Whose light can you be?

“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.”


IMG_5438These 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.







25 comments for “Whose light can you be?

  1. Pam Holcomb
    July 2, 2013 at 12:11 am

    Strikes a match; lights up the sky!

    • July 2, 2013 at 2:25 pm

      aw, thank you for always being my cheerleader, Pammykins!

  2. Scott Kapla
    July 2, 2013 at 12:25 pm

    I think too many get caught up in titles. Lead Learners (aka Principals) need to validate risk-taking and illustrate a connected and collaborative culture.

    In the end, it’s about the process of learning and growing then understanding where technology can fit into that process to enhance it.

    With regards to the comments you may hear, remember, many organizations and the people who work in organizations reward and recognize personal sacrifice and NOT personal productivity. (technology = efficiency= productivity)

    Well said, Amber.

    • July 2, 2013 at 2:26 pm

      Thank you Scott, that is a great thing to keep in mind! (many organizations and the people who work in organizations reward and recognize personal sacrifice and NOT personal productivity)In fact, i may write this on a post it and keep it on my computer! 🙂

  3. July 2, 2013 at 12:27 pm

    What I’ve liked about you all along Amber is that you are far from being all about yourself. Excellent post here and I agree, sitting down with George and having a conversation about where we need to be going with student learning and how we need to be innovative in our teaching is an incredibly enlightening experience. Don’t let the distractors take you off course!

    • July 2, 2013 at 2:28 pm

      Thank you Tom! I hope that comes truly does come across!

  4. July 2, 2013 at 12:29 pm

    Thanks for reminding us to keep sharing our ideas with one another. Sometimes it is easy to forget how much value and inspiration there is in just sharing ideas as fellow educators.

    • July 2, 2013 at 2:29 pm

      I think EVERYONE has something to offer, 🙂 and the smartest person in the room IS the room! Thanks Wiliam!

  5. July 2, 2013 at 2:26 pm


    Thank you for this insightful post. I’ve used my blog to catalog my learning for easy reference–mainly for my own use. My work at the school is still getting done, but many in the community wonder how all of the production is accomplished.

    The reason I can get it done is because I use the tools I’ve created. They happen to be useful to everyone else.

    I think you’ll find that too. Thank you for helping me defend my work as well. I’m so excited to see what schools are doing these days. How can we convey these ideas to politicians, intent on hurling roadblocks to the process?

    Keep rocking, Amber.

    • July 2, 2013 at 2:30 pm

      Thanks Rob! I do agree that I can be more productive b/c of the tools I have discovered along the way…and just want others to see the benefit too!

  6. Rodney Turner
    July 3, 2013 at 1:19 pm

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the session and personal experiences.
    I get 2 thoughts in my head with your question. Since I’m a teacher, I say, I am a light for my students and teachers around me. If I were admin, I’d say the same thing. Both people are serving the students in their care and the community who trust them.
    Do you have a specific starting point you share with admin who are hesitant to letting go?
    Thank you for sharing.

    • July 8, 2013 at 2:34 pm

      Hi Rodney,
      Thanks for reading/commenting! I think a starting point with admin would be the sharing factor. Share with them, ask them to share…allow for opportunities for others to shine! Empower your staff… George also had a great point that you don’t have to “pay” for PD presenters, utilize who you have!


  7. July 7, 2013 at 3:40 pm

    When we bring our light and energy together, our glow continues to grow. I think the next step beyond sharing is increasing our collaboration. Blogging and commenting are important first steps, but next we must consider how we can engage one another as co-learners across time, space, districts and countries. How will we become co-learners with teachers in our boards and with each other to form a larger collective? Let us look to the future and look to moving beyond sharing to even higher levels of cooperation. Let’s move from cooperation to collaboration, from dancing together to a flash mob.

    • July 8, 2013 at 2:35 pm

      Michelle, I will flashmob with you ANYday!

  8. July 7, 2013 at 4:01 pm

    Great post, Amber. As a classroom teacher, it is always inspiring and encouraging to hear from our leaders in their visions & expectations- not just for us, as teachers, or our school, but also vision for their own learning.

    • July 8, 2013 at 2:36 pm

      Thanks for reading/commenting Summer! 🙂


  9. Kenn Wathen
    July 8, 2013 at 4:19 pm

    Thanks for the reminder to forget waiting until we think we can do something perfectly and just step out and do it. We will work the kinks out and we can learn as we go. Much appreciated.

  10. Suzanne Rogers
    July 9, 2013 at 2:44 pm

    Thank you for honestly sharing your thoughts on leadership. Together we are mighty! We should all begin to think of the educational world as a team rather than independent individuals.

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