What will you do to make the Earth better?

So, here’s a brief plug to help out Mother Earth! Do SOMETHING to help make a difference AND commit to doing that something regularly. Here’s a list of possibilities… there’s countless more everywhere you turn!

  • Take a Global selfie… (see NASA link  >>)

  • Help your city become more sustainable (visit Green Cities Campaign for more information)
  • Make sure your light bulbs are CFLs so that you are using less electricity.
  • If your heater is electric… set it to come on just a couple degrees warmer than it’s currently set.
  • Use recycled paper.
  • Carpool.
  • Don’t let your car run/idle if you are just sitting in it, waiting for someone.
  • Insulate your home.
  • Bring your own bags to the market…

There’s a much longer list of suggestions at StopGlobalWarming. I’m sure there’s many things on that list you can commit to!

Happy Earth Day!

Changing Paradigms for Changing Times? Thank you!

From: http://www.corwin.com/books/Book240618/ reviews#tabview=title

From: http://www.corwin.com/books/Book240618/ reviews#tabview=title

“The most important aspect of digital leadership is establishing a vision and a strategic plan for increasing authentic engagement of students in the teaching and learning process”  ~ Sheninger, Jan. 2014

So… I just finished reading Eric Sheninger‘s new book - Digital Leadership: Changing Paradigms for Changing Times. I also learned a new word. Heutagogical 

Here’s my conundrum: So often I feel that there’s this huge divide between those who are ‘on-board’ with digital literacy and leadership, supporting innovative education with passion and creativity, and those educators who are still pretty much stuck in the good ole days! I’m excited and honored to be connected to so many like-minded, 21st century focused educators but I feel like we often write about and promote ideas that are basically preaching to the choir. We read each others’ posts and share them/like them… It’s the educators who aren’t yet in the choir that we somehow need to connect to. How can we best do that!?

Sheninger does a great job of providing a plan for those who aren’t yet ‘connected’ to take those steps forward to become a digital leader. I have no doubt that many like-minded educators will greatly enjoy Digital Leadership. Hopefully, by reading this book, talking about this book and recommending it to others the ideas will spread.

So… the book. It provides a solid rationale for schools to start transforming into 21st century learning organizations. Sheninger lays out a very clear plan, with specific examples, for those who are just starting out to really embrace digital leadership. As Yong Zhao puts it, in the Foreword, “A framework for leading educational transformation with technology.” I was especially interested in his brief discussions of Web 3.0. Sheninger really pulls from all the current 21st century education thought leaders (Yong Zhao, Andrew Churches, Alec Couros, George Couros, Bill Ferriter and many more) as well as more traditional but still current educational leadership thought leaders like Michael Fullan and others.

There are so many wonderful points that Sheninger hits (the following are in no way a comprehensive list!):

  • The world has changed… and so must schools!
  • The array of digital tools available to schools to enhance learning, increase engagement, connect globally and communicate more effectively is enormous (Interactive White Boards. Chromebooks, Tablets, Web 2.0 apps [like Facebook, Twitter, Skype, Prezi, Wikis, Animoto, etc.], Video Conferencing software, OpenCourseWare, Massive Open Online Courses, Gaming, etc.)
  • The concept of space (virtual or physical) is the entry point for instructional change… AS LONG AS THE TEACHERS ARE EMBRACING LEARNING FOR TODAY AND TOMORROW!
  • Support and PD for teachers is ESSENTIAL… empower, articulate the why and how focused on improving learning, build capacity, use data and share it transparently… and, acknowledge the potential roadblocks.
  • Digital leaders model the vision… once you use the technology you can become an advocate for it.
  • Communication, Communication, Communication… connected to Branding, Strategic Partnerships and Public Relations (he hits Branding/PR and Strategic Partnership building very well and often!)
  • The “Pillars of Digital Leadership”: Communication; PR; Branding; Professional growth and development; Student Engagement/Learning; Opportunity; and, Learning Environment and Spaces are all aligned to the ISTE NETS-A AND the Breaking Ranks Framework.

Here’s a couple more of my favorite quotes from the book:

“Technology can engage, connect, empower, and enhance teaching, how educators learn, the work done by schools, and stakeholder relations”  p.45

…”Leaders become the epicenter of their learning and determine what, where,  and  when they want to learn… Connectedness and control of learning provides leaders with the ability to determine their own path and to differentiate to meet their diverse learning needs”. p.122

Here’s some of the many references he makes:

What I didn’t like so much: Not really addressing the issue of the growing divide between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’. Basically, Sheninger said to not let that be an excuse to not take the steps to transform. I would agree with that but I would also like to see creative suggestions on how to deal with making the divide less pronounced. That said, within each school’s individual context there are ways to balance resources in a fair (but not equal) way that must be done with sensitivity and confidentiality. Sheninger gave the example of a laptop cart with less than a full class set of laptops that is used to supplement for those who don’t have a laptop.

Basically, there’s  a lot to like, a lot to reflect on and a lot to walk away with and immediately put to use.

