Interesting conversations are occurring, well-known edubloggers are advocating for their topic suggestions (see, e.g., Vicki Davis and Brian Crosby), and, perhaps most importantly for ISTE, there seems to be a fair amount of interest in its ‘choose your conference keynote’ project.
After just a few days, my suggestion is duking it out with Kevin Honeycutt’s for the top position:
I think Kevin is a great guy, but I don’t think his topic should be a keynote over mine. It seems to me that 95%+ of the ISTE conference every year is the same thing: tools, teachers, and classrooms. These are important, but as I said in one of my comments under my topic suggestion:
We've been relying on teachers & teacher leaders & tech integrationists & tech coordinators for decades now. Where's it gotten us in terms of systemic reform? It's gotten us isolated pockets of excellence in a few classrooms. When a principal "gets it," nearly the entire school changes (minus the few resisters). When a superintendent "gets it," nearly the entire district changes (minus the few resisters).
I'll repeat… It is the formal leaders (administrators, policymakers), not informal leaders, that have control over ALL of the important variables: money; time; personnel hiring, evaluation, and assignment; organizational vision and direction; professional development; etc. All you have to do is look at a school like the Science Leadership Academy to understand the importance and power of a formal leader that "gets it."
Why such pushback on a leadership keynote? It's not like we have one every year. In fact, we'd be hard pressed to remember more than a small few in the history of NECC/ISTE. ISTE has five keynotes and I'm a big fan of Kevin Honeycutt. But one of the keynotes should pertain to effective FORMAL leadership. Otherwise we'll just keep talking about tools and teachers like we always do…
So the gloves are off, Kevin! I don’t know if I can pull this off, but I’m not going down without a fight.
Thanks to everyone who already has voted for my topic and/or participated in the conversation. Any assistance that you can continue to lend me would be most appreciated; I need more people to vote for my suggestion and to spread the word about the contest. I’ve got an uphill battle and am going to need all of the help I can get!
Scott – I’ve done what I can with my votes so I’ll weigh in with my comments…
Vision is key to reform, and the job of setting vision is given to “leaders”. So whether one is a formal or informal leader, whether one has influence at the school, district, board, provincial or state level it is the vision of our leaders that will get us (or not)to where we need to go in education.
Through the educators I follow on Twitter I can see how valuable NECC has been in informing/transforming their practices.
With a keynote on Leadership ISTE might attract those of us tasked with setting vision to attend. I’d love to be able to go to Denver in 2010, but if ALL the sessions are aimed at practitioners it will be hard to make my case.
The conference keynote exercise is interesting to watch, and a lot of good suggestions on tweaking your topic have been made. I truly hope people get on board with dedicating at least one keynote to Leadership – the transformation will indeed take more than tools.
Am *not* impressed with the teacher bashing comments on the leadership side of the argument. Teachers have been hemmed in within the K-12 environment from all I have heard. The *art* of teaching has been replaced with a strictly behavioral approach preparing students for lots of tests (leave no child ….) . Students aren’t learning to actually THINK anymore! Why not a third idea for a Keynote added to the mix: “Reclaiming the ART of Teaching and Learning in the Digital Age”??
Actually, I like my proposal better than either of them. 🙂
I do agree with Scott, however, that a ISTE keynote is not the place to be pushing tools over big ideas. A keynote presentation should challenge the audience to reflect on their practice and suggest ways of improving it, not giving them new toys to play with.
I like your proposal and agree that it would be a great keynote. I don’t want to take off my gloves and go bare knuckles here. Maybe this is more like a friendly downhill slalom. I do find this process interesting thought. I wish the proposal that is doing well for me had been the one I eventually added called “peripheral learners” but such is life. If yours wins I will be happy, If one of mine is even considered, I will be happy. Good luck Scott!
I really like your proposal, Scott, and I also like the aggressive way you’re promoting the topic. The problem that I see is that many current leaders got where they are by being able to navigate the current organizational structures. 21st communications tools will radically change those structures. It’s like the king promoting the abolition of the monarchy.
@Francine: I agree that teachers are hemmed in. The folks who are doing the hemming are our leaders (administrators, policymakers). Thus the need for a great presentation that highlights what effective school tech leadership SHOULD look like…
@Kevin: Yeah, even tongue-in-cheek, the ‘gloves off’ metaphor probably wasn’t the best one to choose! It was meant to show that I needed to ramp up my efforts, not that you and I are in opposition. I hope your suggestion makes the top 5 too (’cause then it will really be fun to see speaker nominations!).
@Dan: Trying to be assertive, not aggressive. I agree with you that reinventing schools also means reinventing ourselves as leaders. That’s complex, difficult work and many either are not up for it or, as you note, are not inclined to go there.
Let’s remember that we’re suggesting topics, not people. Although the two are surely linked, the ISTE committee could conceivably decide that Kevin might be the best one to deliver Scott’s proposed Keynote address – or vice versa!
I agree that there should be more discussion about formal leadership and it’s importance in reforming education. I am an educator and researcher in the fine arts AND in technology – both areas where reform is greatly needed. My research and the research of many others in the field point to the need for system-wide leadership in reform efforts and that individual leadership does not necessarily lead to lasting change. The principals and superintendents are important, but the leadership scope must grow. How do you include collaborations of superintendents? How do you include policy makers in the discussion?
That said, I’ve been to ISTE several times and the conference is largely attended by teacher and tech-coordinators in my experience. So while I feel a leadership keynote is needed, I understand WHY teachers and tools is popular – that is the largest audience segment.
@ Dan McGuire / current leaders : The Innovator’s Dilemma : For enemies he has those who have done well in the old system and for friends those who watch by the sidelines, sit on the fence until it is clear the direction the wind will blow.