Jon Eckert: Innovation, The Novice Advantage and Collective Leadership

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Introduction:

Even though this is the third blog in a series of interviews I’ve done with innovative leaders in Education, it is actually the first interview I did as I’ve learned to try out my own innovations on friends. Jon Eckert and I graduated from Wheaton College in subsequent years, but didn’t become great friends until we reconnected a few years into our professional careers. Over the past 15 years, Jon and I have talked endlessly about school, teaching, learning, and making our profession better.

Jon is currently a Professor of Education at Wheaton College, works with the Center for Teaching Quality, and has done significant research and writing on Strategic Compensation, Teacher Effectiveness, and Collective Leadership. Likewise, he is the author of two books (The Novice Advantage and Leading Together) that begin to layout his research on crafting greater professional capacity for our profession, schools, and students.

Jon Eckert: 3 Questions on Innovation, The Novice Advantage, and Collective Leadership

Jon is easily the best teacher I’ve known or worked with; likewise, he is one of the most humble and eager learners too. His love for students, capacity for learning, and preparation for teaching seem boundless, and I’ve been the beneficiary of hours of conversations over the years whether that be on the phone, at a Cubs game, or during bowling matches with his family. The questions that I’ve been asking in regards to his recent research and writing include:

  1. In your article in Edutopia entitled “The No in Innovate” you say, “When it comes to innovation, saying no is more than OK—it’s essential.” What does saying “no” do for a school and why do schools have such a hard time saying no?
  2. You write in your book, “Novice Advantage” about the research on Technical vs. Adaptive Change. How are they different and why do most innovations fail to take hold in schools?
  3. Lastly, you have a new book coming out soon titled “Leading Together” where you provide research and case studies on Collective Leadership. What is collective leadership and how does it play out differently in the schools you researched? Why is this possibly a more innovative way to lead rather than ‘waiting for superman’ or relying on ‘silver bullet’ solutions?

I hope this short conversation will provide you some insights that might renew your excitement for the work we do every day in our profession.