Writing can be intimidating. Writing a blog that the whole world can read, even more. And that's why I applaud all those administrators and teachers who engage in this activity, or any Web 2.0 activity that promotes the sharing of ideas and growth.
In my own attempt to share and grow, I posted the following discussion question on Classroom 2.0, Steve Hargadon's Web 2.0 Ning, back on March 27th.
What types of support/working conditions are a must if progressive, technology-embracing educators are to be productive, creative, innovative and committed to their profession for the long haul? Yes, it's a big question, but I find myself thinking more and more about it. What would our working conditions look like, feel like, sound like? To what degree would teachers themselves be responsible and to what degree administators?
Within moments a quite insightful reply by high school educator Matt T. came back.
Great question! I've been thinking about this a bit, too. A few thoughts that come to mind:What a fantastic response! While all of these points are certainly true, the second one resonated strongly with me. Only a few days later, Will Richardson wrote on this very same issue in his April 6th post Transparency=Leadership.
...some sort of sustained professional development/learning - no more "this year's initiative is..." This might be accomplished via professional learning communities, individual personal learning networks, and/or a "knowledge base" of previous PD articles, slides, etc.
...administrators who join in and "do it," too. I went a conference break out a few months ago where the presenters mentioned that their administrators vowed to learn along side everyone else as they rolled out Moodle at the building and eventually district level. The faculty were using it with their students and the administrators used it to get feedback after each PD day as well as to get input from other stakeholders in the district in what would have otherwise been done killing a few trees.
...an emphasis on assessment reform. I personally believe assessment has the potential to spur future change. Once we re-think the "way" and the "why" we "assess" then it's much easier to view how other things such as classroom management might improve, too. It may also help better define technology's role in the big picture.
Looking forward to this discussion. Thanks for starting it up!
What two things (and only two) would you tell educational leaders are the most important steps they can take to lead change today? I got that one from a professor at Oakland University last week, and after pausing for what seemed like an excruciatingly long time, I answered “build a learning network online, and make your learning as transparent as possible for those around you.” And while I really think the first part of that answer would make sense to most leaders out there, I think the second would have them running for the hills.
The obvious commonalities? Both Matt T., an in-the-trenches teacher, and Will Richardson, a well-respected educational blogger and consultant, are saying that the two most important endeavors educational leaders (this includes both teachers and admin) can embark upon are as follows:
1. building a DIGITAL ONLINE personal learning network (PLN)
2. learning along side of one another all the while making that learning TRANSPARENT so we can see we're all on this non-stop journey together
Whether administrating or teaching in the classroom, we're to be Learners and Teachers.....and it's a cycle that is non-ending and re-energizes itself. It's contagious and stimulating. Creativity and innovation are the end results because transparent growth is the ultimate admission that we "haven't arrived", heck that "there is no arriving" in this profession, only the journey.
If you want to be motivated, carve out some time and listen to the following Seedlings Bit by Bit podcast if you want to hear an example of a administrator and teacher doing both #1 and #2 above. Susan Phillips is the principal of Chets Creek Elementary in Jacksonville, FL and she is walkin' the talk thanks to the encouragement of Melanie Holtsman, a Chet's Creek teacher who's sharing her knowledge. Both of these ladies are the type of teacher/learner Will Richardson refers to when he says,
A big part of myin terms of who to believe and who to trust stems from how willing a person is to share her ideas, what level of participation she engages in, how ethical or supportive those interactions are, and how relevant she is to my own learning needs.