“The question isn’t whether you will be transparent, authentic, and real, but rather, how much you will let go and be open in the face of new technologies.” Charlene Li, Open Leadership
Currently, I have the tremendous opportunity to work with school and district based administrators in Alberta on a cohort entitled, “The Networked Educational Leader” (follow the #netleader hashtag if you are on Twitter). The idea behind the group is that they will be guided to connect and network with other educators around the world. This can be a very daunting task and I was lucky enough to have someone mentor me in my journey, so I am happily returning the favour through these sessions.
As we finished our first “face-to-face” session in Calgary last week, I had the opportunity to just sit and talk with a few administrators about some of the challenges that we face in our schools in Alberta. I was lucky to have this opportunity as there are approximately 300 kilometers between us, so these opportunities to connect in person are not there as much as I would like. I did however really appreciate this conversation and really felt this longing to connect with administrators that deal with a lot of the same things that I do within Alberta. I also appreciated the opportunity to recently attend an admin retreat with my own school division, and just be able to sit with my colleagues and ask questions. It was really inspiring.
The reality of this though is that we just do not have the time to connect with other administrators within these meetings as much as we would like. Meetings are something that we all deal with on a continuous basis, and the opportunity to just talk with one another does not happen in this setting very often. That does not mean we do not have to connect though; we just have to change the setting.
I have been continuously inspired by my global colleagues on the Connected Principals website, and their openness to sharing their ideas and learning. It has been absolutely amazing learning from them and their experiences in their own schools. Although there are several posts and a lot of content on the site, as we learn to filter for our own school needs, there is definite benefit in this continuous conversation:
“good ideas are more likely to emerge in environments that contain a certain amount of noise and error.” Stephen Johnson, Where Good Ideas Come From
What I have noticed from these connections is that many of these administrators have seen the value in these global connections, and worked with administrators in their own areas to build these local connections. I have used information in my presentations locally from Patrick Larkin, Dave Meister, Lyn Hilt, Shannon Smith, and Eric Sheninger, who all openly share their work (I probably missed several of you) in their pursuit to connect their colleagues. Through this sharing, I have found some of the best ideas to share with Alberta educators:
“This is not the wisdom of the crowd, but the wisdom of someone in the crowd. It’s not that the network itself is smart; it’s that the individuals get smarter because they’re connected to the network.” Stephen Johnson, Where Good Ideas Come From
As many of us have found this great opportunity to connect with educators all over the globe, we have to start bringing these ideas home and helping others to connect. I have greatly valued the learning I have shared with others all over the world, which now has actually created a greater thirst to connect with people in my own backyard. We are all teachers, and we live busy lives. Using social media to connect with us gives us the opportunity to learn from each other at a time and place (sounds like a good idea for our kids doesn’t it?) that is convenient to our own lives. As we begin increasingly see the value in our learning from our global counterparts, let’s ensure that we create opportunities to connect to the wisdom of our neighbours.
“…we are often better served by connecting ideas than we are by protecting them.” Stephen Johnson, Where Good Ideas Come From