The Greatest Challenge Facing School Leaders in a Digital World
the Center for the Advanced Study of Technology Leadership in Education – CASTLE
If a school’s reputation and pride are built on decades or centuries of “this is how we’ve always done things here,” resistance from staff, parents, and alumni to significant changes may be fierce. In such institutions, heads of school may have to steer carefully between deeply ingrained habits and the need to modernize the information tools with which students and faculty work
Too often, when navigating faculty or parental resistance, school leaders and technology staff make reassurances that things will not have to change much in the classroom or that slow baby steps are OK. Unfortunately, this results in a different problem, which is that schools have now invested significant money, time, and energy into digital technologies but are using them sparingly and seeing little impact. In such schools, replicative uses of technology are quite common, but transformative uses that leverage the unique affordances of technology are quite rare.
many schools fail to proceed further because they don’t have a collective vision of what more transformative uses of technology might look like, nor do they have a shared understanding of and commitment to what it will take to get to such a place. As a result, faculty instruction and the learning experiences of students change little or not at all.
These schools have taken the time to involve all stakeholders—including students—in substantive conversations about what digital tools will allow them to do differently compared with previous analog practices. Their visions promote the potential of computing devices to facilitate all of those elements we now think of as essential 21st-century capacities: confidence, curiosity, enthusiasm, passion, critical thinking, problem-solving, and self-direction. Technology doesn’t simply support traditional teaching—it transforms it for deeper thinking and gives students more agency over their own learning.
Another prevalent issue preventing technology change in schools is fear—fear of change, of the unknown, of letting go of what we know best, of being learners again. But it’s also a fear of letting kids have wide access to the Internet with the possibility of cyberbullying, access to inappropriate material, and exposure to online predators or even excessive advertising. Fears, of course, need to be surfaced and addressed.
The fear drives some schools to ban cellphones, disallow students and faculty from using Facebook, and lock down Internet filters so tightly that useful websites are inaccessible. They prohibit the use of Twitter and YouTube, and they block blogs. Some educators see these types of responses as principled stands against the shortcomings and hassles of digital technologies. Others see them as rejections of the dehumanization of the education process by soulless machines. Often, however, it’s just schools clinging to the past and elevating what is comfortable or familiar over the potential of technology to help them better deliver on their school missions.
Heads of school don’t have to be skilled users themselves to be effective technology leaders, but they do have to exercise appropriate oversight and convey the message—repeatedly—that frequent, meaningful technology use in school is both important and expected. Nostalgia aside, there is no foreseeable future in which the primacy of printed text is not superseded by electronic text and multimedia. When nearly all information is digital or online, multi-modal and multimedia, accessed by mobile devices that fit in our pockets, the question should not be whether schools prepare students for a digital learning landscape, but rather how.
Many educators aren’t necessarily afraid of technology, but they are so accustomed to heavily teacher-directed classrooms that they are leery about giving up control—and can’t see the value in doing so.
Although most of us recognize that mobile computers connected to the Internet may be the most powerful learning devices yet invented—and that youth are learning in powerful ways at home with these technologies—allowing students to have greater autonomy and ownership of the learning process can still seem daunting and questionable.
The “beyond” is particularly important. When we give students some voice in and choice about what and how they learn, we honor basic human needs for autonomy, we enhance students’ interest and engagement, and we truly actualize our missions of preparing lifelong learners.
The goal of instructional transformation is to empower students, not to disempower teachers. While instructor unfamiliarity with digital technologies, inquiry- or problem-based teaching techniques, or deeper learning strategies may result in some initial discomfort, these challenges can be overcome with robust support.
A few workshops here and there rarely result in large-scale changes in implementation.
teacher-driven “unconferences” or “edcamps,” at which educators propose and facilitate discussion topics, can be powerful mechanisms for fostering professional dialogue and learning. Similarly, some schools offer voluntary “Tech Tuesdays” or “appy hours” to foster digital learning among interested faculty.
In addition to existing IT support, technology integration staff, or librarians/media specialists, some schools have student technology teams that are on call for assistance when needed.
A few middle schools and high schools go even further and assign teachers their own individual student technology mentors. These student-teacher pairings last all school year and comprise the first line of support for educators’ technology questions.
As teachers, heads of school, counselors, coaches, and librarians, we all now have the ability to participate in ongoing, virtual, global communities of practice.
