Quality leadership is an essential factor for making change in education. Just ask any classroom teacher who has had a particularly good, or bad, building principal, and they will tell you stories. Stories of triumph or tragedy, depending on which of the leaders they were paired with.
In Project RED’s study of nearly 1,000 schools involved in a major technology implementation, they state “the principal’s ability to lead change is critical.”
As Simon Sinek says, “There are leaders and there are those who lead.”
I’m very honored that I have the opportunity to work in a district where our entire administrative team is pushing and challenging each other to be the latter.
As part of that effort, this year we created the 21st Century Leadership Academy. Every member of our administrative team is taking part, and over the course of this year, each participant will engage in 63 hours of specific, focused professional development on becoming a 21st century leader. That’s a combined total of 2,520 professional development hours for our team.
There are plenty of conversations about the qualifier “21st century”, and wherever you stand on the convention, we find it a very useful way to add the necessary context to say that we want to do things different. We want to move from a traditional means of education to an environment where kids are empowered and given agency in their learning. We want to create a culture where we are preparing students to be successful for life.
We are fortunate to be partnering with Scott McLeod in our efforts, and Scott will join us for seven full day sessions this school year, and our team will then follow up with a two hour session in the weeks between full day sessions. Together, Scott and I will facilitate the conversations about what should change in education and how we as a district can move to an environment where student ownership is actualized and learning experiences are moved from low-level to high-level thinking.
On September 10, we held our first of the seven full day sessions. We spent the entire day digging into the why. We engaged in the thought experiment, “Because of digital technologies, our world today is more…” We talked about the implications for learning and schooling, and through the process, we came to a shared understanding of why we need to change education. Perhaps even, reinvent it, as Tony Wagner suggests. We created ownership through the process. Not buy in, but ownership.
Our team ended the day by joining a Google+ Community we set up for the group to continue the conversations and dialog until we meet again in October.
Think about the power of having the entire administrative team together to have these crucial conversations and wrestle with the concepts. We have a great deal of learning, and thinking, and challenging, and inspiring ahead. I’m incredibly excited for what that will mean for our students.