Saturday, August 31, 2013

To Boldly Go Where Few Have Gone...

It's the beginning of a new school year, and for many teachers and students there is a curious mix of moods, such as apprehension, excitement, and focus, especially as the demand for accountability and core standards reaches a heightened level. No matter what delusions of accountability our elected leaders throw at our schools, and our students, the desire to continue moving our schools, and our students into 21st Century learning is more crucial, now, more than ever. It will take responsible leaders making this jump to hyperspace possible, despite the wreckage and stray asteroids of political criticism and reactive attacks that prevails.

How bold will you be, as a leader in moving your school forward?

In a wonderful research study by Barbara Levin and Lynne Schrum (2013), they remind us that "leadership matters for promoting the integration of technology in schools, and that administrators need to be increasingly involved in technology projects in their schools to model and support their use." I reiterate, school leaders need to walk the walk, and talk the talk of what they expect their school community will become. As a school superintendent I had a wonderful principal who challenged me to model the way for the rest of the school administrators, and start using social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, and blogging. Well, I took up her challenge and found a responsible way to utilize social media as a school leader, encouraging faculty and administrators to do the same.

Levin and Schrum (2013) determined as a result of their research, that leaders of award-winning schools and districts focused their efforts on characteristics of systems leadership required for successful technology integration and leadership: vision, leadership, school culture, technology, planning and support, professional development, curriculum and instructional practices, funding, and partnerships.

Of all of these characteristics, the three that stand out the most are what would be called expectations that come from the role, mannerisms, and actions of the school leader.

Vision: leaders must communicate "a clearly articulated vision" on the use of technology in the schools (Levin and Schrum 2013).

Leadership: leaders need to encourage people "to find their niches and lead from their strengths, working as a team, building teams" to make the work of moving forward viable and owned by the faculty and staff (Levin and Schrum 2013).

School Culture: expect everyone to "plunge right in" the excitement of using and developing technology in the schools (Levin and Schrum 2013).

Regardless of the position and setting, school leadership that challenges and inspires will have a lasting benefit in the future for our students in the future.

Levin, B. B. & Schrum, L. (2013). Using systems thinking to leverage technology for school improvement: Lessons learned from award-winning secondary schools/districts. Journal of Research on Technology in Education46(1), 28-51.