Sunday, March 22, 2015

DigiLit Sunday: Why Leaders Should Be Connected

Not too long ago we received an email from our superintendent titled:  Follow Your Passion.  Apparently he sensed the apprehension growing over upcoming mandated testing.  The email was several paragraphs in length and sent to remind us to stay focused on what we do.  Here's a piece of the letter:  
"Don't allow outside forces to compromise your classroom environment, building culture, or faith in yourself.  Good teaching trumps all... teach well and let the tests take care of themselves.  Be true to your passion and true to your students."  Dr. John Marschhausen
This was a timely email, perhaps a result of a growing anxiousness about testing that seemed to be starting to build in buildings and even in social media.  We have been fortunate in the last few years to have leaders working to stay connected using email, blogging platforms, Google, VoiceThread, and social media, among other digital tools.  As a teacher in a large district, I appreciate the time leaders take to stay connected.

It didn't seem uncommon, years ago, to sit in a meeting and hear about a new initiative that seemed to just come from nowhere.  It was hard to process it all.  All of a sudden there would be something new we were doing, and as a teacher you worked to catch up to it.  It didn't seem uncommon to talk to teachers in one building who had different information than we had in another building.  Leaders made a good effort to keep everyone informed, but information shared in meetings and through people will arrive in different ways and at different times.  It feels different now with leaders staying connected; messages are more consistent.

Not only are messages more consistent, but it is easy to see the unfolding of ideas across time.  Many of our technology, curriculum, and administrative leaders have started to share and collaborate using Twitter.  I've found following these accounts and conversations has helped me to stay informed and continued to inspire me across the school year.  As district leaders have thought about developing a growth mindset, blended learning, digital literacy, personalization, grading practice, assessment, and re-visioning school, they've shared interesting articles they've discovered, new steps being considered, and ways to grow the work we do with children.  It is easy to see the collaboration and learning happening across the district.

In addition to supporting a journey of learning, they have helped to tell the story of the work we do.  They've shared the work of committees and the conversations in community meetings.  They've shared the stories of the many things happening throughout our district.  It's much easier to see the connectedness of our learning environments.

Finally, it would be easy in any district to get caught up in our own work and lose sight of envisioning new possibilities.  Connected leaders continue to grow in their own thinking as they have conversations and follow the thinking of colleagues around the globe.  Many have grown their personal learning networks and started to participate in larger conversations that push their thinking.  There's something exciting about being in a community where learning, sharing, and risk-taking are becoming common.  Connected leaders make a difference.  


  1. I really need to pay more attention to this DigLit Sunday posts. what a great piece about Connected Leaders. It truly does make a difference.
    It also makes me wonder if those of us in Teacher Leader positions have a bit of an obligation to stay connected as well. I think about my 4 buildings and making sure they all hear a consistent message; one not dependent on how I'm feeling or how my memory is working on any given day of the week. What does that look like? How do I stay consistent? As always, you have given me much food for thought.

  2. You are so right! It's so easy for buildings within a district to be disconnected, and it's a shame. We definitely need leaders to bridge the gap and keep collaboration alive! It's good for kids to have teachers all working toward similar goals.

  3. I wish I could send your infographic to our district leaders and administrators. It's not that they don't have the skill set. They are just too weighted down with mandates that change year to year. It's hard for them to keep up and to stay passionate. You seem to have a better situation in your state.