Deliberate Practice … key to getting better
Three new books this month on getting better. Each of these mini-reviews adds meaning to our theme of deliberate practice and communities of practice.
Communities of Practice work.
A community of practice is a group of people who share an interest in getting better. The concept, from Lave and Wenger, includes a shared:
- Domain: An focused area of interest
- Community: Ongoing learning discussions
- Practices: Knowledge, tools and processes
Basically, you pick a focus, create a community of learners, and keep practicing to get better. Practice alone does not make perfect. Deliberate practice – a focus on working through obstacles – improves practice.
Companion blogs this month tell how deliberate practice improves:
- Federal Way School Board focus
- Seattle Schools Racial Equity Teams
- MTSS School Improvement Teams in Seattle
Community of Practice Examples
- PLCs are the best examples for educators. When a team of teachers works together to define outcomes, find good strategies and learn from evidence they improve student outcomes and become better teachers. They improve their “practice.” Hattie calls this cluster of skills, collective efficacy, and says the effect size is one of the best.
- PLNs are Principal Improvement Networks. Principals operating in a similar fashion. Setting an improvement goal or Problem of Practice. Applying good strategies; a theory of action. Measuring process improvement as well as outcomes. Learning from experience. And doing this in a network of principal colleagues that offer suggestions as they share their work.
- Network Improvement Committees have been popularized by Carnegie and Gates. Here, a district or a cluster of districts, works on a common problem. California CORE, for example, worked together on improving SEL.
Three new books – insights on improved practice
Seth Godin has made a career out “shipping creative work.” His is a wonder at capturing the essence of key ideas and packaging them up in short, quick easy to read books (Linchpin, The Dip). The Practice is a collection of 200+ ideas to keep you focused on improving your practice and shipping creative work. Set a focus. Figure out a minimum viable audience. Set deadlines. Deliberately practice at getting better. Learn from failures. Measure process not just the outcome. Ship on schedule … you learn more by pushing the envelope.
The Art of Impossible: A Peak Performance Primer by Steven Kottler
Steven Kotler is a journalist who follows world class athletes in extreme sports where, he says, they keep making the impossible possible. The formula for these world class performers:
- Pick a challenge that matters to you
- Grow your expertise
- Tap into creativity
- Go for Flow … keep getting better
An entertaining read with an interesting mix of great stories and lots of brain science.
Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know by Adam Grant
Progress requires change. Change requires new ways of thinking. We do that best when we think like a scientist. Unfortunately, he says, we typically trying preaching (offense); prosecuting (defense) or politics (persuasion). He suggests:
- Sharing your weak points and admitting the strong points of others actually increases credibility
- We are most confident (and dangerous) when we know little; seek out what you don’t know
- We will make mistakes … learn from them.
- “The more reasons we put on the table, the easier it is for people to discard the shakiest one.”
Engage in back and forth conversation. Keep asking questions like, What else might work better? Keep looking for a broader range of options that will work.
Communities of Practice
Here are a few of their ideas … in the communities of practice framework
|Communities of Practice|
|Domain||Find your focus and stay with it||Pick a challenge that matters to you||Seek out answers to what we do not know|
|Community||Create a community Know your audience||Grow your expertise||Conversation = give and take|
|Practice||Process over output|
|Go for creativity and flow||Be the scientist|
Learn from mistakes
Communities of practice improve practice which eventually improves outcomes. Find your focus (domain). Gather a team (community). Develop tools (practices) for learning. Repeat over time. You will DO better and BECOME better.
The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups – Daniel Coyle
Communities of Practice – by Scaled Agile
Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation – by Lave and Wenger