Whether formal or informal, the focus of technology-related professional learning should be on student learning, not on the tools or devices. Independent school educators should always ask, “Technology for the purpose of what?” when considering the inclusion of digital technologies into learning activities. Technology never should be implemented just for technology’s sake.
more on digital literacy for EDAD in this IMS blog
Twitter chats can boost student voice, enhance digital citizenship
Roger Riddell Dec. 19, 2017
This is another example of blanket statements aimed to bank on buzzwords and fashionable tendencies. Indeed, use of social media is an imperative skill for any educational leader, since it provides a modern venue to communicate with the rest of the stakeholders in the educational process: parents, students etc.
However, the process of social media use in education is rather more complex as presented in this article. e.g.:
- why Twitter? why is Twitter chosen by the author as the social media platform, considering that Snapchat is the social media app by choice of teenagers?
- why the hashtag use is the one and only altmetric consideration for deep data analysis? The author suggests taking “advantage of an analytic tool to measure effectiveness and participation,” but there is no specific recommendation and the choice of the analytical tool as well as the process of analysis is a science on its own
- how educators, as suggested by the author, “want to guide students on comment intensity and type while keeping them on topic”? Indeed, an educator abiding by constructivism will facilitate and guide, yet there is a fine boundary between facilitating and dominating the conversation with “guidance.”
The most useless suggestion in the article:
“For administrators, Twitter chats also provide an opportunity to gain student and parent perspectives while giving them more voice in what’s going on within a school or district.”
Are administrators willing to yield that power to their constituency? What does the current research on educational leaders’s attitude reveal regarding their willingness to engage in such open (and difficult to control) discourse? How is such attitude to be changed: this is missing in this article.
What is your approach to the institutional use of social media at your school?
Conference 1st to 4th March 2018 Atlanta, Georgia, United States of America
Contact person: Angela Baker
Tracks: Age-Friendly Environments; Business and Aging; Global Aging Curriculum and Policy Issues; Translating Research to Education and Training; Program and Curriculum Development; Workforce Development
6 Proven Ways to Spot an Emotional Intelligent Leader
Directing attention toward where it needs to go is a primal task of leadership.
1. They have self- awareness. Emotionally intelligent leaders understand their own emotions and know how to manage them. They don’t speak out of frustration or anger; they control their emotions and wait to speak up until their feelings have settled and they have processed their thoughts. They don’t react in the heat of the moment but wait to respond.
2. They respond to criticism and feedback. Every leader faces feedback, some of it negative. Emotionally intelligent leaders don’t become defensive or take it personally. They listen, process, and genuinely consider other points of view, and because they’re always looking to improve, they know how to accept sincere critiques.
3. They know how to generate self-confidence. Emotionally intelligent leaders share a healthy dose of confidence but never cross the line into arrogance. When they don’t understand something, they ask open-ended questions that aim to gather information, not challenge or argue. They know how to give and take in a way that generates confidence.
4. They know the importance of checking their ego.Leaders who have to demonstrate their own importance or value are not yet connected to true leadership or emotional intelligence. Those who are know how to speak and act out of concern of others. They don’t always have to be the center of attention, and they would never take credit for the work of others. Secure in their own abilities, they’re generous and gracious to others.
5. They know how to embody empathy. Leaders with emotional intelligence can put themselves in others’ shoes. They listen with genuine interest and attention and make it a point to understand, then give back in a way that benefits themselves and others. They know how to create win-win situations.
6. They know how to engage with empowerment. The best leaders–the ones with the highest EQs–make it their mission to believe in others and empower them to believe in themselves. Instead of focusing on themselves they know it’s the power of the people that makes leadership successful, so that’s where they focus their efforts.
more about leadership in this IMS blog
Interview Questions for 1:1 School Leaders
found in G+ https://plus.google.com/+JeffUtechtEd/posts/Vys7LxSjzuW
help administrators as they start hiring for their 1:1 environment with some questions they can ask during the interview process.
Questions for teachers entering a 1:1 school
What computer platform are you most comfortable with, Mac, PC or tablet?
Why do you want to work in a 1:1 school?
What particular challenges and learning opportunities excite you about working in a 1:1 school like ours?
Being able to look up information and resources on the web is an important skill. Explain how you go about looking up information on the web. How do you verify that the information you find is trustworthy and of use to you and your students?
Knowing we are a 1:1 school and that we expect students to use their laptops for learning, what is something that you would start learning and thinking about today to prepare you for this new learning environment?
At what times do you feel that it would be appropriate to have “lids down”? When do you believe a laptop is not a tool for appropriate use?
How comfortable are you with using online resources in your classroom? What are some resources you’ve used in the past? How have you found these resources?
Tell me how you think the future you are preparing children for will be different?
How often do you/have you taken part in technology Professional Development opportunities?
