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Leadership Day 2009

On Sunday, July 12, 2009, bloggers from around the world will be addressing leaders in school buildings, central administration and policy makers regarding effective school technology leadership. You can find links to many of these posts by using the #leadershipday09 search tag on Twitter. Scott McLeod will also be organizing and summarizing these posts at his blog, 2009leadershipday02Dangerously Irrelevant. I know I will be carefully reading and referencing these wonderful ideas for days and weeks to come, but I wanted to add my own voice to this call as well.

I will start by saying that I am very fortunate to have an administration who embraces innovation in instructional technology. As proof of her vision as a leader, she also sees technological and instructional leadership to be tightly woven together. This is an essential key to creating a school culture that will embrace the greater collaborative opportunities that are afforded with the tools available today, not just the tools themselves.  In order for students to maximize their own learning and the potential of a community to move forward in global education, schools must realize the potential for teaching and learning as a cohesive unit. A friend of mine would always follow up one of my statements like that with the question, “But what does that look like, Kelly?” In attempt to pay homage to her as a school principal, here are five steps to get you started.

  1. Create an instructional model, not a technological model. These two elements must be one in the same. Technological tools with no pedagological focus are useless.  Just because a final product is generated through a laser printer or video camera doesn’t mean that transformative teaching is taking place. As you integrate new teaching and learning opportunities into your school, you must provide teachers with on-going support and encouragement. By keeping the focus on instructional practice, teachers will see this shift as supplanting previous strategies, rather than creating additional work.
  2. Take a walk. Find a local school who is effectively using technology in classrooms at each grade level and in most content areas. Call them. Set up an appointment for a walk through. Take a group of your teacher representatives from each grade level and a camera/video recorder. Build connections at this school. I have no doubts that they will offer needed advice and support as you are transitioning. Pick their brains. Glean ideas. See effective uses of technology at work.
  3. Model leadership through learning. It is my strong belief that teachers will not effectively integrate technology for the learning of their students until they use it for their own learning. It is very difficult to create meaningful learning experiences for students when we, as teachers, haven’t had them ourselves. Schedule a training for a particular tool, such as a wiki, Google Docs or Twitter, and integrate that one tool into daily use within the school. Hold all your calls during that training. Administrative participation and enthusiasm about the learning tool will set the tone for the staff. Set up an environment where staff can explore the tool and its uses for learning, sharing and collaboration on a professional level. As the staff as a whole starts to feel more comfortable with the tools being introduced one at a time, the application and enthusiasm will spill over to student experiences.
  4. Bring Back Show-n-Tell. Once teachers and students are embracing the instructional applications for these web-based and digital collaborative tools, organize a monthly show-n-tell time. Ask each grade level or content area to be in charge of a 30-60 minute sharing session one month in the calendar year. They should share what technology resources they are using, how they are using them and the successes they have encountered. By empowering teachers to be experts in what they are doing, they will also gain ideas from peers for application in their own classrooms. By creating a culture of sharing and collaboration, teachers will be more likely to solicit the input and advice of peers.
  5. Rise to the Challenge. Challenge your teachers to alter one of their instructional units in each of the grading periods to integrate more technology. Once you have started introducing tools to the staff, encourage them to find ways to use the tools in their classrooms with their students. Equally recognize and support those teachers who are using these mediums outside the classroom to enhance their personal and professional learning. At the same time, take the plunge yourself. Take your school calendar off the giant whiteboard in the teachers’ lounge and put it on a Google Calendar where all staff members can see it and edit it. Put all of your staff materials on a wiki where they can be easily accessed and used for the staff (like field trip forms, handbooks, etc.). Take on one project at a time and begin your journey to connectivity!

Ok, I lied. I have one more step, but I think it is critical enough that it merits it’s own additional number.

  1. Reach Out. As you begin the process of transforming the learning and teaching in your school, reach out into your community. Keep parents informed as to what you are doing and, more importantly, why. Provide education for them as to how their children’s learning is evolving and what this means for them at home. Make sure parents are aware of the digital footprint the children are creating and their responsibilities at home to ensure the safety of their kids. Let them be active participants in their children’s learning and you will have no choice but to create excited, empowered, global learners.

Good luck on your journey. Be informed. Be enthusiastic. Be student and learning centered. Hopefully you will even blog about it!

13 Responses

  1. Thanks for creating a great scaffold to follow. One of my teachers, @johnstonsarah is going to be teaching differently this upcoming year and I will share this process with her. I love the idea of an instructional model Vs. technological model.

  2. I love the show-and-tell concept. This is something teachers can relate to – especially those that teach in the primary grades. This is a great list. Thanks for sharing your vision.

  3. I planned to visit your blog post first, suspecting that you would set the bar for everyone, and I was not disappointed! You have created a checklist (well defined) for not only educational leaders but also parents and teachers. What I like most about your framework is that each component speaks to what we know best about learning and best practice: model, guide, observe, reflect, ask questions and take risks! Excellent thinking, Kelly. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts!

  4. We did show-n-tell this year, and I think it made a huge difference for teachers in seeing how to transform the tool into a learning process. Many teachers can manipulate the tools but don’t see how to incorporate them seamlessly into learning. Hearing how their peers were doing it seemed to make a tremendous difference. We set it up so that teachers received technology CEU credit for attending as well!

  5. Thanks for sharing your well-defined framework. I agree that we are the best teachers for our peers and that reaching out to other school communities who are already practicing the tools we want to incorporate is a great idea. As I read all of these ideas I am inspired to light a fire at my own district to make some changes so that we can get with the 21st century! Thanks .

  6. I’ll echo some others: I like the show-and-tell idea and wish we had more of that. I want to learn best practices from my colleagues as much as possible.
    Kevin

  7. Great process you have outlined. This is right where I am this year starting the process of introducing the staff at my school to the many new possibilities that I have learned about in the past year. I look forward to moving them from step 1 to step 6.

  8. Nice post! That’s a thorough list, and I like that you added the communication with parents in at the end. It’s much more effective to have tech literate students going home to tech literate parents!

    I’m wondering if you’re familiar with Bernajean Porter’s work on literate, adaptive and transformative uses of technology? For example, using a Smart Board in the same way you would use a flip chart and chart paper is not really economical, nor is it transforming the learning in the classroom. Using a Smart Board for lessons that could never take place with a flip chart can transform the learning in the room.

  9. I was sitting down to write my own leadership blog post and now I don’t know if I can follow with anything better than you have outlined here or that your insightful readers haven’t added in their comments. Nicely written, offering thoughtful and worthwhile advice! Now if we can only get the right people to read it!

  10. I’m really glad and I think I’m talking representing mostly of homeschooling virtual educator parents, finding content like this one, is for sure a really good guide in all of our learning process, we need to carry on all of the situation presented with our children when we are trying to guide them from a home learning environment, for sure my k 12 homeschool curriculum will have to almost everything U wrote here I’m really excited about taking those walks and then challenging myself with more valuable tech content.

  11. Excellent advice for all educational leaders. I especially like the part about rising to the challenge. Sometimes we have a map to follow but fail to understand why we need to follow it.

  12. […] aggregated collection of these posts from his site, Dangerously Irrelevant. Last year, I posted a list of things that administrators could do to get started off on the right foot to encourage growth  within their buildings. This year, I […]

  13. Great tips! I will try to use them. Be sure to keep writing.

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