Thanks to Twitter and Scott McLeod, I learned that today is Leadership Day 2009 (#leadershipday09) in the blogosphere. The idea is for bloggers to share ideas related to effective school technology leadership. These posts are then linked back to Scott’s original post in his excellent blog, Dangerously Irrelevant, for everyone, including school leaders, to read and comment on. Sounds like a great way to share ideas, start a complex conversation and learn from others!
To start, how is leadership defined in an educational context? I like Mintzberg’s definition:
“Leadership is…about energizing other people to make good decisions and do other things. In other words, it is about helping release the positive energy that exists naturally within people. Effective leadership inspires more than empowers; it connects more than it controls; it demonstrates more than it decides. It does all this by engaging – itself above all and consequently others.”
Leadership goes beyond school and district administration. In every school, there are usually teacher leaders too. According to Harris and Muijs (2003),
“(t)eacher leadership is not a formal role, responsibility or a set of tasks; it is a form of agency where teachers are empowered to lead development work that impacts directly upon the quality of teaching and learning. Teacher leaders lead within and beyond the classroom, they identify with and contribute to a community of teachers and influence others towards improved educational practice.”
Based on those ideas, I think the first step in creating effective school technology leadership would be the creation of a team of administrators and teacher leaders. The purpose of this team would be to work collaboratively to enact constructive change towards increasing effective use of technology within the school. I think it’s important to note that the team members all need to be willing to participate with school staff in formal and informal professional learning activities. A metanalysis conducted in 2007 by Professor Viviane M. J. Robinson suggests that the most effective leadership dimension is “promoting and participating in teacher learning and development.” Leading by example and being active participants in the process is key.
Once you have a team in place, the next step would be to ask some questions:
- How is technology being used to enhance learning in school?
- What needs to be done to more effectively integrate the use of technology in the school?
- Where are teachers ‘at’ with the use of technology in their practice?
- Where are students ‘at’ with the use of technology in their learning?
- What do people know?
- What do they want to learn?
- What do they need to know?
After getting some answers (and probably even more questions!), staff could work on goal setting. I think it would be important for a few school wide goals to be decided, but I also think that personal goal setting on how to more effectively use technology in one’s own classroom would be useful too. From there, the original team could take on the responsibility of planning some professional development activities, and then the learning, and hopefully, positive change, could really start.
Technology is intimidating to many, as is change. To increase success, I think it’s vitally important that the team adopt a respectful, supportive, patient, and encouraging approach throughout the entire process, from asking the initial questions of staff members, to all pro-d activities. In my experience, the approach is often the deciding factor in whether or not one is able to really engage and motivate the learners and create a community of learners.
Now that I’ve written this out, I think I might just try it. What do you think?