Friday, May 20, 2011

The Deliberate Practice of Edtech Leadership

I love the concept of deliberate leadership, of purposefully exerted action aligned to vision. To act with thoughtful and calculated enterprise requires an acute understanding of the end-game to which you are leading, which is why I appreciate ISTE's work on "Essential Conditions."

Like most "best-practice" lists, many of the conditions are cross-pollinating, organic rather than sequential, auto-catalytic, and fluid in priority as other conditions become more critical. And of course, it's easy to recognize a high-functioning system when you see it, but that's not the dilemma. The catch is where to start?

I get this question all the time. What should school leaders do first? Where should we best begin the process in order to increase the likelihood of success? The answer, unfortunately, is depended not on an endorsed method but more on the existing qualities of the people and the characteristics of the places targeted for innovation.

Through the lens of a district-level leader, the first and most essential measure that a leader can begin is an awareness of and personal competence in digital-age tools within a burgeoning digitally-oriented professional learning community. This may look like a group of administrators amusing ourselves with technology, but it may be the most important step of deliberate practice an administrator can take in order to develop the essential conditions of technology-integrated educational environments. The next step is a "systems" approach to working incrementally on the ISTE "Essential Conditions," most important of which is the "Shared Vision" condition.

What do you think? Where should a school leader begin to exert deliberate leadership in the process of edtech transformation? Should you have a balance of personal and system development? Is there one essential condition that is significantly more important than another?

1 comment:

  1. Great points to ponder Brad. I enjoy thinking about the personal vs. system quandary of where to start. I think we should build upon the skill sets and knowledge of those within the system. This is how we are supposed to teach a class of students. Get an accurate sense of what people know and are able to do, and then keep them all moving forward.

    Educators often think that new implementations must be sequential, measured, piloted, gradually assessed, with unified permission/approval, etc. We don't have time for all of this anymore, especially since the world's knowledge of learning and teaching (influenced by technology and connectivity) is changing so quickly. Quoting from Christensen's Disrupting Class, "Society has asked schools to pursue the new metric of improvement from within the existing organization, which was designed to improve along the old performance metric." We (school folk) think we are doing well as a system of education, but "...society has moved the goalposts and imposed upon [us] new measures of performance" (Christensen again). I agree with this, and it makes me think of Charlie Brown's attempt to kick a football in the hold of Lucy. Good grief!

    Quoting another favorite thinker of mine, whenever my brothers and I would ask my dad for advice, he'd frequently say, "You know, I don't know. But you better do something." We don't know exactly how right now, but we better do something.