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ETL504 – What is leadership?

What is leadership? Initial Post at the beginning of ETL504

My understanding of leadership is someone who is a mentor and / or coach who not only has expertise, knowledge and advice to share, but someone who is an exemplary role model and ‘practices what they preach.’ An excellent leader is someone who is innovative, motivating and inspirational, they ‘walk the walk and talk the talk’. He / she displays empathy, understanding and has time to listen to team members. 

I show leadership in my school by:
• actively taking part in curriculum planning meetings.
• team-teaching and modelling ways of integrating technology into classroom lessons to effectively meet syllabus outcomes.
• collaboratively planning with grade level teams.
• organising and taking part in professional learning opportunities both school wide and for the wider community.
• mentoring other teachers (especially new scheme teachers).
• sharing teaching strategies and resources with colleagues.
• volunteering for extra curricular and co-curricular initiatives e.g. Tech Crewsaders Club, hosting conferences and TeachMeets, K-12 Professional Learning Committee.
• teaching and interacting with groups of students each day in school environment.

What type of leader would you like to be?

I believe that being in any role in education, especially in a ‘specialist’ role, it is all about building relationships with other staff members and developing a sense of trust in one another. In order for teachers to feel comfortable collaboratively planning, team-teaching and allowing you into their classrooms, they need to have developed a relationship with you first. This was my initial priority when I commenced my new role. 

I would like to be a transformational leader who focuses on reflecting, change and innovation. A transformational leader is a mentor and coach who empowers staff to achieve their goals.

 

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ETL504 – Innovation and Change

“Innovation is open to every man, woman, and child. It requires an inquisitive mind intent on solving an existing problem.”

What innovation has occurred in your school or work environment in recent times?

I define innovation as making changes to something already established by redefining or introducing new ideas, solution or technology. This academic year has been a year of change, as my school has decided to implement the following innovative projects:

•           Introduction of ‘Google Apps for Education’ for all staff plus students in Years 3-12.

•           Implementation of a shared set of ipads in both the Primary and Middle School Libraries.

•           Years 2-12 have all become part of the 1:1 program (either ipads, PC tablets or laptop computers).

•           Edmodo has been introduced into Years 3-12 as both a social networking tool and learning management tool for parents, teachers and students to communicate and collaborate.

The implementation of this innovation has been managed in a variety of ways:

•           Any students, teachers or parents who are having difficulty creating Edmodo accounts, adding ‘group codes’ or navigating their way around Edmodo are encouraged to contact an Educational Technology Specialist and additional assistance will be given.

•           Drop in sessions for any teacher who requires assistance or support with the introduction of any new area of technology in their classroom.

•           Support sessions, inservicing, initial overview and the problem being addressed by a new technological change to all staff during staff meetings. Differentiated professional learning sessions focussing on technology needs during staff meeting times to allow for a range of different teacher abilities.

What current aspect of your own work could have “an inquisitive mind” lens applied to solve an existing problem?

Schifter (2008, p. 264) states that in order for “change to occur in classroom practices there needed to be a strong training component. Therefore the Ed Tech team and School Admin have planned for extra support sessions and allowed for staff meeting time to be allocated to up skill teachers levels of technology.

One problem that has arisen is that there is such a large number of new devices and a range of new devices all arriving at the beginning of the school year. Teachers had not had adequate time to explore these new devices nor become confident users of ipads or surface RTs before these devices were introduced in their classrooms.

“Just because tools are present in classrooms does not mean teachers know how to make the most of those tools” (Schifter, 2008, p. 260). Ideally professional learning opportunities should have been planned for and taken place at the end of the previous school year, prior to new devices being introduced in classrooms to help the teachers (1) learn how to use these new devices, and (2) use these devices in a pedagogically appropriate way to assist the students to meet syllabus outcomes more effectively.

Now that the devices have been introduced, both formal and informal professional learning activities should be taking place regularly for teachers to exchange ideas and good practice, and therefore in turn refine their teaching expertise (Donoghue & Clark, 2010).

Additional professional learning strategies could be for teachers to share with another teacher ideas surrounding the use of technology that have worked and what did not work in their classroom. This strategy is called ‘pair share’ and allows teachers to not only come back to their classrooms with increased knowledge of technological use in their classroom; but also allows teachers to feel supported and encouraged, whilst at the same time building positive relationships with other colleagues in their school environment. By planning and working collaboratively together, teachers will display an increased level of trust within their learning community and stress levels, often heightened at times of innovative change, will decrease (Collay, 2011, p. 90).

I strongly believe that teachers need to be empowered and actively involved in the planning process when schools decide to introduce new technological devices and/or learning management systems. A shared vision needs to be adopted with a clear understanding of where the school is heading with regards to technology. “This process may take months or even years before final, broad adoption of the new technology. Teachers need extensive opportunities to ‘play with’ new devices before they are used in the classroom. Professional development should be hands-on and should involve teachers using the specific devices or software they will be using in class, to bring out problems ahead of time. Professional learning should be targeted to the distinct needs of different groups of teachers” (Russo, 2014).

“70% of all major change efforts in organisations fail” (Kotter, n.d.). Therefore innovation needs to be meticulously planned for, implemented gradually and heavily supported to order to successfully solve an existing problem.

References

Collay, M. (2011). Teaching is leading. Everyday Teacher Leadership: Taking Action Where You Are (pp. 75-108). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Donoghue, T. A., & Clarke, S. (2010). Teachers learning and teachers leading. Leading learning: process, themes and issues in international contexts (pp. 87-99). London: Routledge.

Innovation Takes Practice More Than Talent. (2013, January 30). —. Retrieved March 10, 2014, from http://www.redthreadthinking.com/innovation-takes-practice-more-than-talent/

Kotter, J. (n.d.). The 8-Step Process for Leading Change . Kotter International – Innovative Strategy Implementation Professionals. Retrieved March 10, 2014, from http://www.kotterinternational.com/our-principles/changesteps/changesteps

Russo, R. (2014). Five Smart Ways to Deploy Tablets. Harvard Education Letter, 30 (2). Retrieved March 10, 2014, from http://hepg.org/hel/article/592

Schifter, C. (2008). Chapter 14. Effecting Change in the Classroom Through Professional Development. Infusing technology into the classroom: continuous practice improvement (pp. 250 – 279). Hershey: Information Science Pub.EXTRA

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