Modeling Leadership

@onealchris on Twitter

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5 Quick Challenges to School Leaders

*Model technologies appropriately (see below)
*Reflect more deeply about technology use
*Prepare for tech (and other) staff development differently
*Rethink classroom-level digital equity
*Be an active member of a professional learning community enhanced by technology - be sure to check up on the Connected Principals network.

Reconsidering Staff Meetings?

Do you lead by example? Teachers and other instructional staff look to you to demonstrate a commitment to technology and ongoing instructional improvement through efforts that make sense for your role. Leaders are expected to define the expectations for technology use across the board. But, sometimes it's a great idea to just have some fun with technology and lighten the mood a bit! Below are some techniques and tools that are easily structured into staff meetings, departmental meetings, etc. Principals and other technology leaders can partner with a technology coach or integration specialist to co-deliver professional development and team engagement in meaningful ways.

Here are some examples for a few easy and effective professional development opportunities in which you model appropriate technology use by demonstrating it in an authentic way.

1. Model a Google Form ( as an easy way to collect and use data for the school or district. Here's a sample.
  • You need to build consensus because your school vision is out of whack. Do you and your teachers define "engaged student" in a similar way? Or, do you suspect that some teachers' definition of engagement is way off track with others?
  • Demonstrate how to create and use a Google Form (Google Forms help is here).
  • Brainstorm with teachers to submit the words they would use to define what an engaged student looks like.
  • Discuss the results. Ask for clarity when people submit words that sound unique.
  • School leaders definitely need to know Google Drive (Google Apps) - here are lots of tips.

2. As a follow up to the Google Form "student engagement" meeting, demonstrate Wordle or some other word-cloud tool, by making a word wall of those student-engagement words
  • Make sure you discuss about the importance of visual cues to student reading, and so on.
  • Demonstrate how teachers can take a text-heavy passage, and make a Wordle from it, to give students some visual indication as to the theme of the passage.
  • Use the resulting Wordle graphic from your student-engagement example as a visual display of your teachers' input. Talk about and demonstrate other unique uses for Wordle.
  • Print the image as a large poster for the school, and use as a graphic reminder for what the faculty has defined as student engagement.

3. "Flip" your staff meetings. If you're going to be talking about the use of school data, or motivating reluctant middle schoolers, for example, ask teachers to help find 2 or 3 good resources to share with faculty ahead of time to set the stage or provide the basic background.
  • Once those are identified, ask teachers to watch/read them prior to coming to the staff meeting.
  • Give them specific prompts to look for in the videos or readings. Consider using Diigo or some other organizational tool to keep track of and annotate specific readings.
  • Even better, record your own short video or Hangout for them to watch.
  • At staff meeting time, focus on the meatier parts of the conversations - what will we do with this new information? How might we balance already-thin time in the classroom?

4. Use Social Media as a way to extend and enrich conversations, and enhance (or take the place of) the traditional after-school meeting
  • Use a staff meeting to discuss the benefits of social media, agree upon hashtags, demonstrate the speed/efficiency of finding resources.
  • Plan ahead and have some Twitter friends be ready for a specific time to join you in the conversation.
  • Set up your own Twitter hashtag either for an impromptu length of time for this topic, or to use whenever you and colleagues tweet about your school.
  • Instead of holding an after-school staff meeting, pick a topic for social media conversations that week - have your staff meeting in little "chunks" throughout the week instead of after school.

5. Use Google Hangout (or Skype or Facetime) to pipe in a guest speaker:
  • Use a staff meeting wisely by having a guest/expert/friend to speak to your staff.
  • Find a former student! It's never been easier to locate people using social media. So, why not have a former student talk to your staff? She/he can talk about how technology is being used, life in the "real world," etc.
  • You want teachers to be able to think about making use of a variety of technology resources - some schools even get former students to speak!

6. Be an efficient user of technology and share what you're doing. Always explain what you're doing/what you're up to, so people make appropriate connections.
  • Become a "mobile admin" by getting your Tablet/Smart Phone in tip-top shape for efficiency.
    • Use Evernote to keep your notes/pics/meeting minutes organized - go paperless.
    • Do your classroom observations from a mobile device.
    • Use your phone/tablet to take photos of great things you see.
  • Spend some time asking your high-tech teachers or tech coaches how the school is doing with Google Drive implementation (for example). If you're "all over the place" then postpone a few schoolwide staff meetings while you help lead a team toward efficient use of this tool. When you've got a plan, assemble the staff and demo how you've got the tool all in sync!
  • P.S. - Do your own setup for staff meetings - laptop to projector, speakers to ipad, etc.

7. Demonstrate a model lesson with a basic digital story on a topic specific to your school's needs:
  • Demonstrate a technology you want teachers to use by proving to them that it's not as hard as it may sound.
    • I suggest Storybird for web-based digital story creation, or maybe Animoto for short videos
    • Are you a fan of QR codes? Set some up throughout the week as part of a staff-meeting scavenger hunt.
  • Be certain you focus the use of this technology in an area that makes sense for your school, based on the school's vision or need.
  • Create/demo the tool with the whole faculty, and make it a brief and interactive staff meeting in which you explain why you chose the tool, how you matched it to a true content/data need, and why you think it's worthy of teachers' time!

8. Engage the staff in a hot-topic, technology-oriented conversation relevant to your building (safety, copyright, project-based learning, etc.):
  • This is an opportunity to make sure that all staff understands an issue, and understands the official district stance on this issue.
  • Have a frank conversation about Digital Equity in your building.
  • Creative Commons, for example, is an effort that can help keep a school safe in regard to its legal use of media from the Internet.
  • Use one of the Creative Commons template presentations to provide an overview.

9. Faculty-Meeting App Smackdown
  • Of course we all constantly share classroom apps, but why not a "Busy Parent App Smackdown" for your teachers one afternoon? Teachers submit their top 3 apps to you via a Google Form.
  • Collect them all in a list and share via social media.
  • Prior to the meeting, make sure teachers bring their own devices, prepared to hook up to the projector for a 3-minute demo.
  • Give away a few $10.00 itunes (or Google App store, etc.) gift cards at that meeting!

10. Take your staff on a virtual field trip - consider handling the usual minutiae of traditional staff meetings elsewhere (email, social media) and, instead, broaden the horizons of the staff.
  • Who says staff meetings have to always be about school data, or policies, or time management?
  • Pick a fun virtual field trip and just have some down time to talk vacations or bucket lists!
  • Talk about classroom implications of using Google's "Connected Classroom" or any of the other dozens of great virtual field trips.
  • Visit Critter Cams - watch them for a few minutes then talk about the possibilities of extending classroom activities.

Other Resources:
Connected Principals’ Network