Yesterday was a particularly busy day for me. In the midst of interviewing candidates for an open vice principal position, calling prospective teachers, and going through mounds of paperwork I managed to make the time to video conference with administrators and educational stakeholders in Virginia, Iowa, New York, and Florida. Let me begin by saying that I was absolutely honored that various members of my Professional Learning Network (PLN) and the greater educational community reached out to me to address administrators looking to embrace social media, plan an educational technology conference at my school, and discuss leadership in the digital age.
Speaking to administrators who are skeptical about utilizing social media is something that I am extremely passionate about. A little over a year ago I was in their shoes, but worse. I blocked sites and banned mobile devices to such an extreme. The scary part about this is that I really thought I was doing what was best for my students and staff. Boy was I wrong!
Obviously my views and actions have changed dramatically. After becoming educated and seeing the error in my ways, I have now become an advocate of empowering educators to effectively integrate technology combined with best instructional practices. This being said, each chance I get to discuss my transformation in this area with skeptical administrators I jump on the opportunity. Why I do this is simple. I now have the confidence to clearly articulate how social media has enabled me to become a more effective and efficient administrator in many areas. I stress the fact that this phenomenon is not going away and is a major component in the lives of today’s society. As educational leaders we should be modeling, supporting, and collaborating with our respective staffs to create a vibrant school culture that fosters risk-taking and innovation. Learning environments that are structured in such a way will not only help students think critically, problem solve, and master the content, but also teach them how to be digitally responsible.
There is another important reason why I make time to speak with other administrators who are considering harnessing the power of social media tools. I NEED THEM TOO!!!! It is depressing when I look around in my own state and others and notice the lack of an administrative presence in the world of social media and other areas of educational technology leadership for that matter. What can I do to help change this? Maybe my fellow principal buddies such as George Couros, Patrick Larkin, Chris Lehmann, Deron Durflinger, or Dave Meister can help me out with this one? There are all doing their part to build momentum in this area.
I have so much to learn about educational leadership and facilitating sustainable change. What better way to learn than from experienced leaders in the trenches that can share their knowledge, strategies, successes, and failures? This is how I learn best. I need their help, support, ideas, and advice on all aspects of educational leadership, not educational technology. I want and need to become better. Together we can all collaborate to grow, lead more effectively, and move towards substantive reform. Does this make sense?
In my discussions with administrators I discuss what I have found to be the five facets of social media that truly assist educational leaders to become more effective and efficient. I have blogged about these over the past couple months and will either provide brief descriptions or links to past posts. They are as follows:
1. 1. Communication: Effective communication is one of the most important characteristics associated with successful leaders. Social media provides free tools to enhance public relations, celebrate student/staff accomplishments, and keep all stakeholders informed 24/7. Blogging is one of the best tools available to aid in communication. Here are some other ideas. Twitter has been a phenomenal tool to improve school communications. Within minutes of creating a school Twitter account (@NewMilfordHS) I began sending out information "tweets". The ease of getting information out quickly out there has been quite convincing. To get that same information on our traditional website would have taken a week’s worth of emails and action by two or three different staff members. 2. 2. Branding: When updating our school Facebook page or sending out a message on Twitter I often include a direct link back to our school’s main website and our school’s colors, mascot and logo. This makes our pages stand out to viewers and establishes a brand presence. People know who we are because I took the time to fill out that basic information.
3. 3. Professional Development/Growth: Educators now have access to relevant, meaningful resources that are available as needed. We can now connect with experts in a variety of fields of study, pick their brains, strategize, and receive feedback like never before. The best of all is that we can do this from our office, home, or on the go with mobile devices during times that are convenient for us.
4. Opportunity: Social media has allowed me to forge strategic partnerships where my school has received free technology, all-expense paid travel for my on my teachers to visit schools in Israel, and multiple opportunities to extensively promote the happenings at my school. THere is some more detailed information in this post.
5. 5. Collaboration: This is such an exciting time to be in education as we now have the ability to connect on a global scale. This not only does wonders for our own learning but also really sets the stage for developing authentic experiences for our students.
Doing my part to encourage other administrators to embrace social media in ways that will work for them is one way I try to build momentum for leadership in the digital age. I’ll save my thoughts on organizing a major EdTech event at my school for another day.
Thank you to Lisa Nielsen for motivating me to write this post!