Sunday, December 2, 2007

The Timing, You Know?

Just as I am entering full-on anxiety mode, along comes Tracy Weeks's post at LeaderTalk. Tomorrow is my official start date as Director of Curriculum for Humanities. Notice I capitalized that. I don't think I've ever had a job title that needed to be capitalized before.

I've been thinking about what to expect as I make this transition, and I will admit, there is a lot of apprehension in changing roles; I've never known a job that was as diverse and challenging as the one I am leaving. What this next one holds, I don't fully know, but the glimpses I have seen in the last few days show me that the stakes are higher, the responsibilities greater, and challenges more complex than any I have ever known. I've never been one to shy away from things that are difficult, and I have to say I am excited for the challenge.

Things do worry me, though. For example, the idea of change has been on that I've bandied about on this blog for a while now. How do you effectively institute it without alienating those that fear it most? And several of us have spoken in the past that people in the field of education have an odd relationship with change. For the most part, we see it as arbitrary, and often hitched to political agenda.

What I learned so well from being immersed in, for lack of a better term, "all things 2.0" over the last year and a half, is that this change we immersed in did not come as a mandate from some overarching political edict. Rather, just the opposite. It has come from the needs of our students, and the desires of some extremely talented teachers who want to reach them with undeniably meaningful and timely lessons using sound pedagogy combined with new tools.

So I look at tomorrow morning with apprehension, but also renewed excitement, as I will take with me the skill set that I have honed up until this point in my career. Tracy spoke of a few things that I really liked, and plan to carry over in some way to my new role:

Being the Change
Tracy talks about using tools with people rather than just showing or telling about the tools. This idea is one I plan to implement as I will be involved in so many projects and groups and committees that keeping track of them will be daunting. Putting my theory into practice by using a wiki for organization, or really trying Google Groups to keep members up to speed will show how willing I am to push the "change" agenda forward, and do so with results in my own practice.

Leading and Learning by Example
One of the greatest by-products of my time as technology coordinator was how closely I was able to examine my own learning. The outcome of that introspection has helped me see the kinds of things that Will Richardson has been talking about for quite a while: teachers and administrators need to look at how they learn, just as they need to look at how their students learn. Getting teachers and administrators to come together to discuss how professional development is changing is a goal of mine, one that I have begun on our district blog, Tech Dossier, but would like to see spill over into what Tracy calls "Lunch n' Learns." When you get administrators and the teachers that work with them to the same table to discuss how things are changing, or the ideas that they have for working with students, or how to expand the walls of the classroom (or better, knock them down completely), you get honest change, and you get hope.

We'll see how this goes. I know this is going to be transformative, and that my life will change dramatically as of tomorrow morning, but this is the right move. This is the direction my head has been going for a while anyway. Wish me luck.

Photo Credit: "Sidewalk Philosophy," from babasteve's photostream

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Carolyn Foote said...


Good luck, and keep us posted on how it goes!

I think it's going to be a great thing for your district.

And as I've done more "school wide" staff development this year, it's become clear to me how challenging it is, to try to reflect good practices, while working with all teachers, not just "voluntary" participants. So I wish you well but know you'll do an excellent and thoughtful job of meeting these challenges.

NJTechTeacher said...


My best wishes in your new job. You have the right idea. Rather than evangelizing the tools, introduce the tools and get people used to working with them.

I'm looking forward to reading your blog and seeing what you try and how it goes. It can be a good scary to try something new.


diane said...


You are a poster child for leading by example.

Making these tech tools a part of the daily school routine will do more to encourage their use than 10 PD days!

Good luck - though you won't really need luck, just your well-honed skills and talents.


Patrick Higgins said...


Thank you for your well wishes and kind words. The "best practices" model of using technology is something that we should really explore more. I see that Karl Fisch is beginning something like that in his schools, and well, I am not ashamed to follow the lead of someone else once in a while.

I will keep you posted and great job moderating the skypecast the other day. Was it recorded?

Patrick Higgins said...


Trying to now figure out how to use these tools in my practice will be an adventure in itself, but there is so much out there, and so much you can do within creative constraints, that I am sure it will be a blast. Allowing people to see that we are risk-takers and including them on the risk-taking will go a long way towards decreasing their fear and increasing their involvement in the change process.

Patrick Higgins said...


You are too kind. No doubt that I will be leaning heavily on our network to figure out the best uses for this or that tool.

Enjoy the weather!

Scott McLeod said...

Welcome to the Big Time! Your capitalized career has begun!

A hearty congrats. Maybe this will help your transition?

If not that, maybe this?

alexragone said...


Congrats. I look forward to reading along with your updates.

- Alex

Patrick Higgins said...

Scott and Alex,

I appreciate your support, and if this week is any indication, posting is going to be a difficult thing to schedule.

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