Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Student Technology Use - Leadership Day 2012

I'm writing this post in response to Scott McLeod's Leadership Day 2012. The purpose of Scott's annual leadership day is to encourage school leaders to think and post more about how they influence the use of technologies in their schools. Last year, I posted about the lack of evidence between the use of technology in schools and student achievement measured via accountability tests, which might prevent some evidence based school leaders from making a strong press to increase the use of different technologies in their schools. This year, I'll focus more on students, and as a principal, how I plan to encourage our teachers to improve use of different technologies in their classrooms.

As educators, I think it's important to remember that different technologies are simply tools for us to help students develop some of the skills they will need to be successful adults. As a principal, the way I see this getting done is by having the students use any technologies that might be available in our schools. I think it's imperative that we teach our students how to collaborate with others, how to make connections with others, and how to create solutions to problems with increasing complexity via use of these different technologies. Teachers and students need to continue to develop their skills to use technologies to guide their learning. This first requires us to develop our educators to become comfortable with the technologies, so they can facilitate proper and effective use to their students.

This year I plan to make a bigger press to convey those technological skills to our teaches that I think are important for our students to begin to develop...collaborating, connecting, and creating...then, we'll put a plan in place to continue to develop our teachers. We made a press last year to get more of our teachers on Twitter, which I believe is an excellent platform for anywhere, anytime learning, and we'll continue to do that during the upcoming school year. We'll also put plans in place to encourage more teachers to create personal/professional blogs, classroom blogs, and to utilize some of the freely available tools to allow for our students to collaborate with others in their class or around the world. We began making a bigger press in developing these skills in our students and teachers last year. For example, Tim Slack (@slackt) and I encouraged our students to collaborate on ideas to reduce, reuse, and recycle in schools. This international collaborative project, Tim is the principal of St. Rita Catholic School in Ottawa, Ontario, was well received by teachers and students alike, and our students were excited about learning how to better "green" our school.

So, for Leadership Day 2012 my focus is on student technology use and making a bigger press this year to make sure our teachers are comfortable in developing our students' skills to allow them to use available technologies to collaborate, connect, and create with others to improve learning for all. What are your plans for this school year?


Friday, August 10, 2012

Professionalism, Patience, and Persistence

As I reflected on my role as a principal throughout this summer, I thought about how I could concisely summarize my approach to school leadership to quickly and simply convey my style to others. I felt compelled to do this for a variety of reasons, but primarily because of the changes that have occurred in my professional and personal lives over the past year. The more I thought about this, the more I convinced myself of the importance of being able to deliver an elevator pitch to accurately reflect what I value as a school leader, as well as an individual, to improve learning for all. So, I've come up with a three word phrase that certainly conveys what I value and expect from others as we guide our students, children, and colleagues to improve their learning: Professionalism, Patience, and Persistence.

My experiences at all levels and roles in public education, my graduate education at Rutgers University, professional and personal relationships, and professional reads have influenced me to value each word in this phrase. Although professionalism, patience, and persistence are intertwined, I'll briefly explain why each word is such an important component of my leadership style.

I take pride in looking to the evidence to guide my leadership practice, so much so that it's incorporated into the title of my blog. The school administration/leadership literature contains a wealth of evidence to suggest that professionalism is paramount for schools to achieve at high levels. I've previously posted about the importance of professionalism in schools, which you can read herehere, and here. I believe that when you treat people like professionals, you provide them with opportunities to do great things.

This is something that I continue to develop throughout my life and career, as I suspect most of us do. I've thought more about improving my patience in all areas of my life since watching this video several years ago. I don't know how my own children, colleagues, or friends perceive my degree of patience, but as a school leader, I think it's important to be patient with faculty, staff, and students. I believe that when you are patient with your school community members, you're letting them know that you trust them to get the job done.

The work of Carol Dweck and her colleagues supports the value of embracing the growth mindset for future success, and I've learned from reading some of this work that persistence seems to be key to this mindset. I encourage all educators to read some of Dweck's work. To me, persistence is reflective of one's work ethic, and our schools deserve nothing less than individuals who are willing to do whatever it takes to improve learning for all. Exceptional educators are persistent in learning, leading, and encouraging others to embrace and develop the growth mindset.

This summary of my leadership style has allowed me to develop a better sense of what I value in myself and others as we work to improve learning for all. I encourage your feedback and thoughts on this post to help me continue to develop my school leadership elevator pitch.