Tag Archives: principals

Do the right work

24 principals in a big room on Tuesday…

Do we know what ‘the right work’ is? Can we identify it and label it? Can we tell the difference between ends and means? Between desired outcomes and strategies? PLCs, Common Core, RTI, concept-based instruction, PBIS, 1:1, and Daily 5 are NOT the end goal, they’re just strategies and mechanisms to get us from here to there. Engaged learners, quality facilitating, and rigorous curriculum get us closer…

Painful

Can we create time and structures that allow us to do the right work? Do, plan, delegate, eliminate. What do we do that falls into each of these boxes? More importantly, what can/should we move into ‘delegate’ and ‘eliminate?’ WHY IS THIS SO HARD FOR US? As Jeff Herzberg notes, we’re awfully expensive cafeteria monitors (and substitute teacher finders and class schedulers and bus duty monitors and …).

And then it gets really hard. What are our own immunities to change? What is stopping us from changing what we KNOW we need to change about our own work? And by the time we’re done, we’re stating some big (testable) assumptions:

  • I assume that if I do have honest conversations, then my teachers won’t “like” me and then they’ll lose faith in my leadership ability.
  • I assume that if I do delegate the way I need to in order to be a strong educational leader, then building morale will spiral on a downward path because of the notion that I am being lazy and not doing my job.
  • I assume that if I’m not in the flow of information, then I will lose my sense of power and be just another person going through the motions.
  • I assume that if I ask people to make meeting appointments [instead of just popping into my office], then they will think I am stuck up and will think that I don’t think they matter. Ending in they won’t like me.
  • I assume that if my staff knew that I didn’t know everything about our initiatives, then they would lose respect for me. It would change how they view me as their leader.
  • I assume that if I do not [personally] take on all of those duties that could be delegated, then certain parts of the school day will be chaotic and this will be a reflection of me as a leader.
  • I assume that if I do force change and push the envelope, then I will lose credibility with our staff.
  • I assume that if I force too much change, alienate staff, or go against prevailing culture, then I will be seen as a liability and my position will be eliminated.

A powerful day of reflection, conversation, and internal interrogation. Thank you, Troyce Fisher.

Image credit: Painful, Ben Raynal

Calling all bloggers! – Leadership Day 2012

August is Connected Educator Month and Wednesday is the 6th anniversary of my blog. I can think of no better way to celebrate both than to host Leadership Day 2012! To paraphrase what I said five years ago:

Many of our school leaders (principals, superintendents, central office administrators) need help when it comes to digital technologies. A lot of help, to be honest. As I’ve noted again and again on this blog, most school administrators don’t know

  • what it means to prepare students for the digital, global world in which we now live;
  • how to recognize, evaluate, and facilitate effective technology usage by students and teachers;
  • what appropriate technology support structures (e.g., budget, staffing, infrastructure, training) look like or how to implement them;
  • how to utilize modern technologies to facilitate communication with internal and external stakeholders;
  • the ways in which learning technologies can improve student learning outcomes;
  • how to utilize technology systems to make their organizations more efficient and effective;
  • and so on…

Administrators’ lack of knowledge is not entirely their fault. Many of them didn’t grow up with computers. Other than basic management or data analysis technologies, many are not using digital tools or online systems on a regular basis. Few have received training from their employers or their university preparation programs on how to use, think about, or be a leader regarding digital technologies.

So let’s help them out.

How to participate

  1. On Wednesday, August 15, 2012, blog about whatever you like related to effective school technology leadership: successes, challenges, reflections, needs, wants, resources, ideas, etc. Write a letter to the administrators in your area. Post a top ten list. Make a podcast or a video or a voice-narrated presentation. Highlight a local success or challenge. Recommend some readings. Create an app, game, or simulation. Draw a cartoon. Do an interview of a successful technology leader. Respond to some of the questions below or make up your own. If you participated in years past, post a follow-up reflection. Whatever strikes you.
  2. The official hashtag is #leadershipday12
  3. TO ENSURE THAT WE CAN FIND YOUR POST, please complete the online submission form AFTER you post, including a short teaser that will drive traffic to your post. Everyone then will be able to see your post in the complete list of submissions. If you want to link back to this post or leave a link to yours in the comment area, that’s okay too!

Some prompts to spark your thinking

  • What do effective P-12 technology leaders do? What actions and behaviors can you point to that make them effective leaders in the area of technology?
  • Do administrators have to be technology-savvy themselves in order to be effective technology leaders in their organizations?
  • What are some tangible, concrete, realistic steps that administrators can take to move their school organizations forward?
  • What are some tangible, concrete, realistic steps that can be taken to move administrators themselves forward? Given the unrelenting pressures that they face and their ever-increasing time demands, what are some things that administrators can do to become more knowledgeable and skilled in the area of technology leadership?
  • Perhaps using the National Educational Technology Standards for Administrators (NETS-A) as a starting point, what are the absolutely critical skills or abilities that administrators need to be effective technology leaders?
  • What strengths and deficiencies are present in the NETS-A?
  • What is a technology tool that would be extremely useful for a busy administrator (i.e., one he or she probably isn’t using now)?
  • What should busy administrators be reading (or watching) that would help them be better technology leaders? What are some other resources that would help them be better technology leaders?
  • How can administrators best structure necessary conversations with internal or external stakeholders regarding technology?
  • How should administrators balance enablement with safety, risk with reward, fear with empowerment?
  • When it comes to P-12 technology leadership, where do we need new knowledge, understanding, training, or research?
  • What are (or might be) some successful models of technology leadership training for school administrators?
  • How might preservice preparation programs for administrators better incorporate elements of technology leadership?
  • When you think of (in)effective P-12 technology leadership, what comes to mind?

Here are the 353 ABSOLUTELY EXCELLENT posts from the past five years (353!)

A badge for your blog or web site

I hope you will join us for this important day because, I promise you, if the leaders don’t get it, it’s not going to happen.

Checklist

1,133 educational leaders to kickstart your Twitter feed

Twitterbirdblueonwhite

Got an administrator in your school or district who’s interested in Twitter but doesn’t know whom to follow? Interested in connecting online with more administrators yourself? Get started with these 1,133 educational leaders on Twitter! [UPDATE: Now up to over 2,000 leaders!]

I’ll keep adding to this collection. Special thanks to Patrick Larkin, George Couros, Lyn Hilt, Chris Lehmann, Dan Frazier, and others for helping me expand my existing list. If you’re maintaining a Twitter list of P-12 educational administrators that I should know about, or would like to chat about creative ways to use these lists, get in touch!

[Continuing what I hope will be a months-long wave of resources for school leaders and the programs that prepare them…]


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