Sunday, September 18, 2011

Digital Mentors for District Administrators

Three years ago while at an ASCD conference, I heard Don Tapscott talk about digital mentors. The concept resonated with me. He talked about having three "digital natives" as technology mentors to keep him up to date, to help him work through issues, and to give him advice when needed.  I love this idea. As Tapscott says, "Don't be afraid; learn from the N-Geners." Procter and Gamble have apparently endorsed the concept of "reverse mentoring" to the extent of creating a mentoring program where N-Geners mentor veteran employees.

I have three digital mentors. Cord Blomquist, my brother-in-law, runs  Ready Made Web. I can't thank him enough for his assistance in troubleshooting hardware problems, his advice on technology purchases, and his annual family CPU maintanence visit. Brandon Resheske is my second digital mentor. Always available, never makes me feel like I've just asked a dumb question, Brandon is my Google buddy. From experimenting with Google Wave (ing goodbye:-) to Buzz, to Google+, he's always had time for me. Last and probably most influential is Dan Berg. He's the man. He's my gaming guy, my mobile go-to expert, and my html resource. He's the guy who had enough patience to help me through Xampp, and Filezilla, and Hostmonster, and Wordpress trouble shooting, and the list goes on. Thanks, guys, for all the help.

I am, indeed, fortunate to have access to expertise, but I also sought out these relationships. What is most important is that district administrators are open to exposing our weaknesses and learning new things from others who may not have our professional status. We need to transition from being the mentors to being mentor-able. So often, we are the the talking heads with all the answers, where the buck stops. For district administrators to not be held hostage to our ignorance and pride, we need assistance, most likely from a younger generation who may not have the same education or career rank. We need to get over it.

Look around you. It could be a brother-in-law, a colleague, a niece, or a neighbor's son. Let your self-importance fall away, and start the conversation. Power up with a digital mentor, log in, and step into the stream.

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