Welcome to my ramblings!

Welcome to my Blog. Here you can find the ramblings of a old high school principal. I've created a number of blogs over the years for a variety of reasons. A large number of them I use with my staff which are password protected from the outside world. This blog is for my fellow educators and anyone else who wants to read the ramblings. I guess my target would be building administrators, future administrators, teachers and educators in general.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Podstock Observation

P.S. I haven't had time to get this proofread. I'm trying to work with another on the research. 

Before I start I want to remind everyone that my viewpoint does come from an administrator's angle. That said, I really enjoyed the sessions I attended. The presenters had tons of energy and the audience was quick to become involved in the action.

By the end of the first day I did have a thought running through my head that I actually sat down and visited with Mike Cook about on Saturday. I wondered about the presenters and most of the audience. What were their Kolbes? For those who don't know about Kolbe, it's a self survey that helps identify how a person problem-solves. It's broken down into four modes. 1) Fact Finder - the instinctive way we gather and share information (this person has a strong need for a lot of information). 2) Follow Thru - the instinctive way we arrange and design (this person needs to see the whole picture). 3) Quick Start - the instinctive way we deal with risk and uncertainty (this person tends to think outside the box). 4) Implementor - the instinctive way we handle space and tangibles (this person has the need to have physical contact). There's a lot more that goes with Kolbe including creating productive teams, learning how to work with individuals of other modes, etc. You can find more at http://www.kolbe.com. You can even take the Kolbe for a fee.

My goal here isn't to get people to take the Kolbe, but I do think it explains a lot about how many of the folks at podstock have a common connection. I believe many of those who attended would most likely be considered "Quick Starts". Think back to many of the presentations over the two days. How did they present? Yes, with passion, but many of them were what I would call shot gunning (this is NOT a bad thing). There was so much to share that presenters tended to bounce around as they presented. They had a clear order in which they presented yet if you really stepped back and thought about it you would realize they seemed to jump around. Another observation was how presenters handled a technical problem. When something didn't go as planned they simply took a deep breath, adjusted and moved on. These are characteristics of a Quick Start. Most teachers we know would have panicked when the technology failed to do what was expected.

    My Kolbe.....4       3      8      4 ...........................

Why is this an issue? According to research we are finding that most who work in education are either "Fact Finders" or "Follow Thru" individuals. (This too is NOT a bad thing either). We need all modes to make the world go around. Truthfully, if we only had Quick Starts we would struggle to get things done as there would always be another great idea to think about.

The real problem is Fact Finders and Follow Thru folks tend to drive us Quick Starts crazy (yes, I scored an 8 out of 10 on Quick Start). We throw out our ideas but the Fact Finders always want more information or data and the Follow Thrus want to know what this will look like when we are done, as well as what every step needs to be taken to get there.  Plus, we (Quick Starts) drive Fact Finders and Follow Thru folks crazy. We tend to jump around on them. We don't provide all the information needed before they can move. We tend to have a lot of ideas, way too many ideas and can't seem to land on one. In some cases we actually can make them mad because we don't seem to be focused.

This may explain a few things:

A) For those of you who are Quick Starts and try to work with fellow teachers in your home districts, you may have noticed how much step by step procedures are needed for your fellow staff to do anything. They can't seem to fill in the blanks on their own. They may even drive you a little nuts because it seems they can't grasp what you are saying or what you see as the simplest procedures. They can't seem to adapt quickly to changes.

B) For a few people at Podstock I did see some frustration on their faces as they watched presentations which seemed to bounce around. This indicated to me that they were most likely a Fact Finder or Follow Thru individual. The presentation was most likely confusing to them or it was hard to keep up. But the fact that they were there tells me that Fact Finders and Follow Thru folks want change and they are willing to implement technology in their classrooms. They just need a way to grasp it without becoming so frustrated when they learn from us Quick Starts.

C) You probably heard a ton of comments about how Podstock was like a family. The feeling is that since it's such a small conference this creates the family feeling. That's probably true, but if I am correct and most of us are Quick Starts, this may also be a reason why we bonded so quickly.

D) THE BIG ISSUE as I see it .. we (the Quick Starts) need to realize how different we are in the educational world. It does appear we are the minority. If we truly want to get our message out there and bring change to education we need to understand our audience. Since most in education are Fact Finders and Follow Thrus we need to figure out ways to deliver our message in a way that they can embrace.

Let me give an example: Kevin Honeycutt made a comment during Kay Tibbs

I became very focused on this after changing my job last year. I realized over half way into the school year that I was freaking out many of my staff. That both my message and how I delivered it was causing problems. My choices were to continue to push my message my way or figure out ways to deliver my message in a way that would sell most of my staff.

One way I did this was turn to my fellow administrators who were Fact Finders, Follow Thrus and Implemenators. I sat with them (smaller audience) and we worked out the message that needed to be delivered (yes, this took some time and is still an ongoing process). Either they provided me with ways to present to the staff or they delivered my message for me in their own words/actions. Slowly, I believe, the message is getting out there.

I also had my whole staff take Kolbe and started training them on what it means. Of course the Fact Finders need more information before they are going to embrace this concept. My Follow Thurs are still working to see how this fits into the bigger picture. My Implemenators have a quicker understanding since they can identify how much they love to use their hands but are still adjusting. Last, the Quick Starts jumped on the bandwagon quickly and are trying to figure out how to use it. I would also say that we are doing Kolbe Y with our students as well. Hoping that when the staff grasps the concept, they can incorporate and use this knowledge of their students to improve learning. We've found that many At-Risk students tend to be Quick Starts and Implemenators. They don't fit a normal classroom where the teacher is teaching from the Fact Finder or Follow Thru viewpoint. But that's another topic for another day.

Is this observation a good one? I don't know. One way would be to find out the Kolbes of all the presenters and attendees. Unfortunately, that may not be possible if Podcast attendees haven't take the Kolbe. (The cost to take an individual Kolbe is about 50.00) I do plan on Plurking and asking Podcast attendees to submit their Kolbe if they have it. Once I do I will add the results to this blog.

In conclusion ... if you are a Quick Start and are trying to bring change to your district, take a moment and study the Kolbe. Learn what works with Fact Finders and Follow Thrus so that you can successfully deliver your message. Believe me, most of your fellow teachers fall into those two modes.

(If you have thoughts, ideas on this please share.)
Shawnee Heights Crew @ Podstock


  1. This was a powerful post for me, especially because I know where you've been and I see what you're trying to do. Some big parts of this mission are in my mind communication and community. Understanding the mindsets and tendencies that drive our colleagues is crucial. This is a great conversation for our PLN to continue!

  2. It has taken me a few years of presenting and facilitating professional development in my district to get to know my fellow teachers learning styles. It is a challenge to meet everyones needs but it is imperative that we try.
    We can plod ahead individually or work collectively to empower and help our students be lifelong learners and problem solvers.

  3. Thank you so much for such a great post! I am just now entering the presentation world and find myself to be a "Quick Start" On my 6 hour drive home, I was able to really go back and look at my own presentation. I think I have something exciting to share, but I have discovered that I need to break it down even more. I have since sat down and looked at what I really enjoy, how I use technology with my specific students (children with disabilities) and how I can make a more cohesive presentation. Thanks again for a great post!

  4. Alan, this was an insightful post. I am most likely a Quick Start surrounded by folks from other modes. I have on many occasions been frustrated by our lack of progress under my leadership as an elementary principal. Perhaps the Kolbe model would be helpful for me. Thanks. PS--It was good to connect with you again. It's been awhile since the Kal-Tech days.