Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Digital Leadership Day - A Call

So what, I'm a day or two late!  For Digital Leadership Day, I thought I'd review and tweak of thoughts from July of last year when I shared thoughts about difference between transformation and improvement. Thinking about digital leadership, it is a model of transformative learning and practices versus a focus on improvement.  In a time where transformation is necessary, being a leader is not enough.  The most effective leader is one who can most effectively wield the best tools to motivate, inform and model the transformation they desire to inspire in others.

I suppose I first came across the idea of transformation versus improvement during a reading of Why School by Will Richardson (@willrich45).  For me, this is a game changing book. No professional book I
have read has affected me the way it has. It left me with a feeling of in the pit of my stomach that the work of public education has never been more important than it is now and that we are truly at a crossroads (specifically chosen word here) in public education. Do we want to improve education or do we want to transform it? At face value, this may seem like a "chicken vs. egg" type of question, but I believe it is much more concrete than that! Of course we want to improve, who doesn't!? The key questions become: What are we improving? Is it worth improving? Even improved, does it meet the needs of our students? On the transformation side, that's a little scary! With transformation there is an element of unknown not to mention change. What do I have to change? Why do I have to change? What must I let go of? What am I transforming? What are we transforming into? Some of these questions have concrete answers, others not so much. This makes a next step difficult. 

Christ calls us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds and to not be conformed to the world in which we live. Improvement is not part of the deal until until we have made that tackled that decision at the crossroad: turn or continue. I firmly believe we stand at a similar crossroads in education. There is a need to transform schools and learning if we (schools) are to remain relevant and improvement is not going to take top billing until we've got something worth improving! My principal has a favorite saying from John Dewey: "If you teach today, like you did yesterday, you are not preparing students for tomorrow!" This idea does not focus on improvement. It has everything to do with transformation.

There is something that stands in the way, though. It is fear! Fear of unknowns, fear of differences, fear of change, fear to act and the list goes on! Fear has many voices and knows our "buttons".  I have experienced this first hand as part of a campus whose directive was to "transform teaching and learning." The fear experienced in its various forms and levels was almost paralyzing and it beat us down!  The journey of transformation is not easy!  Profound, right!?  Here is what I'm sure of as well: this journey of transformation cannot be traveled by settling for improvements in current practice!  This journey needs leaders that are going to pave the way with game chancing experiences.  We need digital leaders!  We need digital leaders in the classroom! We need digital leaders in campus and district administration!  We need digital leaders in our communities!

I am a digital leader!  Join me in proclaiming this!  I will not be discouraged by those who settle for improvement for fear of transformation!  I will not be a leader that talks transformation, but one that models it and engages in it!  I will not fear the unknowns or the change and will be bold in starting something amazing for the benefit of our kids!  If you are a digital leader, shout it and live it out!  You are are the game changers in education and the leaders of transformation of teaching and learning!  

Who are you bringing with you!?

Your brother in arms!


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