“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” ~ Margaret Mead
As an instructional coach, one of my greatest joys is watching educators become empowered with new learning. This capacity building is a result of strong instructional leadership, focused goals, a commitment of shared learning, and a belief in themselves, each other, and student success.
Instructional Leadership – One layer of strong instructional leadership is, of course, the principal. As a staff learns a new strategy or how to incorporate technology into student learning, principals who engage in the practice and implementation themselves send a powerful message. What better way to show that you are the lead learner than to try out your new learning with students in classrooms! But, instructional leadership doesn’t stop with the principal. Each staff member is a leader of learning and if the goal of the school is empower and inspire learners, hence all staff members are instructional leaders!
Focused Goals – What do students need to be successful? What do educators need to contribute to students needs? Schools that link new learning to the needs of students bring on a win-win situation. As educators, ongoing learning should not be optional. Each student served brings unique needs. It is our job to meet those needs. No longer can we look at those needs just in terms of the areas where students struggle. Our world is changing, we need to be able to look into the future to determine needs they will encounter. This video, entitled “Our Future,” was recently shared by @Saskateach on Twitter. It provides a glimpse to some possibilities!
- “1st step to facilitating 21st century learning: YOU must connect with the learners, then connect the learners.”
- “2nd step to facilitate 21st century learning: Remember TECHNOLOGY is but a tool, humans NEED to connect with humans it is in our DNA.”
Both statements show the power of shared learning!
Connecting with learners comes in all forms from our classrooms, schools and beyond. Connecting learners brings about shared learning. Behind every Tweet, Blog, Wiki site, Wallwisher comment, YouTube video, etc… is a human being with something to share. Those of us using these tools are connecting are feeling the power. Its one thing to just share and another to have a brief dialogue with others about the topic/concept – even if it is merely a thank you or “retweet.” Both simple acts shows a connection has been made.
Our students need to be engaged in this form of sharing and collaborating as well. Many of us are seeing great things happen with our students’ writing when they are sharing their thoughts and getting feedback from others around the world. Comments4Kids is bringing authenticity to blogging! This weekend @Grade1 tweeted that her students had posted videos of themselves reading a piece of their writing. She was looking for others to provide meaningful feedback. This virtual Author’s Chair has the potential to provide yet another layer of authenticity and connecting learners.
Belief in Self, Others and Students – Perhaps you’ve heard of the story of how geese fly in formation and it is in this formation that they bring a spirit of interdependence! This lesson in leadership & in life comes to us from Robert McNeish, former Associate Superintendent of Baltimore Public Schools (1972). The message can be found in many books and videos. One in particular is from Simple Truths (Book & Movie by the same name): Pulling Together – 10 Rules for High Performance Teamwork. When geese fly in formation, they are constantly depend on each other. They see themselves in a larger picture. They protect each other and they share the lead. It is in this coming together that makes their flight easier. As we work together, believe in our own abilities and the abilities of the collective whole – learning, changing, and growing become easier.
The combination of leadership, focused goals, a commitment to shared learning and the belief in ourselves, others, and our students build a sense of empowerment to make change happen! It is an exciting process to be a part of and fulfilling to watch happen in the schools I support!