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Desert Highway
Thoughtful writing authored and shared by members of of the Thinking Collaborative community to support others on the journey.

Sustaining the Journey

Principles of Complex Systems - A Real World Example

Authored By:

Thinking Collaborative


October 24, 2016

Adaptive Schools in the classroom and in co-curricular activities can be very powerful. Thinking Collaborative recently received an email from an Adaptive Schools Training Associate. Here is what she wrote:

I’m not sure if you heard I changed jobs in July. I started at a new school district and am managing a new instructional coaching program. They have not had any exposure to AS or CC. I finished a cohort of AS in August. As always, the participants were so excited.

My favorite thing is I am seeing immediate implementation in the schools. The teachers and administrators are embracing the learning. I wanted to share a picture with you that a second grade team posted on Twitter. None of these teachers were at the training. One of the instructional coaches I work with shared fire circles with them. I am seeing more and more examples of this. I love it!

Here is the Tweet that the trainer refers to in her email.

Already this teacher/trainer can see the Principles of Complex Systems coming into play. Children are sitting in small fires to have dialogue and collaborative conversations. They are being taught the importance of rapport in community building and in creating emotionally safe environments that promote cognitive complexity.

Some of the Principles of Complex Systems (formally the Dynamical Principles) include:

1. Everything influences everything else.

2. Tiny events create major disturbances.

3. You don’t have to touch everyone to make a difference.

So, too, in an Upstate New York School District, the Norms of Collaboration are being posted in classrooms and used with both students and colleagues. In co-curricular activities, like the Yearbook Staff, decisions have been made using AS strategies like Criterion Matrix. Literacy Coaches routinely use the AS strategies in their work with classroom teachers or as district facilitators.

Not everyone has been through the training in the district, but the good word and the power of the work is spreading.

Tiny events really do create major disturbances. You can see the ripples spreading in these systems.

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