Nuance: Michael Fullan and Getting that Blogging Groove Back

I’ve recently come across a quote from Swiss philanthropist Ernesto Bertarelli, which reads:
“You can't change who you are, but you can change what you have in your head; you can refresh what you’re thinking about, you can put some fresh air in your brain.” 

I love that imagery. I am certainly grateful that I’ve had some time to get some fresh air in my brain, which is how one comes across quotes from Swiss philanthropists, I suppose. Disconnecting with our professional lives and reconnecting with friends and family over the summer is a necessity for our ability to serve our students. The significance of taking time to ensure our own renewal cannot be overstated. 

That kind of renewal is what I've been looking for, specifically as it relates to blogging. For over a year, I've tried to get back into it. I've got a few dozen starts and stops in my drafts folder. However, I haven't been able to put anything together that I felt is worth putting out into the universe. Don't know why.

I think I’ve needed some fresh air in my brain. Perhaps more specifically, I think I’ve needed some new influences to spark my passion for writing and reflection. Our leadership team is currently reading Michael Fullan’s “Nuance,” so I thought this might be a good opportunity to reflect on the opening chapters of the book and get off the blogging schneid

Here’s the opening line of the book: “This book has two purposes: One is to make the case that society is worsening and that education is less effective at its main role of producing better citizens.” 

Quite the pep talk, Dr. Fullan! 

That bit of educational buzzkill notwithstanding, Fullan sets us up for his second (hopefully less soul crushing) purpose: “ identify the characteristics of the new kind of leader who will be required - one who can get beneath the surface and help us to understand and leverage deep change for the better.” 

That’s a little more of what I had in mind. Fullan has always been interested in deep, lasting system change, and this book seems to articulate the type of leader he sees as being able to bring that about. Specifically, something that he wrote struck me as we have started to work on our ambitious Strategic Plan: “The challenge now is how leaders become clearer as complexity increases.” This has always been something I’ve struggled with, particularly working in a large, complex school system. How do we develop and communicate a lasting vision, get people to see the big picture (and more importantly, their role in it!), and move in a similar direction to  enact that vision? How do you sustain that over the span of years? 

It’s a mind scramble. 

As I’m reading, I’m getting more and more excited about the direction Fullan is going. He’s talking about the types of system change that we have endeavored to begin here in District 127: developing global citizens with strong practical skills and deep knowledge, as well as moving toward equitable outcomes for all our students. 

Another quote that grabbed my attention: “Leaders don’t become more clear by becoming more direct or louder in their messages. Nuance is the answer.” As a natural introvert, I breathe a sigh of relief, and look forward to where Fullan is taking me. 

More to come.