A leadership blueprint for the modern, connected world

Scott McLeod of the Dangerously Irrelevant blog has been asking for posts on leadership for seven years now on what he calls “Leadership Day”. This is a great emerging resource with so many interesting perspectives – almost 500 blog posts! I’ve participated in some years, with my own range of perspectives (see below).

In the past few years my focus has shifted from student leadership to the new affordances of the Maker Movement in K-12  classrooms. Since writing Invent To Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom, my perspective has changed, but in many ways, also reinforced what I already knew about the power of student agency and ownership of their own learning.

The Maker Movement is a global learning revolution that offers a way to look at leadership in a new way that is relevant for both schools and communities.

For example, in this video architects in Amsterdam talk about the process of designing a 3D printer big enough to build a house, building that printer, and then starting to print the house. When you watch this video, there is an interesting part where they decide to put the KamerMaker (roombuilder) out on the front lawn of their office so that the community can come and see what’s going on and offer their perspectives.

KamerMaker from 3D Print Canal House on Vimeo.

Leadership in the Maker Movement doesn’t mean “I do, you repeat” – it means that together we are better. It may seem messy and inefficient to some people, but I think it’s a leadership model for the modern, connected world we live in.

Here are my previous Leadership Day posts:

  • 2007 – Leaders of the Future where I focused on developing the leader in every learner.
  • 2008 – Just Do It where I urged administrators to stop waiting for the district reorg or the next version of Windows or that bandwidth you were promised 3 years ago and get moving. Listen to kids, don’t listen the teachers who can’t seem to manage an email account, damn the torpedos and full steam ahead.
  • 2009 – Every day is leadership day in which I wrote about the connection between “agency” (meaning true choice) and leadership. Leadership is only meaningful when people have an actual choice to follow or not follow. Leadership is inextricably bound to free will, in the same way democracy is. In schools, this must happen every day, at every level of participation.
  • 2010 – What Leadership Looks Like talks about the challenge we face when trying to describe leadership when it’s so dependent on context and personal style. How can we say “what works” if this is so variable?

I invite you to read the other posts made on the subject of Leadership Day and perhaps write your own. What does leadership look like to you?

Sylvia

Where Will Future School Leaders Come From?

Great leadership is inclusive leadership, yet the largest stakeholder group in schools is often forgotten: students. Students are 92% of the population at most every school site. To be a leader, you have to lead 100% of the population, not just the 8% who look like you.

Wonder where the future leaders of education will come from? They sit in front of us everyday. Thinking that “school” doesn’t understand who they are. Wondering what their role will be in changing the world. Wishing that someone would give them the opportunity to make a difference.

Students can be leaders of the future by being leaders today. Leadership lessons cannot be learned in a vacuum. Including students in every aspect of school can be done if caring adults make it a priority. Students can learn to teach others, be on real decision-making committees, provide services like tech support, or run for the school board. Students who take on real and important responsibility learn to trust themselves as they show they can be trusted. Empowerment isn’t something you “do” to people; it’s an outcome of being valued, respected, and listened to. Adults can learn to see young people in a new light as essential partners in creating better learning opportunities for all.

Enabling youth voice in K-12 schools isn’t simple. Once empowered, young people might not say or do what you expect. It takes time to teach them how to speak their minds effectively and to work collaboratively. And they keep growing up and leaving, so the effort never ends. Youth voice is about much more than listening to young people, although that’s a start. It’s about long-term commitment to action, because in action, young people find their voice.

I’m not talking about the kind of token youth panel you see at educational conferences, where students who can be counted on to say acceptable things are trotted out for an hour. Everyone nods and feels good about listening to youth voice, and then lunch is served while the kids are conveniently bused back from whence they came.

Ignoring youth leadership potential is a lose-lose situation. We lose their input, convince them we don’t care, and miss the teachable moment. We enable dependence in youth by not allowing them to participate in the process of school decision making. We create alienation and then blame young people for not caring. The curtailing of student press freedom and the blocking of online discussion creates fewer opportunities for young voices to be heard in every avenue and fewer opportunities to practice these skills.

Leaders of today should be worried about where the leaders of tomorrow will learn how to be informed, involved citizens of the world. Those of us who believe that modern technology is a key to changing schools also know that this digital generation has more direct experience with technology than any other group. They could be powerful allies and advocates–if adults make the choice to listen and provide expertise as needed. When students aren’t included in the effort to improve education, we lose more than their technical know-how; we lose the opportunity to shape the leaders of tomorrow.