Do you read any professional magazines or educational blogs as part of your own PD? If so, which ones?
What apps do you use to curate information?
What apps do you use to curate information?
Do you have a Personal Learning Network? If so, can you tell me a story of how you learn from your network.
How often do others come to you for guidance in using technology? Do you offer guidance when not asked? If so, describe how you did this recently?
7 Qualities That Promote Teacher Leadership in Schools
7 Qualities That Promote Teacher Leadership in Schools
three shifts in policy and leadership culture may help move these efforts forward:
- New types of assessment are gaining ground. Several states are piloting performance-based assessments to replace standardized testing.
- Exemplars in the business community are now promoting flat organizational structures, where employees work in smaller teams and have more voice and power over how they work.
- Teachers are more networked than ever before, providing a unique opportunity to share and spread good teaching practice.
crucial decisions about curriculum, leadership roles and discipline.
While the hybrid roles that teachers play at teacher-powered schoolsmay seem like a lot of work, they give teachers the power to decide what programs, textbooks, software, etc., should or should not be used in order to make space for the community’s vision. And when teachers decide together on the vision and strategy to reach all students, they are often more invested and excited by the change they are creating from within.
Some of the best available examples of how to improve teacher quality and promote teacher leadership lie in models offered by other high-performing places, like Finland and Singapore.
Seven qualities must be in place.
- A vision and strategy for teacher leadership, “with stated goals and clear images of tasks to be done, must be in place.” Teachers must feel part of creating this vision in order to buy in.
- A supportive administration. “Principals must be willing to share power with teachers and must have the skills to cultivate them as leaders,” most educational leadership programs focus on supervising teachers, not supporting them as leaders.
- There need to be appropriate human and fiscal resources.
- Work structures that enable authentic collaboration are crucial. While more resources help on this point, there are creative ways to stretch limited dollars.
- Supportive social norms and working relationships are key to teacher leadership. “All too often, policymakers develop incentives to motivate teachers and administrators,” . “Instead, policies and programs should be in place to value teachers spreading their expertise to one another, allowing teaching to be exercised as a team sport.”
- Organizational politics must allow for blurred lines between roles. Teachers can only take on leadership roles at the expense of principals and district-level administrators. This also requires teacher unions to act more as “professional guilds” and for districts to follow the example of some for-profit businesses that are flattening bureaucracies.
- The school and system must be oriented toward risk-taking and inquiry. Just as students need hands-on applied learning rooted in inquiry, so, too, do teachers need powerful driving questions to push their work forward. “School systems must be able to interrogatethemselves about the extent to which they create opportunities for teachers to learn and lead in ways that spread teaching expertise and improve student outcomes.”
Guajardo, M., Oliver, J. A., Rodríguez, G., Valadez, M. M., Cantú, Y., & Guajardo, F. (2011). Reframing the Praxis of School Leadership Preparation through Digital Storytelling. Journal of Research on Leadership Education
(5), 145–161. http://doi.org/10.1177/194277511100600504
p. 149-150. Digital storytelling applies techniques that cross disciplines, fields, and subject matter. Digital storytelling pioneer Dana Atchley used the varied techniques such as case study, personal experience, introspection, life story, interviews, artifacts, cultural texts, observations, historical interaction, visual texts, and others (Lambert, 2002, 2006). Atchley’s techniques are firmly rooted in research methodology and collectively describe routine and problematic moments and meanings in individuals’ lives (Denzin & Lincoln, 2000; Lambert, 2006). Qualitative researchers often refer to this process as a bricolage, or the creation or construction from a variety of things. This bricolage helps Downloaded from jrl.sagepub.com at SAINT CLOUD STATE UNIV on June 8, 2016 Guajardo et. al./REFRAMING THE PRAXIS OF SCHOOL LEADERSHIP 150 to clarify our ontologies and inform epistemologies. Ladson-Billings (2000) explained epistemologies as more than the traditional way of knowing. Instead, epistemologies are a system of knowing that has both internal logic and external validity. The assortments of experiences used to inform our way of knowing then become the deliberate choices between hegemony and liberation. This process allows individuals to move beyond a traditional epistemological stance, or what Stanley (2007) has called the master narrative. Shujaa (1997) has called it a worldview epistemology that looks at knowledge as a symbiotic interaction of how we view the world, the knowledge we possess, and the knowledge we are capable of passing on to others.
p. 156 digital storytelling has been found to help organizations understand themselves (Militello & Guajardo, 2011). When organizations delve into introspective practices through the use of digital media, small and large organizations alike invite the opportunity to learn from deep, digital reflection.