“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
As I have tried to continuously grow and learn in my own practice, I have started to see some real shifts in the way things are happening within our own school division. As schools continue to leverage technologies, we are seeing a truer and wider range of collaboration, that is leading to more of a “flat organization”, where leadership is truly distributed.
Spending time on Twitter and networking with many amazing educators, you see this idea there every day. Although every person I connect with has some role in education, the positions really don’t matter. Yes there are people with more or less followers, but in reality, that has nothing to do with position. It usually has to do with not only the message they share, but how they share it as well. Whether you are a superintendent, teacher, student, principal, or whatever, you see people learning and sharing with each other. Although I believe it is important to also connect with others in your role or that share your interests, the idea that stands out for me is that we can learn from anyone. Twitter has been great for this but have we been mirroring that in schools?
This year, within Parkland School Division, we have been trying to utilize technology and social media to connect with all stakeholders and be very transparent in our learning. Our superintendent recently wrote a post about the vision of our schools and the continuous development of that vision. Doing this in a blog and being open to feedback is something that I really believe is important and needed in our schools. If we have technology to do this, why wouldn’t we?
Although I really believe in the power of connecting with staff, I was overwhelmed with what I saw recently on our school division’s 184 project (modeled after the Edu180Atl project). When Taylor, a student in our school division, made the first student post to the project, it was amazing how adults came together in the division to respond to the work that was done. The comments were not limited to teachers from Taylor’s school, but educators, in all different positions, spanning across the entire range of our school division. When it came to a student, people ensured that they made time to encourage their work. This was now a priority. I have always believed this to be the case with educators, their continuous dedication to all of our kids, but it was just reinforced through the post and process. This project is something new to our division, but it has already helped bridge some of the obstacles that are unfortunately created by geography. Everyday it seems we are taking one step forward.
In this whole process, I am seeing technology proving to be more than just a tool. It is transcending the way we do and think about things. The idea of learning anywhere, any place, any time is not just for the students; this is for all of us. These opportunities did not exist to the extent they do now and I see (hopefully I am not overly optimistic) our school division coming together as a learning organization more every day. I feel that when you know that you can connect this way but ignore it, it could be ultimately detrimental to the success of an organization.
The more we can all be in on the learning of any and every student, the better. We need to take advantage.