Why Forward Movement Matters

If you think about the staggering amount of edtech services out there, coupled with the numerous types of devices, it can feel pretty overwhelming to most people. We go to edcamps, conferences, webinars, etc. and get filled up with so many new ideas and resources but we don’t know where to start. Have you ever had either of these feelings?

Looking at it through the workshop facilitator/presenter lens, I’m just not into trying to cover 60 tools in 60 minutes or whatever other catchy title there is for it. That’s just not my style. I think we (leaders, presenters, etc.) need to keep this in mind when sharing with the intent of moving teachers forward with technology integration. The last thing I ever want to do is see someone get overwhelmed with too many choices. I will tell people this that I’m meeting with or presenting to on whatever the topic may be; especially if our time together is pretty limited.  I’ve seen the look on teachers’ faces that shows their brain has been flooded and they don’t know what to do next. Like I said, there’s so many options out there for us and our students. I’d rather only share 3 ideas with you to dive into and pick from, and you try 1 of them and get really good at it. The old adage of ‘less is more’ most definitely rings true with technology integration.

Even so, when trying to get teachers to focus their learning with incorporating technology, there is often an unnecessary urgency. Here are some of the commonalities I’ve heard teachers say:

“I want to try this, this, and this and have my students using all of them within the next week.” (too much at once)

“Yeah but Mr. ‘teacher down the hall’ is having his students using Hangouts, coding, and robotics.” (feeling the need to compete)

“I’m only doing ____ right now in my class, which I know isn’t much.” (feeling that what they’re doing is inadequate)

Here’s how I always respond to these type of statements: the point is not to see how fast you can move forward, or how many new ideas you can move forward with at once, the point is to just move forward! Forward movement matters! If you’re embracing new ideas by trying them, refining them, and trying them again then don’t discredit yourself. You’re in a learner first mindset and that is huge!

I decided to explore my creative side again by using Canva (my newest learning adventure) to recreate a quote that I love to share with teachers I’m speaking to. I tried to find the original source of the quote but all I could turn up was that the author is ‘unknown’.

It's not about being the best...

 

 

Creating More Lollipop Moments

This video from TEDx Toronto has really been resonating with me lately. It has me thinking about the kinds of learning experiences we create for our students. The relationships we build with our students. And also the learning experiences we create for teachers and the necessity of strong relationships there too. The video is about 6 minutes. It’s worth that watch. I’ve got some more thoughts on the other side.

Yes, You’re a Leader

Stop thinking that you don’t have something to share. That you don’t have insight to offer into making education better; whether that be at the district or school level. Or that no one can learn from you. We’re all leaders when it comes to the business of making teaching and learning better for our students. To existing district and school leaders: are you tapping into the full potential of the leaders you have around you every day? Are you giving opportunity to the people within your organization develop their leadership capacity?

So, what might this look like? It could look like sharing at a faculty meeting, joining in a chat on Twitter to share your expertise, joining a Google Hangout, joining a Google+ community, leading a conversation at an edcamp, or writing a blog post. Some are more comfortable with certain mediums than others. We need to be ok with this and allow it to count as professional growth.

Spreading the Love

Who makes your life better? Who makes you a better teacher? There’s no denying the power of words. No matter how they’re delivered to us. Sean Williams and I had a brief discussion about this on Twitter the other night:

You will never know all the people you have impacted in your lifetime. Chances are good someone has impacted you in some way. Have you taken the time to tell them?

Change the World

We have all experienced our own “lollipop” moments. We all have likely even been the creator of some whether we remember it or not. The power of sharing these moments with those that gave them to us I truly believe has the ability to change the world. It comes down to letting people know they matter. I think about this all the time when I think about the wonderful people I’ve become connected to in online and offline spaces. It regularly blows me away! I am working on being better about telling people who 1) I am thankful for them and 2) that they’re having a huge impact because of what they’re doing and in turn sharing about it, and 3) that I really appreciate it.

Think about the collective power that’s out there already. Now think about if we worked more to tell people they matter, tap into their genius, and help them find the best outlet to share it. Just imagine what could happen!

Why do we follow? 5 Important Leadership Traits

What makes us latch on to a leader? Why do we follow their ideas, presentations, tweets, and/or conversations? I always enjoy learning about a variety of topics related to educational technology, professional development, and education in general.  The last couple years I have had a strong interest in leadership qualities that promote a positive culture and innovation in schools. There are lots and lots of qualities that make a strong educational leader, however, I had 5 come to mind and wanted to share some thoughts about them.

1. Trusting. Leaders instill trust in those that work for them. They get things done when they say they’re going to. There isn’t really a “back burner” to put things on. We trust in our leaders to provide us with the tools, resources, and time to do our jobs to the best of our ability.

2. Valued. A leader makes their people feel important and valued; bringing out the best in everyone. As Liz Wiseman calls it in her book, it is The Multiplier Effect.  Focusing on extracting the genius and best effort possible from everyone.  Not being the only voice at a staff meeting. Seeking out expertise from their own people. Crowdsourcing if you will.  Being a genius maker rather than just a genius.

3. Empathetic. It’s always good to show empathy as a leader. Now we all know that leaders sometimes have to make difficult decisions that not everyone agrees with. This is just how it is. Despite not agreeing with your leader’s decision, when they show empathy that lets us know they not only understand, but they’re not going to leave us stranded without support and resources that are needed even in times of difficult decisions needing to be made.

4. Encourage risk-taking. As my friend Adam Bellow puts it, “Innovation is the intersection of fear and bravery.”. As a leader are you encouraging teachers (and are teachers encouraging students) to take risks? To be brave, bold, and step out of that comfort zone? We all need that type of encouragement. We’re in a different time now. Teaching and learning is different. Leadership is different. It should be. In terms of technology and social media I think of it this way: don’t deny the existence, invest in the potential.

5. Growth. A leader should first and foremost remain a learner. We all should be learners first if we’re truly about doing what’s best for our students. Encouraging teachers to attend an edcamp, build a PLN, and giving teachers time to learn from each other are essential. It’s not a matter of finding the time, it’s a matter of making the time; for educational leaders and those that they lead.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. I’m sure many of you can think of additional attributes that are necessary for a leader to exude. In my opinion the five characteristics mentioned above are key to not only being a successful leader, but also empowering those that we lead.

What other leadership traits would you add?