What is the purpose of school?
Just finished a two day workshop lead by George Couros hosted by my school and I am using the last part of the work week to reflect and share my thoughts on “the networked leader”. First of all it is incredible that we were able to invite George over to do the workshop. He is an amazing leader in this area and he is a great story teller. And the best part is that he has so many great examples of just what is going on in classrooms where they encourage innovative, networked leadership. Exactly what we need to get going on this adventurous journey. Read his latest article opening Pandora’s box. That said it was very disappointing that so few school leaders took the time to join, even if I realize I picked one of the busiest times in the school year! More surprising was the fact that 8 decided to drop the workshop after signing up for it, with only a 1-2 days notice. Perhaps a time management workshop is even more needed here? I guess that makes me think of one of the main questions we had to answer during these two days; what is the purpose of school? What should be the main purpose of the principals and department heads? I realize there is no simple answer here, but surly the students factor into this. And if you don’t think the networked leader has anything to do with the classroom, you need to re-think you priorities. Making school interesting and engaging for the students is in my opinion what it is all about and if you are not connected, learning and engaging in conversations with other school leaders, then in my opinion you are not doing your job. It is as Will Richardson says, if you are waiting for a workshop to learn how to use twitter, then you don’t know how your students are learning today. They are not waiting for the teachers if they want to learn something new. If they are curious enough, they will learn from others online. My goal for my school is to look to the Parkland School Division. Their mission and vision is as follows:
- The school is a place where exploration, creativity, and imagination make learning exciting and where all learners aspire to reach their dreams.
- Our purpose is to prepare, engage and inspire our students to be their best in a quickly changing global community.
It is all about relationships and learning
That is how the workshop began and it is what I believe should be the fundamental value in what we do. Building relationships, getting to know your students to be able to help and guide them in their learning. There is no one size fits all in learning. I recently read the article “Escaping the education Matrix” in Mindshift by Steve Hargadon and it fits in nicely with what we have been working on these last 2 days. To Drive Real Change, Focus on the Human Factors. Hargadon says. “Recognizing the different needs of every student, and the desire to help each one become personally competent as a learner and find productive things to do in life—that won’t happen online.”“Living in a democracy means involving people in decision making,” Hargadon says. “You can’t just create a new system to implement top down; you have to provide the opportunity to talk about it and build it constructively.”
My takeaways from this workshop
were actually many but for now I think I will take the advice to concentrate on a few areas at a time. I have already used blogging in my class, but this week I got new ideas on how to use it with more students in a different way. In our school the students could have a school blog all three years and divide their subjects into categories in much the same way as I do here on my blog. If we could get the middle schools to start this project that would have been perfect. Transparency, cross curriculum work and sharing your learning with more teachers are just some of the benefits for both students and teachers.
If I was to choose a couple of areas where I would like my school to move forward it would be to have everyone sharing on Twitter. Starting slowly with a few tweets from workshops and seminars using our school hashtag. #sandvikavgs. And then I would love it if more teachers were using blogs to share ideas about what they do in the classroom, and by that encouraging more sharing in the classrooms and between classrooms. By doing this I expect more innovative and exciting things to happen in our school and by that making the learning more transparent and engaging for the students and the teachers. Parkland purposely calls everyone a learner, students and teachers alike. And by calling everyone in school learners you have taken a big step forward.
We choose to move forward and change our schools
We will continue to share our learning under the hashtag #osloleadership and by that we are hoping more school leaders in Norway will participate. But there is little learning if we restrict our conversations to country boarders. The language barrier might factor into this, but I do believe the participants will benefit using English as their Twitter language. I hope to host a workshop for school leaders part 2 in April, and if you read this I hope you will consider joining. I will close by quoting Kennedy’s moon speech moderated to suit this purpose: We choose to move forward and change our schools in this decade, not because it is easy, but because it is hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win!