Sylvia

Cross-posted on GETideas.org’s Featured Thought Leaders Series as part of a webinar. Here is the link to the archive: http://youtu.be/c77ET5-EX9E

And audience comments: https://plus.google.com/u/0/115848119890273950575/posts/WH1Nko4yhNv

Back to School 2012 – Start your “year of empowerment” now!

Start the year off with hands on
Think you need to wait for kids to settle down and learn the basics before you let them do projects and hands-on work? Not according to this expert teacher.

What tech vision will you share?
What message does your Acceptable Use Policy send when it goes home with students for them and their parents to sign? This year, change overly complex, negative language to language that celebrates the potential of technology – and students.

Games for collaboration and teamwork
Want to create a more collaborative, constructivist classroom? Instead of traditional icebreakers, try these games that encourage collaboration and teamwork.

What do students want from teachers?
Listen to what students say they really want from teachers. And no, it’s not “more recess.”

Student technology leadership teams for laptop schools
Are you getting more devices this year? Laptops, iPads, iTouches, netbooks or going 1:1? Do you have enough tech support? Enough support for teachers using new technology? Enough support for students? No? Well then learn how students can be a great resource in laptop schools to ease the burden on overworked teachers and IT staff – and mentor other students. Genius bar, anyone?

Ten commandments of tech support
Ten ideas for making technology support more learner-centered and less network-centered.

8 Big Ideas of the Constructionist Learning Lab
Last but by far not least, if you are looking for some inspiration to post on your wall, here are 8 Big Ideas of the Constructionist Learning Lab. These eight ideas give actionable advice to create opportunities for deep learning for all. (Also in Spanish)

Happy back to school!

Sylvia

Leaders today and tomorrow

Great leadership is inclusive leadership, yet the largest stakeholder group in schools is often forgotten — students.

Those of us who believe the modern technology is the way to change schools must also realize that this digital generation has more direct experience with technology than any other group–if we were listening. When students aren’t included in the effort to improve education with technology, we lose more than their technical know-how, we lose the opportunity to shape the ongoing conversation and cultivate the leaders of tomorrow.

While we wonder where the future leaders of the educational reform movement will come from, there they sit in front of us everyday, being ignored. Thinking that “school” doesn’t understand what their lives are like outside of the classroom. Wondering what their role will be in changing the world. Wishing that someone would give them the opportunity to make a difference.

Enabling youth voice in K-12 schools isn’t simple. They might not say what you expect; it takes time to teach them how to speak their minds effectively and work collaboratively. And they keep growing up and leaving, so it never ends. I’m not talking about the kind of token youth panel you often see at educational technology conferences, where students who can be counted on to say acceptable things are trotted out for an hour, everyone nods and feels good about listening to youth voice and then lunch is served while the kids are conveniently bussed back from whence they came.

This is a lose-lose situation. We lose their input, convince them we don’t care, and miss the teachable moment. We enable dependence in youth by not allowing them to participate in the process of school decision-making. And technology is only a small part of this. The curtailing of student press freedom and the blocking of online discussion creates fewer opportunities for student voices to be heard in every avenue and less opportunity to practice these skills.

It’s not just about leadership in educational technology, we should be worried about where the leaders of tomorrow will learn how to be informed, involved citizens of the world.

Related Download: From Vision to Action: Including Student Leadership in Your Technology Plan (PDF) This 8-page guide contains research, sample language, practical suggestions, 6 models of student involvement, and a planning worksheet. Print it out and give it to your favorite tech planning committee members!

Sylvia

Student Tech Leadership Summer Camp

Granville Students Attend Regional NYSSTL Training

Five students from Granville Central School District in New York attended a week long New York State Student Technology Leader (NYSSTL) Training Camp at WSWHE BOCES in Saratoga, during the last week of July. At the summer camp, students learned how to become New York State Student Technology Leaders in their school. There were approximately 30 students from WSWHE BOCES regional schools, from as far south at Ballston Spa Central School and as far north as North Warren Central School.

At the camp, students discussed and demonstrated their understanding of crucial contemporary Internet technology topics, including Internet safety and ethics, copyright and fair use, citing sources of information, evaluating websites and checking author credibility, netiquette, cyber bullying, and digital footprints.  They also learned to use new technologies and completed two technology projects using these tools to demonstrate their technology literacy.

As the training progressed, students spent time learning to become peer mentors, so that they can help other students with technology projects at school. They practiced this skill at the camp as they completed work on technology projects throughout the week.

