MyNotes – Digital Leadership 2: Why Schools Must Change

Note: Over the next few weeks, I’ll be reading Eric Scheninger‘s book, Digital Leadership. Eric was kind enough to send me a copy and I’ll be sharing my notes and thoughts as I work my way through it. I’m honored that Eric sent me a print copy to read and share my thoughts on. Comments in square brackets are mine, the rest is the author’s.


MyNotes – Chapter 2: Why Schools Must Change

  1. [In this chapter, the author explores the reasons why standardization resulted and how its lasting effect has a deleterious effect on teaching and learning.]
  2. “A focus on standardization narrows the curriculum and creates a teaching culture where creativity, exploration and critical thinking are scarce or non-existent.”
  3. It creates a culture that students disdain; one that can only be sustained with the use of “if-then” rewards or “carrots and sticks.”
  4. This entrenched system produces students who lack creativity, are fearful of failure, work extemely hard to follow directions and are leaving schools with obsolete skills in a postindustrial society.
  5. Schools focus on linear, sequential, left-brain thinking in a world that requires both left- and right-brain capabilities.
  6. Digital leadership is about establishing a vision and implementing a strategic process that creates a teaching and learning culture that provides students with essential skill sets: creativity, communication, collaboration, critical thinking, problem solving, technological proficiency and global awareness.
  7. Every sector, every job, every employee today has had to respond to twenty-first century changes, often because of new technologies [but teachers haven’t…and neither have central office staff who write curriculum for teachers to use in classrooms, perpetuating the issues].
  8. Failures:
  1. We build policy based on old paradigms
  2. Still work in silos
  3. Lack strategies to build consistent capacity to use new pedagogies and tools
  4. Fail to imagine a future that will substantively different than yesterday or today.
  • As leaders, we must question at every opportunity our commitment to sustaining practices that need to be abandoned for the sake of contemporary learners.
  • People live today in “a culture of participation plus technologies plus networks.” Examples:
    1. High school seniors in Pam’s district conversed via Skype with an Egyptologist in Cairo.
    2. Kindergarten children in 2 different schools explored J words in a lesson cotaught by teachers and educator from Michigan via Twitter.
    3. Commenting on first and third graders’ blogs
    4. Live broadcast of three schools’ winter orchestra concerts via Ustream.
  • A learner can end up in a state-of-the-art-school facility where pedagogy still remains command and control, driven by a one to some teaching model through curricula, assessment and instructional standardization minimize opportunities for young people to pursue interests, passions and possibilities.
  • Leaders must focus on solutions rather than problems.
    1. Succumbing to the negative rhetoric
    2. abiding by the status quo
    3. having a bunker mentality
  • Digital leadership emphasizes the need for current leaders to be catalysts to drive sustainable change that will transform school culture.
  • Every student can and should learn, and educators must learn how to push us [leaders] to become even better.
  • Strategic planning process:
    1. Why involves convincing all stakeholders why a school needs to change.
    2. What is the content of the change, built through a common focus.
    3. Where defines the location and direction.
    4. How is the process of change and involves determining how to change the school once people understand and embrace the why, what and where.
  • Encouraging a 21st Century pedagogy involves incorporating the four Cs:
    1. Creativity
    2. Communication
    3. Critical Thinking
    4. Collaboration
  • Leaders have to make concerted efforts to see where educational technology aligns well to the curriculum and pedagogy.
  • Expanding Evidence Approaches for Learning in a Digital World from USDOE…review the report and collaboratively revise your curriculum to incorporate the right technology to emphasize essential skills necessary for today’s learners to excel beyond the building walls.
  • Authentic problems provide a meaningful and relevant context for learning.
  • Through problem-based learning, students learn how to use an interative process of assessing what they know, identifying what they need to know, gathering information, and collaboration on the evaluation of hypotheses in light of the data they have collected (Stepien & Gallagher, 1993). [love the reference to problem-based learning]
  • Students are using technology to solve problems outside of school…
  • Great quote from Seth Godin (Linchpin, 2010):
    1. Every day I meet people who have so much to give but have been bullied enough or frightened enough to hold it back. It’s time to stop complying with the system and draw your own map. You have brilliance in you, your contribution is essential, and the art you create is precious. Only you can do it, and you must.
    2. Digital leadership is about inspiring students and teachers to think rather than follow rulebooks and ace tests…building a plan to lead schools differently in the digital age, and then doing something about it [emphasis mine].
  • Digital leadership is about discovering, recognizing and taking advantage of the many opportunities that the digital age presents…leaders have to be outliers to initiate and sustain the type of change needed in our schools.
  • The NASSP identified the following ten guidelines (only six are shown) to assist school leaders:
    1. Principals must effectively and consistently model the use of the same technology tools they expect teachers to use in their classrooms with the students.
    2. Principals must be consistent in their decisions and expectations about integrating learning technology in the school.
    3. The principal’s communication about the pace and process of integrating learning technology needs to be clear and resonable.
    4. The principal must provide appropriate professional development time and resources to support effective classroom implementation of technology.
    5. The principal must support early adopters and risk takers.
    6. The principal must do whatever it takes to ensure that all staff has early access to the very same digital tools that students will be using in their classrooms.
  • The author used UStream to share a funeral service to facilitate mourning by family members, as well as stream sessions at an event.
  • These examples prove the following:
    1. Technology increases engagement and serves as a conduit to endless possibilities that can enhance every facet of what we do in education.
    2. It is not a frivolous expense that is unworthy of the investments that many pretend it to be.
    3. How should we use technology available to us to improve what we do?
  • Digital leadership relies heavily on technology as a conduit for change.
  • Reflections
    Much of the changes the author shares in this chapter emphasizes the communication changes technology can facilitate.

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    Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

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