It is a privilege to be attending the ISTE Leadership Forum this year and to be part of two Digital Age Leadership discussions: Educational Leadership in Dynamic Learning Environments and Understanding and Leading the Digital Age Learning Culture. The forum got off to a great start this afternoon with Chris Lehmann’s keynote. I visited Chris’s school, the Science Leadership Academy, during an EduCon event a few years back and was very impressed I have heard Chris speak at a few ISTE events and was looking forward to hearing him today. I Tweeted today’s keynote and want to expand some of those thoughts beyond 140 characters! The following are my thoughts based on some of Chris’ points:
- Schools belong to our democratic ideals rather than our capitalistic ideals – I love that Chris took us back to this basic premise Think about it, why would we tax ourselves to build these things called schools if it wasn’t important for society that children be educated? This idea goes back to the Founding Fathers. Thomas Jefferson once said “…wherever the people are well informed they can be trusted with their own government…”
- Change the way teachers talk. Instead of saying “I teach math,” one should say “I teach children math.” This brings me back to one of my pre-service classes with Professor Ron Savage. He went around the classroom asking us what we would teach and we answered predictably with “history, physical education, English, etc.” Dr. Savage corrected us all and let us know we would be teaching students, not academic subjects.
- Technology should make us more human, not less human. Absolutely! Before you bemoan students texting, posting to Facebook and Tweeting, think about how great it is that they are communicating! Do you think my friends and I put our personal thoughts into words and shared them on a daily basis back in the “dark ages” of the 1970’s? You can be sure we didn’t. In many ways kids are more connected today than ever!
- A vision without a plan is a hallucination. I am so glad to hear Chris say this. This Leadership Forum is designed to have teams come away with a plan for integrating technology and I hope every team forces itself to write a doable plan that has traction. We should be asking ourselves what we will actually do in our schools tomorrow to better integrate technology. Talk without a plan is just that, talk.
- Every school has something it does well…build on that. This explains the previous point a little bit more and reminds us that we are not cookie cutter schools. You might read about or visit a school that is really hitting it out of the park with technology integration. But don’t think you can just take those ideas and force them upon your own school like a square peg in a round hole. Instead, take the kernel of those good ideas and work with your school community build upon what you are already doing well. Success breeds more success and lessens our natural fear of change.
Chris’ keynote was a great start to ISTE’s Leadership Forum. I can’t wait for the work to begin tomorrow!