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Keep the Dialogue Going

I didn’t anticipate writing all week about leadership,
technology, and change but I am glad things turned out that way. It caused me to challenge and stretch my own
thinking. I hope it did the same for
you. These types on conversations
between tech educators and administrators don’t occur as often as they
should. I challenge you to continue this
dialogue with school leaders about technology, change, and the learning
experiences our students really need. As
NCLB goes for reauthorization next year, make your voice heard with your state
and federal legislators. It is
paramount.

 

I came across an exciting example of a digital
superintendent
who is still leading on the cutting edge. I think you will find the district structures
and focus compelling

 

Thank you, Scott, for allowing me to blog this week.  It was a pleasure!

 

A closing thought:

 

“This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”          – Winston
S. Churchill

Posted by Steve Poling.

If They Are Listening

If you could speak openly and honestly to a principal or
superintendent, what would you say? What
would you tell him or her about technology, classrooms, and change?

 

Hopefully, you have multiple opportunities to do this in an
ongoing professional dialogue about what is best for students. This is one of those opportunities.  What
can I learn from you about how to make a difference in my school regarding
these issues? What can I pass on to my
colleagues in my district and around the country? Someday when I am a superintendent, what can
I do to make a difference in a dozen schools?

 

There are many criticisms out there about public school
administrators, and many of them are fair, but we also need people to come
forward with ideas and solutions. The
comment on yesterday’s post by Scott Floyd is a great place to start. I’d like to hear from others. Please contribute.

Posted by Steve Poling.

Leading Change

There have been many different conversations recently about
issues and concerns with technology, leadership, and education. See example 1, example 2, example 3, example
4
, and example 5. Sorry for the
simplicity of the links to those examples but it is past my bedtime:)

 

I think the solution to address those issues in school
districts begins with a superintendent who is future thinking, collaborative,
and open to the possibilities that exist. I frequently hear from district and school administrators who are
overburdened with the complexities and demands of NCLB, reduced funding (for
Title programs, among others), and trying to lead learning communities in difficult places. It is easy, and
sometimes understandable, for administrators operate out of a myopic vision of
the here and now. That of course leads
to other problems like the narrowing of the curriculum and throwing the
advancement of technology out the window. On paradigms: you see it because
you believe it means that you have to get people thinking of the possibilities
rather than staying trapped in the problems of today. School districts will not move forward
without people beginning to think of the possibilities. Reeves has a point in saying that action
drives belief (see previous post) (it is certainly reinforcing) but if you are in a place with no action, complete stagnation,  then you have to begin with beliefs (like finding
that hope for the future) or in people’s beliefs that there can be a better
way.  A solution begins with a
superintendent with a broad, deep, compelling vision of what a school district
should be all about including and especially technologically. The next part involves leading from the fine
line of trying to get everyone on board versus telling everyone what to
do. Leading from either extreme will
prove fruitless. You can’t wait for
everyone to get on board in order to create change, but you have to get a
critical mass that is willing and excited to move forward in creating a new
reality. The task of moving an entire
district involves tapping into the passions and ideas of many, many
people. That is where the idea of a
collaborative plan comes into play. It
will take you to systemic reform. That
is the type of plan I talked about yesterday.

 

I would love to hear from you:

What leadership paradigms do you think it takes to create
change in a school district?  What would
you do if you were the superintendent of a school district that has lost its
relevance?

 

A final thought (from an earlier post on this site)(I just had to replay this one):

 

If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance
even less.
                        – US Army Chief
of Staff Eric Shinseki

 

 

Posted by Steve Poling.

Believing is Seeing

Yesterday, I talked a little about how visionary leadership is essential in leading the way to the schools we need with technology, teaching, and learning being comprehensive and cohesive.  The daunting question is: how do you take a school district and move them from where they are to where they need to be?  In addition to vision, it takes collaboration and planning.  School districts need to partner with all stakeholders including, and especially, the local business community.  One such collaboration and plan has been unfolding in our school district.  It is one model that I think will continue to be very successful.  We want to be world class.  Our superintendent will give you a feel for the type of collaboration and planning that we have had. It is called our Roadmap to Renewed Excellence.  Do you notice how technology is woven throughout the plan meaning that it will be what we do not just in addition to what we do?  That is an important distinction. 

I would like to hear from you.  What types of planning processes have you been through on this scale?  What were your results?

A final thought: 

Do you believe it when you see it?  Or do you see it because you believe it?  Those two viewpoints are worlds apart.

Posted by .

Superintendent As Visionary

I have the pleasure of being the second guest blogger.  Thank you, Scott, for this opportunity.  I am the principal at DeGrazia Elementary School as well as a doctoral student in educational leadership at the University of Arizona.  I have my own blog, which focuses on DeGrazia and school leadership.  I write from the perspective of a school administrator who not only loves technology but is deeply concerned about technology getting lost in the shuffle as K-12 education marches toward the year 2014.

What is the superintendent’s role in ensuring that schools are utilizing cutting edge technologies and preparing students for a technology-rich society?  I would argue that the superintendent’s role is to lead the charge.  The role is pivotal so I originally named this post ‘Superintendent as Tech Leader’, and then it occurred to me that it isn’t just about technology.  If technology in schools is about a stand-alone concept or department, then we will miss the mark in educating students and preparing them for a world that was unimaginable just a short time ago.  It is about the superintendent having a vision of what is possible despite the critics, tight budgets, and external pressures.  It is about technology being woven into the very fabric of our school districts in such a way that it impacts the foundation of what we are here for, which is teaching and learning.  It is about a superintendent engaging the school district community in a vision of what the students need for the future.  It is about a collective dream that is turned into a reality for our schools.  I will write tomorrow about one such plan that I think gives hope for the future.

A superintendent and a school district community had a vision of what could be produced when old models were set aside.  This example of visionary leadership can be found at Empire High School.  They are charting new territory.  What other examples are out there?  Are there other school districts on the forefront of innovation and risk taking in educating students for the world we live in and the world we know is coming?

A final thought:

Visionaries have paradigms that allow for the possible to be dreamed and created out of the seemingly impossible.

“In times of drastic change it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned usually find themselves beautifully equipped to live in a world that no longer exists.”  Eric Hoffer

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