Monthly Archives: October 2012

Out of my office

My use of Twitter throughout my day has indeed increased, but Sunday afternoon I learned I still have progress to make trying to listen to a fantastic Keynote and Tweet at the same time. RT was indeed my friend as I listened and connected with the words of Chris Lehmann at the ISTE Leadership Forum (#ISTELF12) in Indianapolis. Steven W. Anderson wrote a thoughtful reflection of Lehman’s words; I appreciated reading this as I continue to think through my experience and what it means for me and for my school and district. A couple of Lehmann’s points emphasized sharing ideas and modeling learning as leaders, which I wrote about yesterday.

Stressing that technology should not isolate us, Lehmann talked about technology allowing him to do his work in places outside of his office. A seemingly simple idea really resonated with me as I thought back to countless times where I’ve said, “I need to do (fill in the blank) really quick, and then I would like to get out in the building.” More often than not ‘really quick’ takes more time than I thought or something else arises, and I’ve lost valuable time with my students and staff during the school day. And I don’t feel good about that at all. So Wednesday when I returned to school and found a folder full of items needing my signature, I took that folder and my computer and headed to one of our flexible learning spaces to take care of those tasks that I really didn’t need to do in isolation. In a matter of 20 minutes, I accomplished the work I needed to and interacted with 4 classrooms of students and multiple staff members; that couldn’t have happened in my office. As I write parts of this, I’m in a different part of my school where I can see a parent volunteer with a small group and two instructional assistants supporting literacy groups.

Beyond the scope of that keynote, there has been considerable dialogue on Twitter about #NoOfficeDay ranging from thoughts that it is important to spend time with students and teachers to concerns that it implies that principals generally DO spend their time in their office. You can read more about that here. Additionally, the role and practice of principals has also been widely discussed and debated in social media, like here and here in the blog of teacher Josh Stumpenhorst. All of this has has prompted much thought over time as I’m in my second year as a building principal. I think back to my time as a junior high Assistant Principal when my administrative team scheduled ‘Instructional Time’ where we blocked out hours during the week where our goal was to be involved in classrooms rather than in the office. While this was essentially ‘no office’ time, we framed it as instructional time to put the focus on what we were doing rather than what we were avoiding. Josh’s posts also bring out the perceptions that exist about our work as building leaders. Taking my work out into the building this week beyond arrival/dismissal, birthday sticker deliveries, classroom visits or teacher observations has prompted some looks and some questions, resulting in some thoughtful conversations with staff. As I seek to enrich my school community and move us forward, I need to be with my students and staff and ‘care for’ them as Chris Lehmann said. I see many of my principal counterparts in my PLN seeking ways to do the same.

How do you engage with your students and staff during the school day? What actions positively impacted how your role is perceived in your school? How are you still challenged in this regard?

Much to consider and failure to own

This week, I was fortunate to travel to the ISTE Leadership Forum in Indianapolis. This was the first time I have been to a conference since starting a PLN, so it was a first opportunity to meet many of my PLN members in person.  That alone would have made the time worthwhile. Honestly, I’m still not quite sure where to start with organizing my thinking following keynotes, sessions, and informal conversation that both challenged and affirmed.

Blogging is an important step in organizing these thoughts and others as I move forward. I built this blog exactly three months ago, knowing there is value in the transparent reflection that happens as words fill this space.  This, though, marks the fourth time I’ve posted.  In a social media panel on Tuesday, Sheryl Nussbaum Beach made a reference to the effect of our good ideas not being that good if we’re not taking time to share them. Couple that reference with a post I read from Dean Shareski earlier this month and other nuggets of inspiration along the way, and I readily admit I have fallen short…way short. Part of being a learner and a leader is being willing to own that.
Looking futher, this fall I started East View Learns 100, a public online space where I hope to compile 100+ stories of learning from our school community. Today I was excited to post Story 13 and Story 14 and make plans for our very next student post. This project emerged from my reading of edu180atl, the #Learn365 project, and Parkland School Division’s 184 Days of Learning, along with Leyden Learn 365 which started this fall in Illinois, too. I am so excited to see our project unfold and love that all stakeholders in our school community can have a voice here. From the perspective of teachers, though, it is indeed taking a risk to engage in public reflection in a space such as this and not everyone is comfortable and willing. If I want them to take that risk, I owe it to them to model that myself. It is also my hope that I can bring some of my local school leaders along with me on this journey for their own progress and the greater progress of our students and teachers. Thanks to my PLN for continued encouragement and for giving me so much to consider; my commitment is to do the same for you along the way.