Educational Leaders Must Be Self-directed Learners

Thinking about blogging for Leadership Day, I have had hundreds of titles running through my brain.  The common point of all of these titles is that you cannot simultaneously be a leader and be waiting for someone to tell you what to do.  “Nobody told me I had to…” is not an excuse for a leader.  Leaders must be on the look out for new things to learn and do.  This includes learning about technology.

I recently heard a story about a room full of educational leaders with smart phones being asked to text a response to a Poll Everywhere poll and not knowing how to do this.  Leaders do not accept the next new shiny toy without making a commitment to learn how to use it to accelerate their work.  Some might argue that an organization shouldn’t deploy the next new shiny toy without a training and implementation plan.  Should an organization really have to have a “training plan” for everything in this day and age?  How many hours of instruction do you think it would take to teach a 50 something principal what a 5th grader can figure out on his own? 

This train of thought makes me think of one of my favorite books, Counting on Frank.  The first page says something like, “My dad says, ‘If you have a brain then use it.’ So I do.” 

Here’s a worn out school scenario:  a student brings a device to school and starts pulling it out during “full frontal teaching” episodes or worksheeting activities.  The teacher is disturbed by the fact the student is “not paying attention in class,” collects the device and sends the kid to the office.  The principal fusses at the kid for “not paying attention in class” and informs the kid that the parent has to come to school to pick the device up.  The parent comes in the next day to pick the device up and the principal talks about how important it is for parents to support the school in these discipline matters.

Where in this scenario does anyone other than the student think about the quality of the classroom experience the student was opting out of?  Where in this scenario does anyone other than the student realize the potential power of this “device”?  Educational leaders do not think of new ways to keep school like it has always been.  Leaders must be on the look out for new things to learn and do.  This includes learning about technology.

2 Responses to “Educational Leaders Must Be Self-directed Learners”

  1. Sean Nash Says:

    The cell phone story made me instantly think of a post Dean Shareski wrote a year or so ago called "The Curse of Default Settings" where he spoke of being surprised by how many people possess such powerful equipment in their pockets often without using them to even a fraction of their potential. In my experience, those my age and older (40) tend to rarely if ever question a device like this with what he refers to (if I can remember that long ago) as a hacker’s mentality.You’re spot-on when thinking that good leaders are those who will see any event, any thing… anything for what it can do for them as a learner who is ultimately a sponsor of student learning.Thanks.

  2. jvirant Says:

    Anywhere, Anytime, Anyhow. Well-made point, Becky. I’d like to extend your idea that educational leaders do not think of new ways to keep things as they’ve always been to teachers. Great teachers see educational opportunity oozing from everywhere in their daily lives. These opportunities may have circuit boards and WiFi or not. One of the best teachers with whom I’ve ever worked has an overhead projector in his room I’ve never seen him use. The kids use it in small groups–it’s a collaborative tool for creative endeavors and problem solving. They can digitize their process (and they have) with a cell phone camera (a kid’s idea, of course).

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