Monday, December 30, 2013

Passion Driven Classroom Book Review - Or Is It "Ideas to Apply KM in your org"

In 2011, Angela Maiers and Amy Sandvold published “The Passion Driven Classroom”. I immediately heard great things and 2 years later I had the opportunity to read it – what a great book.

Personally, I’m passionate about knowledge management (KM), and I’m also passionate about the education system. This book blends both. I had assumed that Angela was “in” the KM world, but after some simple google searches, it appears she comes straight from the education world. Its fascinating to me that she talks about KM and applies it to the education system, and yet I’m not sure she even realizes it? Awesome [to see worlds combine]!

The book starts out talking about “passion”. Again, like KM, it feels like she’s fighting battles about “please believe me, this is important and it’s a better way”. I think we often fight a similar battle in KM, and I’m not sure the battle even exists, I think we self-create it?

The first chapter describes passion, the second chapter defines it. In the third chapter, she starts to apply it. She calls it “clubhouse learning”. She re-names the teacher the Chief Learning Officer (CLO) – again, sounds like KM - She talks about how the workshop classroom is driven by curiosity; the role of the teacher is expert learner and passion practitioner. Amazing.

Here’s where it gets great. The first tactical example is to create a “Resident Expert” wall. A list of your students and what they do well. KM would call this the beginnings of an expertise location system – ie an employee profile.

Then it gets better, chapter 4 gets into the “learning essentials”. They are “learning clubs”, “opening message / daily boardroom”, “reflection” , “task board” and “good fit tools and technology”. From a KM perspective, Learning clubs are Communities of Practice (CoP) within the classroom. The opening message / daily boardroom is a beautiful implementation of a fundamental “work out loud” culture (i.e. what are the plans for the day, what did we accomplish yesterday, what do we need to accomplish today, etc.). Reflection is an After Action Review and Retrospect. The Task Board shows who’s in what CoP and who’s working on what. The good fit tools and technology is exactly what it sounds like (i.e. be open to technology and find the best tools to help you do what you need to do). What a beautiful way to answer the key KM questions of “who knows who”, “who knows what”, “who does what”.

She then shares her “HEART” model, which is an acronym for Hold On (study the book cover and guess what it might be about – or in KM, study the project charter and predict how the org will respond), Eyes and Ears (look for connections, patterns, etc – just like KM!), Ask Questions, React/Reflect, Tell and Show. Again, this sounds almost identical to the work-out-loud models and cultures we’re looking to build.

Oh, I almost forgot the final essential for Learning Clubs and that’s “Celebration”. We often talk about celebration in project management (PM), and personally, we like to apply that PM technique to our KM efforts as well. She even gives some very tactical examples of how to celebrate (i.e. “silent cheer”, “hearty handshake”, “round of applause”, etc.)

The book then moves even deeper in to how to setup the classroom as a Learning Club. She talks about “Thinkbooks” where each student has a profile, answers key questions, keeps notes, etc. She breaks down the boardroom meeting, giving specific examples of questions to ask. She talks about “heart maps” as a specific way to help students write words (or pictures) in a hand-drawn heart. Those words help each students and their fellow students understand each other’s passions (sounds like an employee profile as part of an expertise location system, yes?).

Deeper and deeper she goes in Chapter 6, now giving a specific minute by minute agenda for each day. She talks about time segments for “passion discovery”, “learning is thinking” and “practicing our passion”. This reminds me of one of all time favorite KM processes known as “Knowledge Continuity”. She seems to pre-define the 5 most important CoPs (clubs) that each classroom should have. I suppose that would be like pre-defining the first 5 CoPs to start at your organization, which is maybe the only piece of the book that pure KM’ers would probably debate (saying its probably better to follow the bottom-up, grass roots approach of simply enhancing the communities that already exist in the org).

She closes by saying that readers of the book should join #edchat on twitter (twice a day every Tuesday).

I found it fascinating that she basically dove into a KM plan for an organization, and yet she wasn’t thinking about that at all, she was thinking about how to structure a classroom. From the KM perspective, we’d probably translate her words into define CoPs, understand yourself and others, work out loud and follow your passions (and leverage a little technology in there too). Fascinating. I’m excited to see these approaches (and words) coming out in education and in organizations.

Well worth a read and let's apply these ideas in our classrooms, our schools, our education systems and our organizations!