Seth Godin Keeps Me Blogging

I have always been an infrequent blogger, but this past year I’ve been pathetic about sharing my thoughts. It’s sad because I know that my blog posts are an important part of my learning. As Seth states, “the humility that comes from writing it. What matters is the meta cognition of thinking about what you’re going to say.” While it’s always nice when someone comments on a post, I stopped worrying about that a long time ago. Over the years I’ve come to realize the importance of organizing my thoughts and ideas into these posts. It took me awhile but I now understand how valuable it is for me to share my ideas with a wider audience and to expose myself. It may seem like a bit of a risk, but I think that the benefits outweigh the potential negative consequences. As a school leader I think that it’s important for me to model this type of learning.

I write this as I begin to prepare for a workshop on how leaders can use social media to promote learning in their school communities. The workshop is part of the Innovate 2013 Conference. I’m going to be promoting blogging even if you’re not one of the Edublog Award Winners. I’m going to share this short video from Seth Godin and Tom Peters at the session. In my dreams I keep thinking that I’ll get better at blogging so that others will see it, but in reality, that may not happen.


How often do we limit our students’ learning?

A couple of weeks ago our lower school academic technology coordinator, Jennifer Peterson, and a 4th grade teacher, Maranda Schwartz, were grappling with whether or not to use Google SketchUp on the medieval unit on castles. Maranda had heard that 4th graders at another international school were using it so Jennifer decided to test it out. In the process, Jennifer learned that Google SketchUp is an extremely powerful tool that takes time to master and understand. She consulted online tutorials and used trial and error to create her own castle. Maranda and Jennifer were not sure that their idea was even realistic. There was little time for them to prepare and students only had a few sessions to create their castles. At one point the two of them were going to scrap the project in favor of traditional castle building. At the last minute they decided to test it out and see how it would go. Jennifer presented the tool to the students but made sure that they knew that she was not going to be the expert with the tool and that they would all need to seek online resources and help each other out. What happened then, surprised everyone. Many of the kids picked up the tool much quicker than Jennifer and Maranda had expected. The students helped each other out and they sought out resources for their learning. In the end, the project turned out to be a success.

Imagine if Jennifer and Maranda had decided to not take a risk to introduce this to students.  It would have been a lost learning opportunity for the everyone. This story got me thinking about how often we decide to not  do something because we think that the students can’t handle it or that we don’t have enough time to become the experts. One of the most powerful learning experiences from this example came from the teachers not being the experts. They were just learners alongside other learners. Kudos to the both of them for taking a risk that benefited the students.

Check out the final projects to see for yourself.

How much are you willing to expose yourself?

ImageOn my recent trip to New York I happened to see the Naked Cowboy in action. He seemed very comfortable in only his hat, underwear and boots and he was putting on quite a show. He’s obviously quite the extrovert and performer and I could not help but think about how comfortable he was exposing himself to thousands of strangers. It got me thinking about how much I’m willing to expose about myself online with blogging and social networking tools. While I may have been timid in the past, I actually find myself becoming more comfortable exposing myself online. My thinking is that it will offer a wider audience some insight into my thinking and personal life.
Let me test out a few scenarios for comment.
1. Friending Colleagues on Facebook – I still remember reading in First Break All the Rules by Buckingham and Coffman that questions #5 is “Does my supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about me as a person?” As a principal what do you think about friending others from your school on Facebook? Do you see it as a way to learn more about your co-workers and a way to let them into your life? Or, do you see it as a risk?
2. Sharing The Work of Your School on a Blog – Doug Johnson’s guidelines for blogging have always seemed reasonable to me. He suggests that you…
  • Write assuming your boss is reading.
  • Gripe globally; praise locally.
  • Write for edited publications.
  • Write out of goodness.
How much are you willing to share about the work that is going on at your school? Are you only willing to share the positives while you keep the negative issues and conflicts internal?
3. Posting Photos and Media Online for the World to See – This Thursday we’re offering a parent workshop on digital footprints and we’re talking quite a bit about what types of photos and videos we will post online. I recently traveled with a student group to do community service and I was anxious to share photos online via Flickr or some other tool. How do you view the sharing of school related media online?
4. Sharing Your Personal Life Online – If you’re on Facebook how much of your personal life are you willing to share? Does your stance on this have anything to do with your school community? For example, will you post photos of you with alcohol? Are you careful about the language that you use?
Going through the process of determining how much you want to expose yourself can be exciting and scary at the same time. The important thing to remember is that you’re not alone in trying to figure out the right level of exposure. I for one don’t plan on parading around in my underwear online but I may be seen in my swimsuit at the beach.

How does the principal change his/her practice in a 1:1 environment?

Cross posted on 1 to 1 Schools.

We know that practices change when teaches, students and administrators have ubiquitous access to technology on a daily basis. In the classroom, teachers and students have to explore different strategies for teaching and learning. In the administrative offices, school leaders should, promote and model effective communication and collaboration among stakeholders using digital-age tools.” (From ISTE’s NETS-Administrators). These changes don’t happen overnight because it can be difficult to develop new skills and knowledge and to change habits. What does the school leader who suddenly finds him/herself in a 1:1 environment do? In what ways do they change their practices to effectively leverage these new tools?

Let’s look at the following scenario: The principal and/or administrative team members are in charge of facilitating a planning session(s) with community stakeholders and all members of the group have access to a wide variety of resources and technological tools.

It’s very likely that the sticky notes and chart paper will not be needed for this meeting.

Let’s begin with Jeff Utecht’s four questions that Nick mentioned in his post entitled, “I’ve got to think of a new job title.”

  1. Is the technology being used “Just because it’s there”?
  2. Is the technology allowing the teacher/students to do Old things in Old ways?
  3. Is the technology allowing the teacher/students to do Old things in New ways?
  4. Is the technology creating new and different learning experiences for the students?

These questions can certainly be used by the leader to guide his/her planning. It seems to be a real challenge to develop a planning session that will create a different experience for the participants.

Some of the possibilities include:

  • Using the tools to cut down on the face to face meeting time. Only meet in person when it’s really necessary.
  • Using software to organize thoughts and ideas into visually stimulating digital images.
  • Providing the group with a wide variety of online resources that they can review anytime, anywhere.
  • Encourage the participants to seek out related information and resources throughout the session.
  • Start the discussion off with a blog post for people to comment on.
  • Communicate key concepts and ideas with stimulating visuals instead of the traditional bullet points.

I’d love to hear how school leaders are changing their practices to capitalize on this new environment. How are you “creating new and different learning experiences” for your community?

21st Century School Leaders as “Wannabe Pseudo Geek Management Types”

As you know, I’m a strong believer that school leaders today need to model the use of technology daily. The modeling should be in ways that help him/her do their job more effectively. They don’t necessarily need to be using technology the same way that teachers do. The modeling also sends a message to teachers that he/she is willing to change his/her behavior and to learn  new things.

Well, for quite some time I’ve struggled with how to refer to a school leader (like myself) who strives to model appropriate use. I’ve never really thought of myself, or liked the term “geek” because I don’t really care about what is happening behind the technology and I don’t like troubleshooting. I just want to be the end user. Well, Scott Klososky in the video The Great Speaker Search of 2015 provides us with the new label, “Wannabe Pseudo Geek Management Types”. I kind of like it. I like the “not actually” part of this definition.

1. not actually but having the appearance of; pretended; false or spurious; sham.
2. almost, approaching, or trying to be.

So, the next time that someone tries to label you as a “Geek” you can tell them, “Actually, I’m a “Wannabe Pseudo Geek Management Type”. I think that it will lead to a chuckle and maybe even a discussion on what it means.