REPOST – What “School Reformers” — And All Of Us — Can Learn From Pope Francis About Creating Change

What “School Reformers” — And All Of Us — Can Learn From Pope Francis About Creating Change.

I actually first saw this article in the Washington Post blog by Valerie Strauss (unfortunately, the Post doesn’t have a WordPress share button but Larry Ferlazzo’s blog does!).  As I browsed Ferlazzo’s blog I came across another post that resonated with me, “Important Advice For Anyone Who Wants To Be Effective At Making Change“…

The fact is, leaders who listen make a huge impact. Along with that, humility goes a long way. Pope Francis has certainly been a good model of those characteristics (“Who am I to judge?“). Being a good listener and a humble person are signs that you are truly open to other perspectives. However, beyond that a leader must have the acumen and powers of observation to be able to know who is who, what is what and be able to read the climate of the place they are in to best decide which leadership tools will be most effective as they create change. Some techniques are effective in many places but will not work all the time for all situations.

From: Harvard Business Review Twitter at https://twitter.com/HarvardBiz/status /354329065299271681/photo/1

From: Harvard Business Review Twitter at https://twitter.com/HarvardBiz/status /354329065299271681/photo/1

Building relationships and making connections is often understimated. Again, this seems to be something Pope Francis understands and does well. After all, what could help build relationships better than genuine caring, compassion and the passionate belief that each of us can make a difference? Business, social science and conventional wisdom have converged (“The Network Secrets of Great Change Agents”)… Building that interpersonal network, establishing strong relationships, is important anywhere!

Leadership, Motivation, Emotional Intelligence and Innovative Education… click.click.click.

From Alex Ragone's Flickr stream at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ alexragone/3461563518/ No changes made.

From Alex Ragone’s Flickr stream at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ alexragone/3461563518/
No changes made.

Here’s what I love about the internet (one thing, anyway)… it’s amazing how, if you just browse, your thoughts really can lead to anywhere through a series of mouse-clicks.

Case in point – I was reading “5 Habits of Innovative Educators” on the Huffington Post site (which I, of course, clicked my way to) and I thought, these are good ideas to share…  When I got to “4. They are passionately curious.” It made me think about an article title I had seen in my mail inbox but hadn’t read yet, “Why Recognizing Emotions Is a School Leadership Necessity“. Click. Click. That article ended with a references to a school’s emotional tone and school climate… hmmm, I just received ASCD’s Educational Leadership magazine for February centered on “Building School Morale“. Instead of trying to find the hard-copy of the magazine I just… Click… Went to ASCD’s website and clicked on the Educational Leadership tab to remind me about the various articles.

Common strands: Leadership, Motivation and Emotional Intelligence.

School leaders owe it to themselves and those they are surrounded by to develop habits that support innovation. In doing so they will inevitably engage on an emotional level with like-minded learners because they will be showing they are passionately curious, seeking feedback to improve and believe in their students. It is that emotional engagement and connection with others that helps keep motivation high. School climate is a direct responsibility of leaders. The interesting thing is, from my experience, once a leader acknowledges their role and contributes positively to the school climate, those around the leader also take responsibility for a positive school climate.  In a high morale, positive school climate, educators and learners feel safe taking risks, being creative and making more connections… voilà! Celebrate the cycle of innovation!

10 years too late? 21st Century Skill-building!

Wordle_Ed_TechThe time has passed to urge everyone to get ‘up to speed’ and hope that most do!

If you aren’t’ building your technological proficiency AND staying mostly up-to-date with the latest tech trends – especially educational technology, you’re already too far behind. The future is not flipped classrooms, integrating Web 2.0 applications with student learning goals, BYOD and getting the most out of Open Courseware for your students and you – it is the present as in RIGHT NOW! The future is practically impossible to anticipate but if you’re not actively promoting technology integration and digital citizenship then you’re putting our students at a disadvantage in being prepared for that future.

From: Kathy Ishizuka's Flickr - http://www.flickr.com/photos/kathyishizuka/ 6270134103/sizes/l/

From: Kathy Ishizuka’s Flickr – http://www.flickr.com/photos/kathyishizuka/ 6270134103/sizes/l/

The beauty of tech integration is that it does NOT take anything away from building sound critical thinking/reasoning skills and writing skills (many of us would argue that it actually CAN enhance those skills, tap into student interests better and facilitate collaboration… necessary real-world skills).

A recent EdWeek blog by Peter DeWitt highlights the gulf between tech use in our personal lives (fairly advanced) and how well schools use technology.

I look forward to reading, “Digital Leadership - Changing Paradigms for Changing Times” by Eric Sheninger, once it comes out. I have no doubt he does a great job of laying it out very clearly and I hope he also provides something of a ‘blueprint’ for those who haven’t gotten ‘in gear’ yet.

Embrace it or get left behind!

Unchanged from Jeremy Price's ForestForTrees Flickr - http://www.flickr.com/photos/ forestfortrees/5388596974/sizes/l/

Unchanged from Jeremy Price’s ForestForTrees Flickr – http://www.flickr.com/photos/ forestfortrees/5388596974/sizes/l/