The Birth Announcement
It’s my first blog post, ever and I feel the need to explain.
The Name-A Little Context
One description of the Renaissance, according to wikipedia, includes words like, “dissemination of ideas, resurgence of learning, intellectual transformation, gradual but widespread educational reform.” All words fittingly describing the two purposes for my blog:
1. A place to document and reflect on my process, practice and learnings as an elementary school principal.
2. Connect and share with other school administrators.
The birth of my blog, A Principal’s Renaissance.
It kind of all started with wanting to create an avatar. Around this time last summer. I thought I wanted to become an elementary school principal, and applied to an elementary school in Los Angeles who wanted, among other things, “a collaborative, hands-on instructionally focused administrator, who understands how technology compliments traditional educational practices.” Although I wasn’t on the “cutting edge” of using technology in my instructional practice, I wasn’t on the fence either. I heard about the “digital divide” at a CUE conference and made a personal pledge to take action to close that gap. I had a laptop, an iPhone and was about to purchase an iPad. I believed these devices had an authentic and valuable place in school in the hands of learners. How to use those types of devices meaningfully in an instructional setting was a guiding question I had just begun to explore in my work as a Reading Intervention Instructional Coach, the position I held prior to taking the leap into administration.
Towards the end of summer, I received “the call.” I got the job. My knees started to tingle. Had I’d been standing I would’ve had to sit down. Because I was driving, I had to pull over. I phoned Mathew Needleman, one of my “life-lines.” I confessed my fears and doubts about becoming an administrator at this school. Yes, I’m fascinated by the use of technology. Yes, I’m a collaborator. I know no other way to work. I even collaborate with myself by processing out loud! Yes, I love learning, discovering, practicing, reflecting and celebrating. While I don’t like failing, I respect and value it’s importance as a necessary step in the whole learning cycle. Without some degree of failure, or skip it, innovation will not happen. And yes, I am passionate about instruction and teaching.
“Those are the reasons you’ll make a great administrator, Mathew said. “You’re a passionate learner. That’s what a great administrator is. You’re also a good cheerleader. Teachers and students need their principal to cheer for them, to support them. You’re funny and like to have fun. Teaching and learning are hard work and you’ll bring fun and humor to the work place.”
I knew then as I still do now, and candidly stated to the interview panel, that there is SO much more I didn’t know about being an administrator, but I know I’m a dedicated teacher, and collaborator, which means I know how to learn and I know how I need to learn.
That being said, I survived the first year with a few minor set backs that propelled me forward on the path to achieving a few of my personal and professional goals, one of which was to learn about my team of teachers.
It’s a Girl! The Principal is a Life-long Learner
My school has a reputation for its digital edge program. Because technology is constantly evolving, I thought the teachers and staff were comfortable with the change learning brings. Needing to “catch-up” to where I thought the staff was in their knowledge and understanding of how to use technology in the classroom, offered me the opportunity to lead by being open about the learning I needed to do and continue doing. I asked my teachers and my students to teach me. I went to workshops, participated in webinars, used youtube as an independent study partner and joined the technology PLC in our administrative district meetings. I shared my learnings and invited all teachers to participate. I started reading What School Leaders Need to Know About Technologies and Social Media and invited the technology committee to start a professional book club. That led us to CUE, then to ISTE12!
The Christening: “Cue to the Future” and “Connect, Consume and Contribute!”
Four teachers on the tech committee came with me to CUE and we were “born-again.” Returning as evangelists, I invited the entire staff to attend ISTE12. One of my teachers accepted. We went and were transformed! It was like a church revival! We went to a welcoming event to become acclimated to features of the conference. They encouraged us to tweet, to use web 2.0 tools to connect, and form professional learning communities or networks, to share our learnings and engage in the conversation. I sent out a tweet and received a mention!
Fate led me to The Daring Librarian hosting a session in the Digital Playground about creating avatars. I started following her on twitter. She pushed me to “break the egg,” post a photo, create profile and go public. She shared her wikis and blog with me and invited me into her PLN. Once I clicked on the link, I knew I’d never sleep again. Inspiration ignited!
Thank you Gweneth!
By way of web 2.0 tools, I was introduced immediately to and started following some of the most thoughtful, reflective, supportive, generous and innovative educational leaders from around the world!
Now that I’m connected, and am consuming, I’m inspired to contribute. The Daring Librarian encouraged me to blog. “About what? I asked myself aloud. I’m learning how to use “all of this.” As if on que, “Summer Blogging Challenge” from George Couros , arrives! In his post he writes:
“I would like to just offer an idea for people that are either trying to start a blog, or give themselves a jumpstart. Sitting with David Wees last night, he reiterated the importance of a blog as being his space for learning, which is something that I think is extremely important. This modeling of learning is something that I really believe we need to do as educators/leaders. Often though, many people are trying to have the next great original idea, when blogging is a great space to just share thoughts on what they are learning.”
His blog post reminds me about the humility and confidence in being a learner. As a principal, as an “experienced learner” George Courous’ post gave me the support and the structure to push past the fear, and “just do it!” WRITE!
Thank you George!
In the new school year I’m inviting my teachers to blog about their learning (including #learn365), as am I. This blog post reminds me that yes, my teachers are “experienced learners” who also need support in their learning process.
In your school what supports and structures do you provide for your teachers to feel safe and to document, reflect and share their practice as elementary school teachers?
So, thats it! My “great space” or place to document, reflect and share learning is born!