I wasn’t there, but I was CONNECTED

I wasn’t there. In fact, I was almost literally half-way around the world. It happened at the ISTE conference in Philadelphia, and I’m in Dalian, China. The session was called: What Does it Mean to Be a Tech-Savvy Principal?

I followed along on the #cpchat and on a tool called TodaysMeet, but I commented that I wish I could listen in too. It wasn’t long before Suzie Nestico obliged. She sent me a message with her skype address, (she is in my PLN, but we were not connected on Skype), and moments later I had my earphones in listening to the conversation.

I’ve spoken to, learned from and even asked for help from the Connected Principals on the panel: Lyn, Patrick, Eric, George, and Brian. I’ve also been on a panel with moderator Scott McLeod, a couple weeks ago, although that one was virtual.

So, I listened and I learned:

“It is not just a tech savvy admin, but the building of teacher leaders that’s needed to become innovative.”

“Let professionals be professionals- good leaders let teachers take the lead and grow.”

“Teachers must be the partners in learning. Let the students use the ‘stuff’.”

“Go with the willing but model for the reluctant or rather the “apprehensive” staff.

“…support teachers learning one item at a time.”

“Not only is it about innovative leaders, it is about leadership in a student centered school.”

“Bad tech leadership? Tools with no training, direction or support.”

“Leadership needs to communicate, collaborate, and create using the technology they expect the teachers to use.”

“Be a learner first. That’s where we want every adult and child in the school to be, so model it from the top!”

“It’s about learning. We need to help teachers understand this is the same for them as it is for the students.”

“I don’t want to see teacher using tech every time I walk in room. I want to see tech in hands of students.”

“Do your schools have a technology integration group made up of teachers, admin, and students that make decisions about learning?”

“Observing for appropriate tech use in a classroom: 1. Tied into learning, 2. High engagement, 3. Assessment considered.”

“It’s not so much about teaching teachers to use the technology, it’s about changing the classroom pedagogy.”

“Manage the present, create the future, and carry the vision. Most leaders get caught up managing the present.”


Think about it… I just ‘sat in’ on a conference on the other side of the world; Connected with people in my network that I’ve never met face-to-face; Engaged with them, added to the digital conversation; Learned from them; And now I’m sharing their wisdom.

It cost me an hour of my time (and another 45 to share this with you now). It’s already going to influence how I handle a meeting with teachers tomorrow. This is the power of being a connected principal.

I’m not connected all the time. In fact I’ve basically been ‘absent’ from connecting to these people for about a month now… It has been an unusually busy June for me. But I’ll come back again and again… it’s worth the time. It’s something to make time for.

No one is too busy to learn, and my network gives me far more than I give back… no matter how hard I try. And they give back even when I have a busy month and I don’t try. If you don’t make the time to be a connected principal, then you are missing out on an opportunity, not an obligation.

[Cross posted on David Truss :: Pair-a-Dimes for Your Thoughts]


  1. Eric Juli said:


    I also haven’t connected with my Connected Principals colleagues recently. A new baby and other life changes have certainly cut into my online time. But your post and all the great quotes therein remind me of how much I have learned from my PLN and the connected principals. I also agree that I get so much more from them than I could ever give.

    Thanks for sharing these thought provoking quotes and for the reminder about the importance of connecting.


    June 28, 2011
  2. I *was* physically present in this session and I have to say, your recap is as good as if you were actually there. Fantastic summary of the content and an excellent example of how well virtual learning can work. Thanks for sharing.

    June 28, 2011
  3. David, great example of how people don’t need to be physically present to learn. It also shows the power of connections in a pln. Hard to believe that iste (formerly necc) used to be such a closed conference.

    June 28, 2011
  4. Jeff Johnson said:

    Excellent post! I’ve long known that instructional leadership is a critical – perhaps THE key – to effective development of information and technology literacy skills in schools. We’ve got stuff. We’ve got connectivity. We’ve got bandwidth. What we sorely lack are leaders (mostly admin leaders but also teacher leaders) that see the big picture and have the savvy to restrtructure learning environments for today’s realities. We not only need to look at classroom practice but the very structure of the school day and the school year, both of which are archaic, outmoded and counterprodutive to the needs of students and teacher development in most schools. The time for incremental change has passed. We need wholesale reinvention of schools and schooling now!

    June 28, 2011
  5. David Truss said:

    Thanks for the comments!

    Today I head off to spend my last day of the school year with my teachers before they head off for the summer. Then I spend a few more days preparing to leave the school, and leave China, for new adventures back home in Canada. Things have been too busy to participate in ISTE, even from a distance, so I’m really glad that I had this opportunity to listen in, learn, and then share.

    Nicely worded. In a post back in October I said,
    When I think about changes in schools, I want to believe that we can implement structural changes that encourage our teachers to be better, by design of those changes, not in spite of them. I want to believe that we can’t complain about a broken model and then try to fit a new plan into the same model.
    I think you’ll find that post relevant to your comment, as well as this continuation of some of the same thoughts that I shared here on CP about the Finnish Model: “Less is more. Teach less, learn more.” http://connectedp.wpengine.com/archives/2164
    There are some great challenges… and great opportunities ahead! I’m excited to see what some of the more progressive, imaginative school leaders will do with teacher and student timetables as we move towards more open, blended learning: http://www.scoop.it/t/shifting-learning

    June 28, 2011
  6. I really enjoyed reading your post. I think it is wonderful to know that one does not have to be physically in a place to be interactive with their colleagues and others around the world. I personally have experience with connecting to people in other states and cities. I used Ovoo and Skype to connect with my cousins and help them with their homework. This was a very beneficial way to explain problems to them and answer their questions without actually being their in their presence.

    Great Post

    Kashondra Rudolph

    June 29, 2011

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