“If you’re doing all that, who’s doing your job?”
“People only present because they think it looks good on their resume.”
“She’s obviously all about herself, I mean, look at what she does.”
These three statements literally were shared with me this year, along with a couple others. Some to me, some with me…all about me. It’s hard to hear statements like this and NOT feel as if they are attacking you personally, even though I doubt that was the intention. (er…I hope.)
Last Monday at #ISTE13 I was able to go to George Couros’s sesson on “Leading Innovative Change”. I’m not sure what I thought this was going to be about, but I knew I wanted to see the Couros show, His intent was to share how his school division created a powerful vision for innovation and share the steps to guarantee success. What I heard was a defense for all that I believe in and have tried to convey as a teacher, as a technology facilitator, and as an assistant principal. What I heard was the reason I blog, tweet, and share.
George doesn’t claim to be a “technology” expert, he is the director of innovative learning. He promotes the learning first and the technology second. Which is the way it should be! I’ve gone to some great conferences this year….some were strong in technology, some were great with content, but we need to start seeing a mesh of both to get to where we want to be as “lead learners”. Technology should be utilized to ENHANCE instruction, not control it. Instruction should be driven by strong pedagogy and we as administrators need to model and support this line of thinking, not just pushing apps or other consumptive measures. Having technology training’s or big whole group “workshops” isn’t enough to make it happen. Teachers need consistent support and modeling in order to get from point a to point b…do you see students waiting to learn until the next half PD day? Teachers shouldn’t either.
Utilizing a form of technology means nothing in a classroom if its just for the sake of the tool. I’ve talked about the concept of focusing on the verbs, not the nouns before. George said that even going 1:1 can be a $1000 pencil if we don’t allow connections and collaborations. There was a lot of talk at this conference about teachers relinquishing control and allowing students to have a voice in their learning. Students will complete assignments for a teacher because it was due. If they were creating to be shared with the wold, they would care a whole lot more. It can be good enough enough just to turn in, but for the world they’ll want it to be GREAT. Obviously this is a big picture ideal, but where can you start? A culture shift doesn’t really take 3-5 years. Just ask the Gangnam guy…within a year he has altered the way we react to hearing his song.
George shared that we should ALL be sharing. In what may be my favorite #ISTE13 moment (minus a @mrmacnology sighting) he asked the audience who felt that they could make him a better teacher. He encouraged everyone to raise their hand, that we all had something to offer that could help him. He followed that with, “Great. Where can I see your stuff online?” The oooooh’s from the audience were palpable. In order to be innovative, you have to take risks. We have to be the models of this for our teachers, and them for our students. There is so much showing and telling that goes on in our school, we need to add more sharing and DOING. Don’t just be a leader…be a digital leader! Encourage your teachers to blog, to tweet, to get themselves and the greatness that they are doing OUT there. Model this by sharing resources with your teachers, tweeting, or blogging yourself. Have a minimum standard for your campus, but allow your innovators to INNOVATE.
George was such a clarifying speaker on why we should be making digital leaders in our classrooms, both for teachers and for students. The matter of fact way it was delivered was genuine and encouraging. I would have loved to see him do an ignite session or a keynote. His final message? Jump. Jump in. Just do it…the longer you wait, the more scared you will be.
And if you don’t? If you are so uncomfortable with this concept or don’t get it? Encourage others, don’t put them down or dismiss what they are doing. Blowing out someone’s candle doesn’t make yours shine any brighter.