Posts Tagged ‘Leadership’

Typewriter What is Your StoryParticipating in #satchat and #satchatwc via Twitter today has me reflecting on the different ways we should be using digital storytelling to tell our story as a school district, but more importantly, how we should be creating opportunities for students to tell the story.  There is such  incredible learning going on in our schools, and we need to leverage technology to help spread the word. For the last few years, educators and educational institutions have been portrayed as stagnant places where children lose their sense of wonder, fall behind and are bullied. Without the stories of what REALLY goes on in our schools, people are left to believe what’s out there.
So what are some ways or tools we can utilize to tell our stories? Here are 5 I find intriguing…
  • School Twitter Account @CAPS_CHS
    Setting up a school Twitter account is easy but keeping it relevant source of information is a bit more challenging. I have the support of two teacher leaders who help tweet about events, announcements, achievements and more. I would like to try featuring some student tweets on our school Twitter feed and run monthly contests highlighting points of pride. By using Vine, we could have Twitter video contests providing short 6 second videos or utilize different tools to allow for longer videos. We could connect to Instagram for photo contests and student blogs/websites for just about anything else.
  • School Video Newsletters
    For years schools have sent home weekly newsletters, but Sadly as a parent, I only skim those for important dates and announcements and often miss the pieces highlighting what was going on in the classroom. However, I never miss when I see my child in a picture or a video. I would love to see weekly newsletters become electronic with highlights showcased through students’ voices. Maybe there is a student from each grade level or content area who records a description of what was learned that week. This can be layered over pictures so parents can see the learning and hear about it through the voice of the students. Video doumentaries are also a great way to showcase the learning for a week.
  • Student Blogs
    I love the idea of student blogs using EduBlogs. Blogger, WordPress, etc. These can serve as a learning portfolio. A school can choose to highlight a student blog of the day. This type of initiative provides students the opportunity to tell their stories and provides them with authentic audiences. I also love the idea of students seeing their own growth as thinkers and writers.
  • School You Tube Channel
    Highlighting students through video is very powerful. There have been many occasions where I wish I could share some of the great lessons, projects, performances, etc. with the community, parents, students and a larger global audience. I need to get better at using video and finding ways to share that video.
  • CommunityCAMP
    Next year, I would love to see if we could organize an EdCamp for the larger community, where our focus was 21st century learning. High School is vastly different from when we went to school. The community needs to see how we utilize technology to enhance learning opportunities and growth. This would be a great way to showcase OUR Story- It could be the theme! Staff and students present ideas and tools that parents and the larger community could utilize in their lives.
Below are the highlights from the #Satchat April 14th that has me thinking about different ways to tell our story so someone else does not tell it for us.

If we commit to the idea that students need to be gritty to increase their odds of success in the world, what does that mean, what does that look like? As a leader, I need to do more than have conversations with staff about providing opportunities for choice, creativity, innovation and passion. I need to model this by affording teachers to be passion driven, innovative, creative and allowing time to foster those relationships with students. What this looks like….

  • loosening up of pacing guides
  • celebrating innovation
  • allowing failure
  • reflection
  • cultivating passion
  • creative scheduling
  • saying yes
  • new classes
  • finding funding
  • telling our story
  • rewarding growth (not on standardized tests)

I believe one of the most rewarding and beneficial tools for me in my growth as a leader has been finding an authentic audience. Conversations with excellent educators in my building, blogging and building a PLN on Twitter has given me confidence, opportunities to reflect and helped me to develop beliefs about where we need to go in education. Being intentional about affording teachers and students authentic audiences that will help them grow and develop passions and grit is going to be a priority for me in 2014. That would be a great Twitter Chat #miched #edchat ; how to find authentic audiences for students.

Just finished a great four days of LEARNING….

Returning from the MACUL and MRA conferences, my thinking was pushed in so many directions; I was overwhelmed with where to start. I spent one whole day listening to George Couros who a speaks about harnessing the power of technology and social media to lead. He said that after a good session at a conference, he often skips the next session or the rest of the day and finds a quiet place to reflect. Although I could not bring myself to leave the room, I realized that I created this blog to make time for reflection. I have not made time since early December. It is time to make this a priority again.

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Reflection is critical to learning

I believe this is true in a person’s personal and professional life. This is true for our students as well. I left feeling that every student and staff member should have a blog or what we used to refer to such reflections as a journal, diary, etc. The benefit of a blog is that it is something searchable and accessible. It should be a record of new learning, growth, thinking and much more. I want this record of thinking, learning and growth for our students, for my children. A place they can go, reflect and create.  This a place they can share their ideas and voice. This is a place they can find an authentic audience and be heard. People need to know that their voices matter and blogging is a platform that will allow space for thinking, innovation, creation and learning…. publicly.

I decided if I want our students and staff to learn publicly – to make their learning visible, I better commit to the journey myself.

1. I learn/grow with my PLN (Personal Learning Network.  As educators we talk about life long learning with our students, parents and colleagues but walking the walk is more challenging. Traditionally the cost of classes, geographical constraints, lack of quality professional development, etc. have stunted professional growth. Every educator has sat in a large auditorium or conference center and listened to a research supported lecture for too long and taken a couple practical ideas away. Often these professional development opportunities are more “Do as I say and not as I do.”

Those days are gone. Whether you are connecting on social media websites like Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, through MOOCs, or at Edcamps, being connected is easier than ever and more beneficial. Not only are educators collaborating and sharing resources, but they are providing support, encouragement and inspiration. I feel rejuvenated and inspired.

2. Opportunities to impact and interact with the world. As educators we are always trying to make real world connections and stay relevant for our students. Being connected allows for students and staff to interact in authentic ways with authors, politicians, business professionals, scientists, and more. Students can problem solve real world challenges. Not only does this provide purpose, but it is highly engaging for students.

3. Inspires innovation and risk. There are so many ideas, tools, and technologies out there for educators, it can be very overwhelming and almost defeating. When I read my Twitter feed in the morning, read articles from my account, or reflect on my learning through this blog, it is difficult to keep from thinking that I should be doing so much more. Instead of feeling bad about myself or throwing the towel in, I take a step forward and try something new. Sometimes it is something small or simple, and sometimes it is overhauling how I provide professional development. The point is when weighing the cost benefit of change, being connected with others who are taking risks gives me the courage to go forward. Sometimes, I fail, but sometimes I succeed. In the end, I hope to model to my colleagues that we should be willing to take chances and be innovative.

4. The power of feedback. Once I take risks and put myself out there, I get authentic feedback from my PLN. This provides me opportunities for reflection and it pushes me to grow as an educator. Feedback and reflection are incredibly powerful.

5. Connect and Collaborate. I spend an incredible amount of time trying to plan professional development, staff meetings, lunch and learns, orientations and more. I have found that collaborating with others in my position has changed the way I function in my role. Everything I do is created in a platform where I can share that work. I have found others who are conducting their work in the same manner, and we are able to work together to frame different initiatives and trainings. This has not only saved me time but made me more effective. I have a sounding board that transcends geography, time, and bureaucracy.

Being connected has improved the way I think, communicate, plan and work.