As part of our Board capacity building program, we offered 2 full day sessions for our school administrators and instructional leaders with George Couros. George’s session aligned perfectly with our system plan and Ontario school improvement framework. The timing of our sessions also support the global work of Connected Educator Month

George is very personable in front of a crowd, and that in itself helped drive home one of the key messages of the day – the human connection. His approach captured and reinforced an important message in my recent blog post providing a perspective on technology enabled learning. It is NOT about the technology itself. It IS about the human connection: how we connect, develop relationships, learn, support the learning journey of others and reflect. Technology plays a powerful role in the “C’s” – communicate, collaborate, citizenship and character development, creating and critical questions.

The “C’s” provide connectors for us to learn, tell our story or tell the story of our school or system. The “C’s” help us connect beyond our school and system. We gain a wider perspective on innovation and best practices from educational counterparts around the world. Who can better tell your/your school story than you, the administrator and instructional leader?

Through personal and heart warming examples, George shared a journey that connected the dots on the benefits of becoming connected. In the end, the tools themselves, and the technology involved, was simply that – a mechanism to get to the relationships and the story. Tools that supported the journey included Twitter, Google tools (docs, hangouts, youtube etc.), Ted Talks. Use the tools to make your job more streamlined. Deal with information once: Google doc vs word processor to pdf to email for example.

One can not under estimate the value of developing a personal learning network (PLN) to give you access to sharing, resources, problem solving, exchange ideas, thinking and best practices and asking questions – all part of telling your story. I really enjoyed George’s analogy to using your PLN to ask questions and source the wisdom of the PLN crowd to lighting up the “Bat Signal” – a call for help, information, collaboration etc. – awesome!

Dovetailed with blogging, you have a powerful method of communicating your story to a real world audience. This journey certainly does require one to step into the role of the learner and that in itself may be one of the most powerful things that you do as an instructional leader. People around you will benefit from watching you learn, ask critical questions, share through blogging & other means, and shape your thinking.

Sounds like this could be messy – right? So what – learning is messy, and that is simply OK. Why wouldn’t it be messy? Process vs end result. This journey does require that you put your self out there and demonstrate transparency in what you are doing. And just like the first time skier on the 60 foot run (reference to video) – go for it — it is just a little longer and faster than the 20 foot run.

You can do it.

Take action.

Start building your network by spending a few minutes a day on Twitter. Commit 10-15 minutes daily – that is all it takes to get started. Commit to contributing to your board/district hashtag.

See you online in the “Twitterverse” and “Blogosphere”.

About markcarbone

CIO, Waterloo Region District School Board
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