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.
With a new year with students starting for me next week, I am very much reflecting on the importance and the challenges of being connected. This post is prompted by Connected Educator Month and Scott McLeod’s Leadership Day 2012 today! As I continue to mold my time with my staff at the start of next week, I am so excited about the possibilities for them, our students, our parents, and my colleagues. I am both motivated and confident in taking risks because I know the power to enrich our school community’s learning experience is more than available to all of us thanks largely to my Professional Learning Network (PLN).
My staff theme this year is #makeitcount, inspired by a Nike campaign in which filmmakers hired by Nike took their budget and embarked on travels around the world. This crossed my Twitter stream, courtesy of George Couros, in June right as our school year was coming to a close. This really spoke to me about taking those risks and providing engaging, thought provoking, authentic experiences rather than a nicely packaged rehearsed “film”. I shared this with teachers in my final time with them last year and highlighted some of the ways we “made it count” for the benefit of students. I prompted them, as they both reflected on last year and prepared for this year, to think toward the authentic experiences in which we can engage as a staff and provide for our students this year; we’ll pick up at that point again, come Monday. Trusting them and working alongside them as professionals, I also want them to think big, reach out, and take risks that would further student learning and family connections. I also shared how I encountered that #makeitcount resource, again, to put power behind growing a PLN. In other words, I shared the resource itself as the primary focus, and came around to Twitter the tool I used to make connections and acquire that. This is a strategy I’ve also used with administrator colleagues; it is essentially creating the relevance first and then teaching the tool. After a few opportunities to expose colleagues in this way, I share more of the “how to” phase of getting connected themselves.
While the summer is busy, most of us can agree that the pace still changes rather drastically in those first weeks when teachers and students arrive. Here is where my challenge comes in…I do not want to lose ground on the connections I make and continuing to both contribute and utilize the powerful resources my PLN consistently shares. I am aware that I have been less attentive to my PLN in the last couple of weeks in which my summer doctoral term brought exams and literature reviews as it wrapped and teachers returned to prepare their classrooms. I am not satisfied with that. I do not want the nuts and bolts of my work to take precedent over the value I can add to our community through true leadership. How do you integrate that into your day? Anyone else feeling this way?
I prepare to leave my office today thinking of …
- #kinderchat projects in which my school can engage
- Parent engagement possibilities and resources, and
- A variation of The #Learn365, tied back to edu180atl, 184 Days of Learning, which will provide a means to record and share our learning. (Shout out to Jason Markey who just started this at East Leyden High School yesterday!)
I’m still a bit amazed that all of this was here without me really knowing it before recent months, and I know I still have much to learn. I am inspired and grateful for the opportunities I have and the time that is generously given by others to connect more people and support one another in the critical work we do. Thank you, PLN!