Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Wired Principals - Why + how we're leading our schools this way for the 21st Century!

This is a combined post from @awelcome and @mrsfadeji about being Wired Principals in 2013!

(Adam Welcome) @awelcome - John Swett Elementary School

Thinking back to my first 'wired' moment(s) as an educator goes back six years and my time as an upper elementary teacher. I approached my districts technology department about moving forward with Google Apps for Education.......and the idea fell on deaf ears. So, I 'bypassed' a little and set up local accounts based around our school website rather than district wide. Change would be an understatement when describing the effect GAFE had on my classroom, then school and then finally district wide.

Fast forward six years and being a 'Wired Principal' is VERY important to me and setting the tone on campus is what I believe pushes our work and thinking on a daily basis.

Why do I lead this way?
  • At John Swett Elementary (@jseroadrunners) we're all members of 'Team Kid' (Translation) We do what's best for kids on a daily basis, our entire staff being wired is a huge part of that!
  • Wired is the new foreign language and preparing kids for a much different economy and work environment so they're successful is our purpose.
  • Wired = Mobile.....Not being tied to a specific learning environment (ie - classroom/desk) models for Ts + Ss!
  • Wired engages kids, teachers, parents and community in ways not previously possible!
  • Sharing with the world is so much more fun and meaningful than just with those that can read your newsletter. 
  • Being the example for Ts + Ss 'Sets the Tone' - Leading from the front shows people where you want them to go, not just talking about where you want to go.
  • Twitter connects classrooms at my school, across town, across counties and across the world! Get your staff on Twitter, we are!
  • The Principal is way more learner than manager, show your Ts + Ss how to connect and be connected. 
  • I want kids to produce knowledge/content, not just consume what someone else has produced!

How do I lead this way?
  • Having a school blog shows digital writing in action and sets the tone for student blogging!
  • Tweeting your school shares all the greatness that's going on, open those classroom doors for the world, it will inspire your Ts + Ss!
  • Wired Wednesday's started the progression at John Swett, 15 minute Professional Development sessions once/twice a month start the conversation, in a major way!
  • Ts will start presenting the Wired Wednesday's, now that's POWERFUL!
  • Ditch the Dell desktop in your office, get a laptop (I prefer this), iPhone and iPad to run your school, it can be done! Come to SVCUE on Saturday, March 8th to hear US talk about how if you're interested!
  • Talk about all of this! With PTA, Site Council, Ts, Ss, district about it, Tweet about it, spread the word. Don't keep the message a secret, people won't know what you believe in unless you share! 
  • Show evidence of other schools/leaders that are already leading this way. Look to Twitter, Edutopia and the plethora of educational blogs out their to provide support.
  • Stay strong and believe in your ideas/mission, even when people look at you like an alien!
  • Spend LOTS of time in classrooms, this is where schools 'make their money.' Visibility Visibility Visibility
  • Being part of the #SAVMP (School Admin Virtual Mentor Program) with @PeterMDeWitt and @gcouros

(Amy Fadeji) @mrsfadeji - Penngrove Elementary School

- Wire It Up!

Although it's fairly common to ask someone, "What do you do?" I'm personally not one who is big into titles.  As a principal, I hear parents constantly saying, "I don't want my child to be labeled" and I totally get that.  However, whether we like it or not, those around us are constantly labeling us, making observations, and drawing conclusions about us that may or may not be totally accurate.  A principal friend of mine, Adam Welcome (@awelcome), recently referred to me as a "wired principal."  I have to admit that I did a quick Google search on "wired principal" and ended up without any concrete evidence of what or why anyone would consider themselves a wired principal. 

What I can share with you is that I find myself constantly plugged in for the sake of my students and staff. On campus, you'll rarely catch me without my phone. (P.S. I just got a new iPhone 5s yesterday and it's beautiful! I'm such a sucker for black Friday shopping. #embarrassing)  In between stepping into classrooms to share in the goodness of all the learning taking place on campus, I am easily guilty of responding to a few emails, checking in with our office manager, tweeting classroom happenings, texting a teacher or two and re-scheduling appointments.  However, it is in the classroom, where I really feel wired!  Wired about the risks our teachers are taking, wired about the ownership our students are taking with their learning, and wired about the contagious momentum spreading like wildfire across our campus. #forestfire

Being a wired principal isn't just a feeling or a mindset. To me, being a wired principal is about being fully connected to everything and everyone in a variety of ways. As with many aspects of this profession, being a wired principal looks different on any given day.  In the month of November, here are just a few of my favorite wired moments:
  • Recording an Audioboo with some 2nd graders about what we are thankful for.
  • Joining in on a GHO (Google Hangout) with one of my 5th grade classes as they tried to guess the location of another 5th grade class in California.
  • Writing a couple of reflective blog posts from a local coffee shop and hearing that our 4th graders are starting to blog now too!
  • Meeting up with fellow admins on five different occasions to collaborate just for fun and learning.
  • Visiting JSE Roadrunners with another principal friend and meeting tons of energized teachers who are now connected with our awesome Penngrove teachers.
  • Brainstorming and collecting feedback from some students about our implementation of Google Docs.
  • Video recording students as they visit our "Say Something Nice" stand during recess and lunch.
  • Constantly making heroes out of students and staff members via our school Twitter account @pennpanthers.
  • Facilitating a "Third Thursday PD" with @lorideen after she successfully convinced our Superintendent to join Twitter. 
  • Getting a lesson on Animoto at a #brewcue hosted by @NorthBayCUE in St. Helena.
  • Celebrating the fact that two of my teachers will be presenting at the Google Education Napa Valley 1:1 Institute after their submission was accepted! 
If being a "wired principal" was just another label or title, quite honestly, I wouldn't be that interested.  However, when I look at the list above, and I think about the incredibly talented people who I get to share these experiences with, I can't help but claim this title with excitement!  Let's wire it up! 

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