Friday, August 17, 2007

Difficult Questions Expected

Back in the late spring, when I submitted my summer slate of professional development classes I added one that wasn't available to teachers, only administrators. Lacking a better name, I called it Administrator 2.0. This was the first time I had done this, and as it turns out, our assistant superintendent has made it mandatory for all of the administrators in our district. This I am thrilled about.

Reading collaborative blogs like LeaderTalk really pushed this idea along, as I realized that the movement to change the definition of literacy and transform our pedagogy was also being joined by educational leaders at the administrator level. For any movement to gain credence, even with teachers, a dynamic, present, and informed leader must aide in that journey.

Here is the blurb I created for the class back in June:

What makes administrators effective technology leaders? Do we need to be immersed in technology in order to promote its pedagogical resources within our buildings? While we all might consider ourselves to be at least proficient in various applications of technology, the pace with which it advances is unprecedented, meaning that our knowledge base must increase as well. Also, emerging social applications like MySpace and Facebook for middle and high school students, and Club Penguin for elementary school children have left a lot of us in the dark as to what our students are doing online and why they feel the need to connect in such a way.
Since then, I have added some aspects of personal productivity, like using RSS and aggregation, using blogs as a means to communicate to staff and connect to the scores of professional development available in the blogosphere. In reflecting on what I want them to leave with, I remembered Scott McLeod's advice for working with school administrators in workshops like this:

  1. Change their mindset.
  2. Have a keen understanding of their work.
  3. Ensure that training is authentic.
  4. Make it easy for them to learn.
  5. Make their lives easier.
  6. Tap into what they already know.
  7. Address their concerns about the rate of change.
  8. Comply with what we know about effective professional development.
  9. Respect their time.
  10. focus on leadership, not tools.
  11. remind them of the importance and power of modeling.

I love number 9, because it identifies the pressure I feel in this situation; it's the end of the summer, school is beginning in a week, and here they are, "stuck" in a mandatory workshop. I need to give them much more than a make and take, I need to identify what their roles are and create the content with that in mind. This has to be relevant to them.

Has anyone ever run something like this before? Or better yet, has any administrator gone through something like this? I would love feedback as I prepare.

Also, I would love to skype (provided it behaves) a few administrators and teachers in to the session for a brief chat to address questions and discuss what you are doing in your schools to address change. Also, what really would impact this group would be a focus on student outcomes.

I am pjhiggins1 on Skype.

Image credit: Hamed Saber via Flickr.


Tom Haskins said...

I concur with Scott's list of recommendations. To that I would add utilizing a pre-emptive strike to the Administrators possible objections.
For example:
If this sounds like giving you problems, I recommend rejecting it out of hand. If it seems like it solves some of the problems you're facing, let's see if this becomes useful to you.
If this is putting more on your plate, feel free to wring your hands and shake your head in despair as we cover this topic. If it's giving you ways to take some issues off your mind, then what's on your mind is part of the content for us.
If this seems to you like a briefing on technology, leave your cell phones on. If this appears to be helping you with your leadership role, credibility in your position and understanding of those you lead, you may want to at least silence the ringer on your phones.

Barbara said...

Patrick- as always i enjoy reading your blog! I have tagged you with a meme that came in while I was on vacation...