Reflection on Beginning a Digital Leadership Journey

Reflection on Beginning a Digital Leadership Journey

As we journeyed together in this Tech Integration Course over the past 18 weeks, we not only accomplished many fun and exciting tasks, but also were given an opportunity to network and collaborate with other colleagues! What I appreciate most about this class is getting to learn from the experiences of everyone else, and getting to collectively create and brainstorm together! What has become clearly evident is how important it is for all of us to constantly strive to be lifelong learners!

We shared ideas and feedback about Stakeholders, our Philosophy of Education, Classroom Management, Learning Tools, Curriculum Models, and Assessment. From today forward, our challenge is to become efficient and effective "Digital Leaders" who model and lead by example! What are the pillars upon which we will build, establish, improve and enhance our current model of district-wide leadership? If you think this task is too large to handle or that one person cannot possibly make a difference on a large scale, then it is imperative that you remember...."if you change nothing, nothing will change!" If you are happy with the status quo, then keep doing what you are doing and keep expecting the same outcomes to continue to appear. It is up to us to take learning to the next level! If we don't shoot for the moon, then who will? Sometimes it only takes bravery sprinkled with a little determination to make what seems an impossible feat, possible!

In order to become digital leaders, it is important that we look to the real digital leaders who are out there making a difference right now! Are you following digital leaders like Eric Sheninger, Vicki Davis, and Will Richardson? Are you creating a Professional Learning Network? Are you following Twitter chats and embracing social media tools that can build amazing professional connections? Are you trying to climb the SAMR ladder in order to someday completely "redefine" yourself and who you are as a digital leader? These are the questions that inspire me to take moments every day to reflect, to network, and to follow the postings of great leaders who are modeling and paving the way for those that will follow in their footsteps!

Although today is the last day of our journey together in this course, I consider it to be an inspirational refueling pit-stop in our path toward digital excellence. This weekend, Eric Sheninger's newly released book, "Digital Leadership" arrived in my mailbox. Although I am only 1/2 way through the book, I can hardly put it down! This is definitely a great read, an excellent way to end a Tech Integration course, and a great inspirational manual for all administrators and school leaders!

Meaningful Take-Away's So Far:

(Quotes from "Digital Leadership," by Eric Sheninger)

  • "Digital leadership is not an add-on, but a complement to everything that I do as a principal."
  • "Having the infrastructure in place is one thing; using it to advance learning and enhance other facets of leadership is another."
  • "Consistently engaging staff in brainstorming sessions in order to develop a collective vision of how to transform the school for the betterment of all students should be a routine practice."...."leaders must begin to map our collective responses that focus on positive solutions to the problems inherent in school culture."
  • "Digital leadership focuses on a consistent pursuit of innovation, effective integration of technology, quality professional development, transparency, celebration of successes from which others may learn, establishment of relationships with stakeholders, an open mind, and anticipation of continued change."
  • What a wonderful disposition! All too often, people look at technology as "one more thing I have to do," rather than a perfect complement to what they are ALREADY doing! It's not about doing something extra, it's about utilizing technology to ENHANCE the everyday tasks you are trying to accomplish!
  • Wow! Please re-read that statement! Always remember that a device is meaningless without the right reason to use it! We need to constantly strive to use the right tools for the right teachable moments! It's not about using a's about taking it to the next level, creating, publishing, collaborating, and beyond!
  • As a new administrator who was also new to the school district this year, I immediately focused on building relationships, listening to learn, and collecting feedback from staff regarding their stance on technology integration. You may click this survey link to view the survey I created for staff in the fall. I visited building after building on multiple occasions to collect feedback and to update staff on the timeline of addressing feedback and improvement efforts. Click here to view staff feedback diagrams and charts! In the next few years, I hope to glean the wisdom from other educational leaders, and to take these staff brainstorming sessions to the next level!
  • To be 100% honest and transparent, and to establish relationships with stakeholders, means keeping them informed at all times! These words of wisdom from Eric resonate very deeply with me in my professional journey this year. I try at all costs to be upfront, collaborative, open-minded, and transparent with my district regarding technology initiatives, vision, and direction. Click here to see our "Stakeholder Journey and Results from Staff Feedback."
  • In order to "anticipate continued change," focus on "pursuit of innovation," and ensure effective technology integration is happening, I believe that every district leader needs to stay at the forefront of technology and where it will take his or her district.
  • MSD Tech Hub: If I am asking my teachers to take "classroom websites to the next level," then it is imperative that I do the same! Each week I spend many hours dedicated to creatingTech Tips for Teachersand to keeping all site content updated and relevant!
  • Summer 2014 Google Bootcamp: In order to take learning to the next level, it is imperative that staff members have "quality professional development" opportunities! I have designed a series of Google Training sessions that will help to enhance the skills of our teachers, and to prepare them for full Chromebook integration. (Grades 6-12). This summer is just the beginning...where will our PD journey take us next? I sniff some "EdCamps" in our future!
  • Teacher Tech Integration Matrix: This coming school year, I am going to focus my efforts on CREATING LEADERS. In the fall, I will ask my teachers to self-evaluate their technology skills using the Teacher Tech Integration Matrix (designed by myself and Amy Neal: Technology Coach at DeKalb Central Schools- We will be presenting this Matrix at ICE in October 2014). Currently, I am working on putting together a program in which a teacher who reaches a Level 4 in any given matrix category, may apply to be a presenter in that area. Participants attending their session will attend PGP points, and I'm working on a creative incentive for the presenters themselves! It is time to celebrate the successes of teachers who are digital leaders in their classrooms! Time to showcase the awesome projects they are developing with students! Time to post links, embed ideas, and share fantastic quality training by teachers, for teachers!

Thank you, Eric Sheninger, and Technology Integration 101 Course, for inspiring me to build relationships, to focus on leading by example, and to embrace the power of a Professional Learning Network!

cross-posted at

Kelly Clifford is the Technology Coordinator for Metropolitan School District of Steuben County, Indiana. Read more at her blog