From the Principal's Office: People Make the Difference

7/31/2013 12:00:00 AM
I often think back to my early years as an educational leader in order to gain a better perspective on how much I have grown.  Almost all of this growth can be attributed to a point in time that I became connected using a variety of social media tools.  Prior to this moment I would say that I led my school in an efficient manner as opposed to effective.  More time and emphasis was placed on managerial tasks rather than those that could transform the culture of the school.

Image credit: http://www.celeritystaffing.com/how-to-develop-a-social-media-policy-part-2/

I led in a way that I thought was best.  This was due to a lack of information on better ways of doing things.  Being on an isolated island in terms of access to information had a real negative impact on my ability to move my school forward during my first two years as principal.  Not only was I being held back, but also so were my teachers and students.  When we know what we know we develop views and perspectives that we think are spot on.  It is only when we push ourselves outside of our knowledge comfort zones that we can truly be the catalysts for change that our schools, districts, and communities desperately need.

As many readers of my blog know, the big changes in my career came when I discovered the value of social media as a leader and learner.  It started with Twitter and eventually led to the use of virtually every major social media tool available with the sole goal of improving professional practice.  Becoming connected and developing my own Personal Learning Network (PLN) freed me from the purgatory that the traditional system of education had created.  Social media and the resulting PLN provided a doorway to endless learning opportunities that have forever changed my professional practice.  In my eyes this was the freedom that I desperately needed to no longer be a cog in a wheel.  I want everyone to experience this freedom.  It is a rush like no other.

I finally became the CEO of my own learning as I began to forge a path that in time helped me to become more effective.  It really clicked after I applied what I had learned to transform the culture of NMHS.  What is even better is that these initial changes have been sustained.  As much as the social media tools were important to this process, they pale in comparison to the ultimate driving force of a connected model of learning – PEOPLE!  Social media is a catalyst for conversation, plain and simple.  In itself, it will never be a transformative tool.  It is the people that engage in conversations, participate in learning communities, share resources, acquire knowledge, and reflect on their practice that ultimately become the agents of change education needs.

Our voice, ideas, and opinions have never been so important.  We can choose to stick our heads in the sand and remain isolated within our buildings or our localized school communities.  In my opinion, this is not a wise choice.  Together, we as educators, have the potential to easily, and seamlessly, connect with one another and to be the driving force for professional development and reform, but only if we are united.  Social media provides the medium for us to collectively empower each other to become better while learning side by side.  It allows us to showcase everything that is good in education while providing inspiration to change.  

The more people we have engaged and connected will dramatically enhance our ability to learn from each other, elicit feedback on our ideas/initiatives for change, and magnify our voice as to what our education systems really need to be effective.  During a recent Twitter conversation Tony Sinanis stated, "The perk of SM is that we seem to have access to the best of the best in education."  I couldn't agree more.  I am indebted to the many PEOPLE I have connected with through social media that have made me a better leader and learner. The power and value of social media lies in the PEOPLE that connect, converse, engage, and learn in these spaces.  Make it a point today to get someone connected to strengthen our learning community and transform theirs.

cross-posted on A Principal's Reflections

Eric Sheninger is a NASSP Digital Principal Award winner (2012), PDK Emerging Leader Award recipient (2012), winner of Learning Forward's Excellence in Professional Practice Award (2012) and co-author of Communicating and Connecting With Social Media: Essentials for Principals and What Principals Need to Know About Teaching and Learning Science. He presents and speaks nationally to assist other school leaders in effectively using technology. His blog, A Principal's Reflections, was selected as Best School Administrator Blog in 2011 by Edublogs.
comments powered by Disqus
Tweets
Photo GalleriesView All Galleries >
Acer C720-2844 Chromebook

(www.acer.com) The Acer C720-2844 Chromebook model delivers speedy performance, a quick boot time of seven seconds, and a matte anti-glare display tha...

Britannica ImageQuest

(www.britannica.com) Britannica Digital Learning has upgraded ImageQuest, a resource for schools and libraries that provides nearly three million rig...

ClassFlow

(www.classflow.com) Promethean has released ClassFlow, a free, all-in-one, cloud-based teaching tool that lets teachers create and deliver interactive...

Adobe Voice

(www.adobe.com) Adobe has released Adobe Voice, an animated video app for the iPad that lets users create and share video stories. The app incorporate...

