"Daniel, Yesterday's workshop was eye opening, exciting, wowing and indicative of the potential that can be accessed. During the 1st week in August, we are going to be in school preparing for the new school year. We would like you to come in early August to help begin our process with this initiative."
My reasons for sharing this email are two-fold: First, I want to commend this school leader for looking inward and recognizing an opportunity for change. On the flip side, there is that pestering voice in my head that questions whether or not this learning community is ready to put in the work that it takes to move forward as a 21st century teaching and learning community. As Douglas B. Reeves states in the introduction of his book, Leading Change in Your School, "Educational leaders are expert in announcing change, scattering the seeds of promising ideas. But they are considerably less adept at moving aside the initiatives of the previous year so that the seeds of the new announcement have the slightest opportunity to take root." Many times, school leadership teams might abandon a new initiative because of the numerous constraints inherent in running a school. This happens time and time again, which is why it is important to have someone in place within the school (lead teacher, administrator, consultant, etc.) directly responsible for ensuring that the school has what Reeves calls a "meaningful implementation."
Fortunately, there are frameworks currently in place like the National Education Technology Standards which school leaders can use as a helpful guide in monitoring their learning community's progress. The first standard in the newly refreshed NETS for Administrators falls under the category of "Visionary Leadership". Perfect. This standard pushes administrators to create and implement "a shared vision for comprehensive integration of technology to promote excellence and support transformation throughout the organization."
In my last post I talked about the importance of creating a vision for technology integration. The next step after creating that shared vision is to develop specific goals to help achieve that vision. Finally, each goal requires an action plan to assist in the implementation and assessment of each goal. Once those action plans are created and roles are assigned and deadlines are created I firmly believe that a school has a real chance for success. The key, as Performance Indicator B states is to: "engage in an ongoing process to develop, implement, and communicate technology-infused strategic plans aligned with a shared vision." During the workshop, I discussed how using a shared learning application like Google Docs could allow for this process to become much more transparent. If everyone is truly invested in the process then the document will begin to take on a life of its own. We will see comments about the progress; arguments over the vision; goals that are timely, and on it goes until it catches on like wild fire, and the spirit of the document becomes contagious.
I have seen this type of change in practice take effect in several schools I worked in throughout the past two school years. It just so happened that Google Docs was the glue that brought us all together. But the real change came from the people invested in the process, and the tool simply gave us the means to achieve our goals. Once the key stake holders are on board driving this change a "common language" connected to the vision begins to emerge, and with that in mind the schools finds itself in a ripe opportunity -- ready for lift off.
As Editorial Director for The Journal, Geoffrey H. Fletcher states, "Many US schools are on the cusp of greatness. Robust deployment of technology, effective professional development, informed use of data, and close connections to parents and community at large are the hallmarks of these campuses." I agree with Fletcher, but I also believe there is no one size fits all model for this type of transformation. However, a collective vision that evokes shared responsibility, high expectations, and accountability certainly plays a large part in actualizing that vision.
*This post was inspired by Scott McLeod's Leadership Day 2009 Challenge. Unfortunately, I did not make the July 11th deadline.
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