Do you ever Google yourself? If you don’t, why not? If you do, what do you see? If something about you does not come up on the first page, something is wrong. Your learning community needs to know what you believe is important. Your voice and ideas need to be read and heard! If you are not blogging or putting out a digital newsletter on your school or district website, you are missing golden opportunity to communicate with staff, parents, students, and the stakeholders of your community. Most students and parents are using digital media to communicate with friends and family using websites like Facebook or Google +. If you or your school community are not using these digital mediums to communicate your story, you are missing out, and what is worse, people may be telling your story for you and you might not like their version! As a leader, you have to plug yourself into these networks, to build your school’s brand, to keep your stakeholders informed, and to model good communication for your staff.
If you lead a school or district today, you are a busy person! Phone calls, paperwork, meetings, classroom visits, building budgets, curriculum…etc. fill your day and it is hard to stay ahead of the latest trends and news in our field. It is essential that you be informed on national and state policy and keep up with what your neighboring districts are doing to improve their schools. How do you do it? Digital tools are are available to bring you the latest news and trends, cut down on desk time, and keep you connected to your staff and administrative teams. You can have a tool that brings you the latest education news right on your desktop, customized with just the content you want (try Google Reader). You can have educators all over the world sending you ideas and resources directly to you on your computer or phone (try Twitter). You can collaborate with staff and teams virtually without having to physically meet (try Skype, Google Docs, or Google +). Evaluations and data about observations can be collected, stored and distributed digitally by using a smartphone, iPad, or laptop and a form created in Google Docs.
The examples above are just a small sampling of the ever growing number of digital and social media that are available for school administrators to make communicating and dealing with data easier. What is probably just as important as using these tools to make work more collaborative and less time consuming is to model for the learning community modern tools that today’s students and teachers need to be using daily to continue to learn and prepare themselves for the future. You may be saying to yourself, “I can’t afford the time to figure all this stuff out.” I say, “You can’t afford not to find the time to become a digital leader!”