At a recent learning opportunity through the Abel program, I had the opportunity to hear Mary Jean Gallagher speak about leadership. As anticipated, it was a great presentation.
The session began with Mary Jean comparing developments from different time periods and the relative impact. She recalled the first main frame computers, and Commodore 64’s on the scene and wonderment people had about how things would change. What would happen?
Technology is in a constant state of flux. How will leadership respond to technological change: Does a new technology present a promise or a threat?
Questions to consider: How do we embrace new technology in a time when people are concerned about ubiquitous access and equity, AND in the same context of parent concerns of access, identity and privacy AND in the same context of: it is easier to be risk averse rather than push ahead.
It is human nature to pull back. How do we get people engaged in the change process? Perhaps a key role of a leader is to distress the comfortable, and comfort the distressed. Todays leaders need to add disonance to our organizations sometimes and be less risk averse. Leaders don’t have to know everything, and that is OK. Leaders do need to model in visible ways. Leaders need to help organizations set policies that help organizations move forward by enabling rather than avoiding.
Her presentation concluded by identifying points for leaders to ponder:
- Are you intentional about what you do?
- Do you role model in visible ways?
- Do you intentionally position things for change?
- Where do you lean: towards anchors or change?
- Are you reflective?
- Do you engage with wider collaboration?
- Do you model learning and inquiry?
I hope you find these points for reflection valuable. Enjoy your reflecting and learning — and happy leap year day.
Last Friday I had the pleasure of attending the Mobilizing 21st Centruy Teaching & Learning Leadership Symposium hosted at York University by the ABELearn program. The timetable for the day was:
- ‘Unleashing the Passion’ Keynote by Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach
- How Does It Work? – Tools, Strategies and Results – a Carousel of break out sessions
- ‘Teacher Professional Learning for the 21st century’ Keynote by Ron Owston
- Dimensions of Change: Leveraging the Wisdom of the Crowd (facilitated discussion and action planning)
During the Carousel of breakout sessions, I chose to attend the discussion titled ‘Building Capacity: A Shared Leadership Approach’. This session was an open round table discussion. A quick round of introductions revealed a diverse group of roles represented including teachers, eLearning leaders, ICT consultants, school administrators and CIOs.
The range of ideas and comments put forward hit the predictable topic list: getting more teachers on board, training, costs, access and funding. While many good points were made, I was quite fascinated by the discussion from one point of view. It was very interesting to see how many people focused on ‘getting something going’ in their own classroom, school or program. This approach certainly does create an energy at the grass roots level and is arguably important in the context of change at the local site level.
However, this approach does not guarantee a coordinated change at the system level. A few of the participants, including me, also spoke in support of the need for a system perspective on planned change as well. Key areas from a system point of view would include setting expectations, a focus on embedded technology use of specific curriculum needs (e.g. non fiction writing), staff development program support and IT support. Once these points were made, the group generally seemed to express agreement that this aspect of moving forward is a key ingredient.
All in all, this was a fantastic learning opportunity. I look forward to reviewing the content, actions and ongoing discussion in session wiki that will be set up.