Students were also trained to assist teachers with technology. They were provided with accounts and taught how to access and use their school’s NYSSTL Help Desk which is an online tracking system and communication tool. Students learned how to help teachers request a TAP or Technology Assistance Project, and also how to use many of the tools built into the online help desk.

In addition to discussions, role plays, and working with computers and various peripheral devices, students also participated in recreational games such as competition cup stacking, bocce, ladder ball, and ultimate Frisbee. All students who attended the camp received complimentary breakfast, lunch, and desserts, such as make your own sundaes. They also received embroidered NYSSTL T-shirts, TechYES Technology Literacy Student Guides, 4GB flash drives, and messenger bags, which they decorated with fabric markers at camp.

Granville Computer Technology Teacher/NYSSTL Advisor, Leanne Grandjean, along with experienced Student Technology Leaders, freshman, Josh Sumner, and sophomore, Marc Billow, also went to the camp to lead and support students who were training to become Student Technology Leaders.

Mote here!

Syracuse here we come!

I’m heading to Syracuse, New York next week to keynote the March ITD TALK series at the Central New York Regional Information Center (CNYRIC) on March 17, 2011. We have a really special day planned for all the attendees, because after my talk, there will be presentations by students and teachers from local GenYES and TechYES schools.

So if you are in the area and want to see student technology leadership and literacy in action, be sure to register and come by! I’ll be setting it up in the morning talking about how we must expand our narrow view of technology professional development to include more than one shot, one-size-fits-all, “sit and get” sessions.

GenYES and TechYES in Action
Teachers and students from Jamesville DeWitt High School and Baldwinsville’s Ray Middle School will be on-hand to discuss their experiences with the GenYES and TechYES programs in their respective schools. GenYES is the only student-centered research-based solution for school-wide technology integration. Students work with teachers to design technology-infused lessons and provide tech support. In TechYES, students show technology literacy by creating projects that meet state and local technology proficiency requirements. As part of TechYES, a structured peer-mentoring program assists the teacher or advisor, and provides student leadership opportunities that serve to further strengthen the program and enrich the learning community.

Hope to see you there!

Sylvia

Free access – Educational Leadership: Working with Tech-Savvy Kids

Working with Tech-Savvy Kids article in Educational Leadership

ASCD’s magazine Educational Leadership has opened up our article Working with Tech-Savvy Kids for free online access. We really appreciate this!

Today’s students are increasingly savvy about the role technology plays in modern life. Yet schools are not keeping up. Students can be valuable resources in the areas of training and support. Five models have emerged that balance the benefits of service learning and leadership with the needs of schools struggling to integrate technology: students as committee members, students as trainers, students as technical support agents, students as resource developers and communicators, and students as peer mentors and leaders.

The article gives five models of student leadership that can support 21st century learning in schools, with case studies from real schools who use students as leaders, teachers, mentors, and advocates. There is lots more in the article, but here’s a quick “Getting Started” list for student leadership teams focused on technology.

Getting Started

Creating a plan that includes students in school technology decision making and implementation is just the first step. Keep the following in mind:

  • Provide student access to training, hardware, and software as needed.
  • Give students adequate time and attention to help them grow into their new roles. They will not automatically know how to participate in these opportunities. Encourage a student-led culture with real responsibility that increasingly challenges students to step up and prove themselves. Reward proven responsibility with increased trust.
  • Don’t forget your younger students. It’s never too early for authentic learning opportunities, and these students can be surprisingly helpful with concrete, well-defined tasks.
  • Plan for turnover. Continually recruit and train new students. Allow veteran student leaders to mentor new recruits.
  • Look for ways to encourage long-term student involvement. Make student involvement part of a credit-bearing class, which counts toward graduation or service-learning credits. This involvement can also take the form of independent study or an internship.
  • Create an adult advisory position. This person should have a passion for student empowerment. The advisor will monitor participation, recruit and train new members, and facilitate group activities.
  • Be sure to include school administration and staff in planning for any for-credit student tech-support classes or similar courses. School counselors need to know that these classes will have high expectations for students to participate, collaborate, and be independent thinkers and leaders. Create a plan to recruit students and persevere, even if the classes are small to begin with.
  • Don’t mistake the ease with which youth today use technology in their everyday lives for knowing how to use it in education settings. Teach them the appropriate use of technology and its role in enhancing learning.

Working with Tech-Savvy Kids article (Educational Leadership) – Enjoy!

