Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Thing 23: Administrators - Reflecting on Leadership

In education, a plan for success is rooted in the kind of person we want to see when they graduate from our school, our district, our post-secondary institution. Keeping the End in mind, what do our students need to be successful in the next stage of their educational and life journey? Once those qualities are identified, we need to analyze the structures, resources, and people expertise available to ensure that our students achieve those end goals. It takes ongoing reflection on practice by all school stakeholders to identify and provide support so that students become successful.

23 Things for Administrators offers, not necessarily tools--though those are in plenty, rather a look into the culture that is the lifestyle of our students, including the tools they take for granted like those of us who think nothing of a VHS machine, cassette player, refrigerator, or the pre-personal computer era. While there is a diversity, often disparity, of experience and access to resources that are continually expanding and growing--to some--more complex, there is one constant...

Development of a learner's mind is crucial to the individual and society. Growth in critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, innovation, communication, and collaboration are the coin for success and survival. While these skills do not require use of technology, it is the social networks, multimedia, and participation in the knowledge explosion that is the world we live in. Classrooms or schools that "close" the door to these realities, are frozen in time, walled out and left behind the common practices and usage in the real "real world."

Leadership, in part then, is about guiding staff to communicate, collaborate, critically reflect, problem solve, create, and innovate ways to let in the world as the students understand so as they might more effectively learn curriculum. The adage applies here: practice makes better skilled. Teachers model to students what they do themselves. As leaders, then how do we model to our administrators and teachers?

Here are some ideas, some in addition, to the tools offered in 23 Things:

  • Back Channel
    Example: Todays Meet
    During instructional talk or video viewing, participants post comments and resource links on a website as a way to allow learning and conversation to be non-linear. It's a back channel to the main conversation. Have you ever been to a session where the speaker sparks an idea or mentions an article or resource? You look for it and then post it along with your thoughts for the benefit of the other participants.
  • Slideshare
    This was addressed in Thing 18. Maintain an electronic portfolio of documents and presentations that tracks progress, thinking, and support for staff. Include resources for conversations. Here's one from a Dell presentation about Connecting students to learning:

  • Pageflakes
    Create your own portal for where information comes to you. Include sites and information you'd like to have your staff get resources. If staffs have their own Pageflake, they could RSS your Blog or Wiki or news sites or school resources. iGoogle is another one that does the same. Here's an example.
  • Google Wave
    This will be a great innovative tool for collaboration and development of resources with all tools at your finger tips. Great for building and district committees. Let's not forget collaborative teams on a state, national, and international level.
Keeping the End in Mind is crucial. Communicating and collaborating in a reflective process around problem solving, creative synergy, and innovation is how we use Web 2.0 to meet the needs to supporting staff who in turn help students develop themselves.