Leadership for change

Last week the ABEL program hosted the second Leadership Summit at York University.  The intent of the ABEL leadership summit was to gather system leaders together to focus their thinking about leadership for change in this day and age.  The impact of the day was impressive.  Conversations about system change were thoughtful and  explored how to best support education systems as they attempt to become move forward to effect 21st C change (for want of a better phrase).  It really makes me proud to be part of such a forward thinking group of leaders!

I was really impressed by Heidi Hayes-Jacobs’ presentation via Skype, not only was her message right on the money, but she also demonstrated very effective and engaging use of Skype as a videoconferencing/presentation technology.  (Something that is always important when we are promoting the effective use of ICT for educational purpose!)

All in all it was such a great day to connect with my virtual network, meet new leaders and plan forward for future learning and system reform advocacy and planning.  It was such a pleasure to work with such a committed group of system leaders.

End of a year, start of another….

The holiday season is always a time to reflect upon the past year.  The activities and accomplishments of the past year are always interesting to think about but it’s a great time to begin planning forward.  I have had a very busy fall working with educators across Ontario as they work to embed technology into their classroom practice as part of their daily practice.  Shifting from a paradigm of the technology “event” to effective learning that happens to use technology.  We have some wonderful educators in the province who are doing great things with their students every day.

The challenge is in moving our system leaders forward to ensure that we move from pockets of exemplary practice to school and system wide foci.  It’s difficult striking that balance between the data, the practice and the professional learning.  I honestly believe that we have to involve our system leaders, and classroom teachers in learning that looks like what learning should be in 2011.  Heck, we are ten years into the 21st century, what are we waiting for?

As educators we need to join the rest of the world.  Digital literacy isn’t really new, it’s literacy reflected in a variety of different media, if you are an educator in this day and age and don’t get this I’m a little worried.  21st century learning is now, not something to plan for, when do we stop referring to this like it is some rare breed of learning and just start engaging in it?  New media that we refer to isn’t so new, education is just slow to notice and embrace it.

I think this is an exciting time for learning, we have such easy access to information and such opportunity to shift learning so that students of all ages can participate and direct their learning needs.  It’s a shame that systems are so slow to change.  Yes, change is scary but it is inevitable so why not give it a shot?

The new year will bring me challenges and changes and I welcome them.  I look forward to my own learning in the coming year and can’t wait to share with all of learning colleagues.

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ASI2010: Creating my reflection now :)

ASI2010I had grand ideas back at ASI 2010.  Yup, I was going to blog every session and idea that occurred throughout the three days.  The one thing I forgot about was the fact that I was an MC on day one, and was presenting three different hands on sessions.  At the end of each day I was exhausted, exhiliarated but in no state to write a blog post!

Now reviewing my cryptic notes, and rethinking the three days I have time to reflect just a month later!  The bonus of being on the program committee is that we get to review the feedback and I have to say it was rewarding to see that our work on the conference was well received.  My intuitive response to how the three days progressed was a very positive one and the data supported my intuition.

All of our feedback indicated that our keynote speakers Alec Couros from University of Regina, Garfield Gini-Newman from OISE and Bill Muirhead from UOIT set the tone for the conference and each speaker built upon the learning introduced by the previous speaker.  We could not have asked for a better combination of speakers or such a positive response!

Things I need to review:  RIP:  A remix manifesto, Eric Whittacre’s crowdsourced music, Why I hate IWB article.

My favorite analogy:  Personalized Learning ….choosing your own adventure!

Need to think more about:  the changing role of the teacher, the need to customize and personalize our learning and the need to respect everyone’s learning needs.  Need to examine how power is shifting with just in time learning that is removing walls, changing the need for timetables and shifting/disrupting traditional visions of educational environments.

Reading about Leadership

I spent most of the afternoon sitting in the sunshine, reading in my garden.  Although, I am usually the one with the latest novel in her hand this time of year, I have been reading articles by Michael Fullan, excerpts from Douglas Reeves books and reflecting upon conversations I have been having with district leaders over the past few months.  I am always impressed when I seemed to be faced with a convergence of ideas and lately that has been happening from many different perspectives.

I think I am very fortunate to work in a district with both the vision and the leadership to move educators forwards towards a changing vision of classroom instruction.  One that reflects all of the ideas I have been reading about where Principals and Vice Principals are becoming effective Instructional Leaders, the development of Professional Learning Networks are beginning to make the classroom walls disappear.  It’s so great to hear educators have effective professional discourse about their classroom practice and see how school communities are reaching out to parents to help involve them in their child’s learning.

Now I am waiting to see our district take the next step, where we take all of this exemplary pedagogy and connect it to the multiple literacies of 21st Century learning.  Where our Professional Learning Networks move beyond district towards a self directed model of professional learning that all teachers engage in.  I can’t wait to see real learning be truly connected to schools again.  We are getting closer…..

It’s all about relationships…..

Today we started out with the TLCP cycle in the secondary panel and concluded with a presentation about the Equity and Inclusive Education Strategy.  Both important topics in leadership to ensure student success but really focused on two different areas of student well being.  The TLCP focused on improving the literacy levels of students and ensuring their success academically but the Equity and Inclusive strategy discussion focused on the social and emotional well being of all students.  Both have student well being at the heart of their goals and both are entirely dependant upon relationship building and understanding every person’s personal narrative.

It seems to me this is a recurring theme…..Michael Fullan speaks about the importance of building relationships when we hope to move educators forward towards a new model of thinking in the 21st century.  The leadership framework has a big section about relationship building and developing capacity of staff.  In fact he has a chapter entitled in his article “Leading in a Culture of Change”  entitled “Relationships, relationships, relationships!”  Obviously, the focus on effective leadership is on people.  Makes sense in a people organization.  However, the idea of balancing Instructional leadership, managerial responsibilities, relationship building, my own professional learning and keeping abreast of legal issues, policy updates and changes is quite daunting.

I know that we are all responsible and accountable for our actions as educators, but I worry about balancing this responsibility with personal life.  I’m not afraid of challenging work but I worry about letting the job consume me.  My colleagues refer to teaching as the “job that never stops”  if that is the case in a classroom, how can it not be intensified as an administrator?