DeskBoard

(www.boxlight.com) The BOXLIGHT DeskBoard mobile cart adjusts both height and tilt for the P8 ultra short throw interactive projector on a white surfa...

Core 36M

(www.bretford.com) Bretford has introduced Core 36M, a 36-unit charging cart that is optimized for Chromebooks but which also supports most tablets, l...

Edmentum Sensei

(www.edmentum.com) Edmentum Sensei is a mobile optimized solution that helps administrators visualize and track overall school, teacher, and student p...

HMH Player

(www.hmhco.com) HMH has released HMH Player, a new native app for iOS and Google Chrome that streamlines the learning experience for improved digital ...

Juice Power System

(www.bretford.com) Bretford has unveiled an easy-to-use modular power system with exchangeable power components. The Juice Power System uses unique &#...

LightSail

(www.lightsailed.com) LightSail Education has announced a literacy accelerator that combines books with in-text embedded assessments and real-time dat...

myON

(www.myon.com) myON has expanded its digital library to include a set of literacy tools to further personalize the reading experience for students whi...

Nervanix Clarity

(www.nervanix.com) Nervanix has released Clarity, an application that monitors student attention levels as they study and guides them to revisit conce...

MathBall

(www.robotslab.com) RobotsLAB has introduced MathBall, a smart sensor basketball and tablet system that offers curricula in algebra, pre-calculus, phy...

MobileAsset.EDU

(www.waspbarcode.com) Wasp Barcode’s MobileAsset.EDU solutions include everything administrators need to account for their assets, from software...

OpenEd Assessment Creation Tool

(www.opened.io) OpenEd has announced a free tool that lets teachers easily create assessments with the question types required by Common Core standard...

Panasonic TH-80LFB70U

(www.panasonic.com) Panasonic’s TH-80LFB70U interactive LED display features high-speed, multi-touch, interactive capabilities to promote partic...

penveu interactive display system

(www.penveu.com) The penveu interactive display system is a handheld device that turns projectors and large screen displays into interactive whiteboar...

PresentationPro

(www.califone.com) Califone has updated its PresentationPro speaker. The PA310 readily connects with computers, LCD projectors, mobile devices, intera...

PowerSync+ Mobile Companion App

(www.bretford.com) Bretford Manufacturing, Inc. has announced the availability of the companion app for its PowerSync+ enabled charge and sync produc...

PureCharge Carts and Stations for iPad

(www.bretford.com) Bretford Manufacturing, Inc. has debuted the PureCharge family of iPad and iPad mini charging carts and stations. By offering pre-i...

ProQuest Research Companion

(www.proquest.com) ProQuest’s new information literacy product, Research Companion, offers videos that guide users through the research process,...

Sphere2 & Class Send Student Engagement Software Platform

(www.averusa.com) AVer Information has developed a Student Engagement platform, providing teachers and students with the tools to transmit document ca...

TabChargeCT2

(www.averusa.com) AVer has released the TabChargeCT2 charge cart solution, which can hold up to 40 Chromebooks, iPads, Android or Windows tablets, lap...

VoiceLift with Instant Alert and Emergency Video Monitoring

(www.extron.com) The Instant Alert function of the Extron VoiceLift Microphone, combined with a PoleVault, WallVault, or PlenumVault classroom AV sys...

SMART Board 6065

(www.smarttech.com) The SMART Board 6065 is an ultra HD, 4K interactive flat panel that offers collaborative capabilities while ensuring lessons run s...

Gaggle Unity Partner Program

(www.gaggle.net) The new Gaggle Unity Partner Program provides free data integration services for all educational technology vendors. Through the Gagg...

Waterford Early Learning, Reading, Math & Science

(www.waterford.org) Waterford Early Learning Cloud can be used at home or to supplement lessons in classrooms. It can also be used for individual adap...

NetSupport School

(www.netsupportschool.com) The latest version of NetSupport School allows teachers to monitor and collaborate with any mix of technology. An enhanced ...

Camtasia

(www.techsmith.com/camtasia) TechSmith’s Camtasia gives teachers the tools to record lessons, create videos, and engage their audiences. Educato...

Panasonic 3E

(www.panasonic.com) Intel has teamed up with Panasonic to announce the Panasonic 3E, which uses the Intel Education 2-in-1 reference design. Designed ...