Making Education Leadership Less Scary
Education leadership at all levels can be scary. Most leaders find it difficult to change, move in different directions, or try new things. But looking at leadership from the direction educators must, today, which allows students to take more control in learning may help education leaders adjust. Teachers who are being asked to give more learning ownership to students are doing what leadership must do for their staff. In the case of students, teachers have found student learning is better, the learning sticks, and more learning happens more enthusiastically.
School leaders are not used to handing over the lead, because directing from the top has been a traditionally accepted route—it’s easier—and unpredictability is scary. This concept isn’t just delegating and forming committees, which is usually the old tried and true method for going nowhere. Instead, this kind of leadership says it’s OK to change the route traveled in education, and relies on the ability for a leader to turn followers into leaders themselves. Just as teachers need specific professional development to change, leaders may need similar leadership development to make this transition as well.
There is no template for doing this, and the entry points for jumping in can be different, too. Can technology help teachers teach and students learning, today, well yes. Can it help make education leaders better at that, too? The answer to that is yes as well. Educators and students prove that every day, but not in the numbers we’d like to see, nor in the organized manner necessary for the formative assessment that is needed more than ever today to take place. Anyone who thinks technology alone can solve what needs to be corrected in education, today, is barking up the wrong tree, but it can be a perfect place for leadership to jump in, and for leaders in the ranks to be developed from followers. Most educators are just waiting to have that happen, and some need to be taken on that new mission. A few have already bravely begun, but an individual can only do so much without support from above and everyone else, too.
This will help put more focus on teacher creativity and experimentation with new instructional technology, devices, and solutions. This is about creating a movement of more educators teaching in a way, in which students can learn for this decade and this century. Right now, we’re still talking about the one tech-teaching guru in a school, or in a district, and how she, or he, can engage students fully. We should be enlisting and mobilizing everyone in the school and district, all of whom have been outfitted for instructional technology success for teaching and student achievement. This can be done, and those results can be proven.
Leadership knows what can happen if they don’t enter as partners. In many cases, tech-teaching pioneers end up doing wonderful presentations, posting fantastic blog posts—and leave teaching—frustrated because their ideas are more accepted outside their own school district environment. Leadership’s role should be to nurture and help create more of these teachers, so that they and their followers all become pioneers and leaders.
It can begin, simply, by taking notice of the brilliant new teaching styles emerging, and, again, nurturing that in an organized way, for sharing with all in each school and throughout the district, as well as broadcasting outside of it. It starts with leadership saying it is OK to change and leading by example toward that change.