Sunday, May 9, 2010

Vision, Leadership, Management and Staying in the Why

This week seems to have seen a lot of posts about visionary leadership and about living out your Why? Or perhaps I've just been reading a lot about this, as I contemplate moving forward next year with the IT programme. I think one of my concerns is whether or not the administration at my school have the same vision for IT as I do - if they don't, if they have a different vision or different priorities, then I am going to find it hard to have them support the changes that I believe are necessary to move our IT programme forward and to focus on 21st century skills.

The first blog I read that really spoke volumes to me was the What's Become Clear blog which asked the question: are principals visionary leaders? In this post Dr Steve Wyckoff discusses how our principals are more managers than leaders, asking their teachers "are we doing things right?" rather than asking "are we doing the right things?" He goes on to say:
It is my opinion that if our principals were “leaders” they would be looking at society and asking the question, “Is what we’re doing in our schools preparing our kids to be productive members of a 21st-century society?” Perhaps I’m in the distinct minority, but I can’t imagine anybody thinking that what we are doing in schools today is in any way visionary, and preparing our kids for the 21st century.
This week I've had various discussions about how we need to move forward next year - currently in my school there is a great emphasis on defining benchmarks and learning outcomes in all subjects and I have become quite frustrated with these which focus very much on the micro (can the students left align in Word?, for example), rather than the big picture (can the students make appropriate choices when presenting textual information?) Since I believe that technology is a tool, and not content, I believe the idea of alignment of text and other skills will come up naturally in what the students want to do. I don't believe I need to teach this as a specific stand-alone lesson out of context. If I did that I would be teaching the IT as the content which I don't want to do, as my whole drive this year has been to integrate the IT into what the teachers are doing in their classrooms. I see the current focus on measurement and benchmarks very much as management, not as leadership. And as Steven Anderson said in a tweet earlier this week:

So I have been questioning what I can do to bring our school to focus more on the big picture. At this point I watched this TEDtalk from Simon Sinek who talks about how great leaders inspire action.

Simon Sinek talks about how important it is to start talking about why we believe what we believe first, then talking about how and what to do about it. The following day I came across the Leadership Now blog entitled Are You Living Out Your Why? The message of this is similar: passion inspires because it comes from inside ourselves and is something that we live: it is our why. A true leader inspires by example. As Michael McKinney says:
Watching someone live out a why is compelling. It makes people want to follow, connect and be engaged. It forms the basis of trust and the moral authority that is the spark of the leader/follower relationship.
So what have I learnt this week? I need to stay in the why, I need to talk more about what I believe about technology but even more about what I believe about teaching and learning, about how functional skills are only a small part of what our students need to be successful in their lives after school, about how we need to focus more on the communication, the collaboration, the critical thinking and the creativity.

Photo Credit: Perspective by paul (dex) busy @ work

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