objectives, and discuss what the next step is. I have a 3-year Strategic plan, I have an Action plan, I have a large budget to spend, but without a confirmed agreement that this is what we all want for the school. Since the retreat we are hovering over what could be an inspirational move, waiting for reassurance from each other that this is the right thing to do for 21st century learning incorporating mobile computing and online learning.

View the retreat wiki.
Stay tuned for the next installment!

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