Sylvia

Learning @ School – Keynote

I’m excited to be heading off to New Zealand next month to keynote the Learning@School 2011 conference in Rotorua (Feb 23-25). It looks like a wonderful conference, with some really interesting themes and strands.

I’ll be talking about student leadership and empowerment – and the way we can structure learning environments to offer those opportunities. Putting students into positions of responsibility for what and how other people learn teaches them that what they do matters, and gives them new insight into how they (and others learn.)

People always say, “you learn so much by teaching” – so why not have students learn AND teach. Combining this with technology, for which students today have a natural instinct and interest,  just makes sense. Students can teach other students, teach teachers, support technology professional development, help with technical set up and support, and much more. It creates natural collaboration opportunities, provides challenges at many levels, and is really useful. Giving students this kind of responsibility creates a win-win situation where students are valued for their expertise and hard work – real, needed work!

I’ll also do a follow up session to talk about the “how tos” of student technology leadership programs, and then another one about games in education.

I also hope to get some time visiting the famous geysers, boiling mud pools and thermal springs of Rotorua!

Sylvia

What leadership looks like

Scott McLeod of the Dangerously Irrelevant blog has declared today, July 30, 2010 as Leadership Day 2010. He’s been doing this for three years now, and each year I’ve participated with a post.

  • 2007 – Leaders of the Future where I focused on developing the leader in every learner.
  • 2008 – Just Do It where I urged administrators to stop waiting for the district reorg or the next version of Windows or that bandwidth you were promised 3 years ago and get moving. Listen to kids, don’t listen the teachers who can’t seem to manage an email account, damn the torpedos and full steam ahead.
  • 2009 – Every day is leadership day in which I wrote about the connection between “agency” (meaning true choice) and leadership. Leadership is only meaningful when people have an actual choice to follow or not follow. Leadership is inextricably bound to free will, in the same way democracy is. In schools, this must happen every day, at every level of participation.

This year, as I read my past posts, I saw a trend. I started with students as leaders, moved on to finding ways to move forward despite obstacles, and last year, opened that theme up to all levels of leadership. I’ve consistently gotten broader and bigger with my thoughts about leadership.

But today it occurs to me that perhaps I’ve broadened the topic to such an extent that it’s nearly impossible to actually DO anything about it. If leadership is a good thing, we must be able to say what to do to achieve it. Right? Shouldn’t we be able to answer the questions – What does it look like? How do you do it? What conditions does it require? It’s not fair to say that we know it when we see it. It’s not useful to say that leadership success is simply success in leadership.

People talk about leaders all the time. We see models of leadership on TV, at our workplace, read stories about them, find them in history and self-help books. But what can we learn from them? How can people call both Ghandi and Donald Trump great leaders? (Can you imagine Ghandi shouting “You’re fired!” at anyone?) Why does it work equally well for one sports coach to throw stuff at players and call them names, while the coach at some equally award-winning team speaks softly and treats players with respect? How can a principal who carries a whistle and has a “convincing paddle” on his wall be a great leader in the same world as the principal across town who is grandmotherly and nurturing?

And yet, we see this paradox every day. “What works” is variable to an almost maddening degree.

  • Perhaps it’s that their personal style works for them – is leadership simply being true to yourself?
  • Perhaps they just found the right set of followers – is leadership then dependent on followership?
  • Perhaps it’s that they just have a consistent vision – is leadership just making clear statements and following through on expectations?
  • And if these differences don’t matter – then how can we ever figure out what a successful leader “does?”

But three years into my leadership musings, I find myself with more questions than answers, wanting to dive down into the individuality of leadership. Expanding the definition, it seems, means less understanding and potentially losing the hope of grasping it.

I invite you to read the other posts made on the subject of Leadership Day and perhaps write your own. What does leadership look like to you?

Sylvia

Student Leadership – Building Authentic 21st Century Skills

This is an archive from my webinar at the Cyber Conference for the Capitol Region ISTE affiliate (CRSTE) held on Feb. 27, 2010.

Student Leadership – Building Authentic 21st Century Skills
Clicking this link will launch the Elluminate web meeting tool and start the archived webinar. It may ask you to OK launching Elluminate. Once it starts, it’s just like you had attended the online webinar in real time. You can hear the recording, see the slides, and watch the chat log.

See the list of all archived sessions

In this session, I talk a bit about how empowerment and engagement are an essential part of the cycle of learning. Hope you give a listen!

Sylvia