I was given the great opportunity to teach a summer course at AFT-WV’s summer camp for teachers. I chose to teach a course on digital leadership. Digital leadership is not just one thing and it’s certainly not just technology. I modeled the course after Eric Sheninger’s book titled Digital Leadership: Changing Paradigms for Changing Times. I chose to focus the first two days on the pillars of professional growth & development and communication. I have tried hard to stray from the typical presenter-based format and simply share my resources and engage the participants in conversations aimed at reflecting on our current practices. It didn’t take long for the group to agree that the impact that technology has had on society is tremendous. We acknowledged the pace of change in technology is so rapid that it’s nearly impossible to keep up. This causes tremendous challenges for schools as they try to adjust, adapt, and transform to remain relevant institutions of learning. We began to accept that if educators are relying solely on their school and/or district to provide opportunities for growth and development, it’s simply not enough. Regardless of how effective those opportunities are, the task is simply too tall for any school or district to meet. As a result, students are beginning to get further and further disconnected from the environments that many educators can provide inside their classrooms. It is time for educators to take control of their own learning and arm themselves with consistent give and take of communication, collaboration, acquiring resources, eliciting feedback, and sharing ideas, data, strategies, and information.
In the last two days educators in the course have been exposed to Twitter and how it is an effective tool to build a powerful professional learning network. We also tackled the pillar of communication. We were so fortunate to have 3 principals meet with us via Google Hangout and share how technology has transformed communication at their schools. Donald Gately (donald_gately) is the principal at Jericho Middle School in New York. Donald shared about how effective his video newsletters have been at communicating the awesome things going on in his school building. Donald has been a vital part of my PLN and I value that things he’s been able to share. Craig Vroom (@vroom6) is the principal at Hilliard Weaver Middle School in Ohio. Craig was attending a conference in Cincinnati but literally stepped out of the conference and connected with us via his smartphone in order to share for a few minutes the impact that technology has played on communication, as well as the impact it’s had on his professional growth and development. I’m so grateful of the impact Craig has had on my own practice thus far. What an incredible statement was made by his sacrifice to spend a few minutes joining our class and exposing the participants to such excellent models of digital leadership. Later in the day, Bobby Dodd (bobby__dodd) joined us to share what technology has done for communication at his school. Bobby is the principal at New Lexington High School in Ohio but will be moving to Lincoln Gahanna High School this coming school year. Bobby provided our participants an insight into the impacts he’s made on a community not unlike the ones represented in my course. Many of our participants come from rural communities where broadband access is not afforded to everyone and sometimes computers don’t exist in every home. Bobby shared ways that his school is able to implement effective solutions despite these challenges. I really enjoyed Bobby sharing about how his school partnered with several community businesses to provide free unrestricted wifi at their locations.
I’ll be sharing the resources and presentations created throughout this course. Each of my presentations have been given a URL address that has been accessed by all the participants this week. I’ve encouraged them to save those resources and share them as they see a need. A tremendous community of change agents has been developed in such a small amount of time. I’ll be writing later about the supports we’ve put in place to continue the learning beyond these few days. More about the digital leadership WV summer learning series later