25 March 2012

ASCD 2012: Ride for the Brand

This post is my 1600th to this blog. It's a milestone that I thought I would reach long ago, but I've been plugging along the last few years as other demands in my life have taken over. There's been a lot of change in this space over the past 7+ years, and I am always grateful for the way this corner of the Internet gives me a reason to pause, reflect, and reassess.

Atul Gawande was the keynote speaker this morning at the ASCD annual conference. Gawande is a storyteller...a man who follows his own questions and curiosities (e.g. How do we get good at what we do?). While I collected plenty of sound bites of wisdom in my notes throughout his talk, there was one idea in particular that I found myself thinking about afterward.

You see, I've been pondering how to "ride for the brand" recently. If you're not familiar with the phrase, it's a cowboy term that refers to your loyalty and commitment to the ranch/organization. When you sign on to work a ranch, you ride for that brand. Your actions should align with the goals and ideals of the outfit. To ride for the brand is about integrity.

Gawande used an analogy of Cowboys and Pit Crews to illustrate the type of values required in a school or other organization to be successful: communication, discipline, and teamwork. If he really knew anything about cowboys, he would have used "Lone Ranger vs. Cowboys" as his analogy, but I'll forgive him for the stretch because it doesn't change the values he details. 

As an educator, do you ride for the brand? How many of us even know what the "brand" is for our schools and districts (and agencies)? I have no doubt that we each have our personal brand---the reason we get up and teach every morning. Does that make us Lone Rangers? What happens when our views don't align with one another, let alone the organizations we represent? If, as Gawande suggests, it is the smallest of adjustments that bring us closest to success, then how do we get there when we even haven't taken the biggest step to identify why we're on this ride.

And so, on the occasion of this 1600th post, I want to thank the readers who ride for What It's Like on the Inside. Whether you stop by and lurk, skim posts in your RSS aggregator, comment or add a link to your own blog, or think and pass along the ideas, I salute your discipline in continuing your learning, your efforts to communicate ideas, and the kind of teamwork that exists only in a web 2.0 world as we connect across time and space. I wish you much success as you ride for your brand, wherever that may be.


Hugh O'Donnell said...

Just before tuning in to this post, I was reflecting about teacher unions and wondering about how our local lost their way with regard to professionalism.

Ironically, ASCD began with the NEA. Yup, the big national teacher union cared about professional development. Check out the front matter for the October, 1943 issue (the first in the ASCD archives)... http://www.ascd.org/ASCD/pdf/journals/ed_lead/el_194310_front-matter.pdf .

You might have to log in, but do check it out.

Today, our local is all about job protection -- a worthy goal, but not at the expense of trying to block educational progress, and not riding for the District brand in terms of providing encouragement for members to learn from EL, the former PD publication of that grand-daddy teacher union, the NEA.

I'm thinking Black Hats vs. White Hats here. And who's riding for the brand in my school district?

BTW, I was surprised to find out about the origins of ASCD when I was reviewing EL history a while ago.

The Science Goddess said...

I didn't know about ASCD's origins, either. But last year, I did ask them about their name change. You might have noticed that they're now just "ASCD," which no longer represents the "Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development." They told me that they felt like their organization was much broader and deeper than those original ideas. It didn't represent their growth over the years. So, instead of renaming themselves (as NSDC foolishly chose to do...in my opinion), they just kept the "call letters."

Seems a shame that the unions aren't willing to evolve, too.