The Ever Changing Role in Digital Leadership cont’d
This blog continues on from the Overview – https://www.iwb.net.au/the-ever-changing-role-in-digital-leadership/
- Create – sense of urgency The Digital World surrounds us all and as our students enter our sites they have already been exposed to a vast array of digital tools. The students come to school with this background swell of digital access and in some instances are forced to leave the digital tools behind as they begin their educational learning journey. It is with this dilemma that I “Create the sense of Urgency” for staff at my site. I provide my staff with short current articles which support the movement of Digital Tools to enhance student learning and teacher pedagogy. This simple approach allows staff to see that the way in which we have taught in the past must change to support the students of now.
- Build – a guiding coalition With the realisation that the digital world is within our reach and that our students are at risk of ‘missing out’ a select few staff began to seize the moment and begin to question the changes needed in teacher pedagogy to employ digital tools to enhance the learning outcomes for all, including themselves as educators. This is the group I turned my focus to. We began with small group meetings (2-3) staff to share early thoughts and potential possibilities using digital tools in their classrooms. The group was able to pose important questions in a non-judgemental environment where no one had the answers but instead posed more questions. This group was provided time to explore possible solutions, investigate possible site directions and implications, dabble in their classrooms and enlist the most resource at their disposal – their students! This group was my guiding coalition! This was the first group of teachers to attend the IWB Leading a Digital School with me and not just my leadership team!
- Form – a strategic vision So we have the urgency created, a guiding coalition but that was not enough to lead the digital ‘revolution’ at my site. The energies were high and new found learning being trialled, but what for, where was this going to head, what were the intentions, and how will we know we were making a difference for our students? This was the defining moment for me as a leader in my site. Through the careful planning and ‘planting of seeds’ the digital leadership had begun to sprout. It was clear that a purpose and vision had to be defined and had to be embraced by those willing to guide the digital change required. Through the small group meetings, I was able to support the group to identify what a digital school would look like, sound like and feel like. At this point, it was time to dream big and set a vision for our site. We broke the vision down into 3 parts; our 10-year vision, 5-year vision, 1-year vision! From this point the group had defined the strategic vision for our site, no bars hold!
- Enlist – a volunteer army This is the time, as the leader, to engage with the staff who are willing to ‘have a go’, be the risk takers. The guiding coalition formed the initial wave of change agents with a few extra staff who had now been enticed into the, as stated by them, “the digital secrecy group!!!” As the leader I sat alongside each staff member learning, exploring, creating and developing an understanding with them and their students but always providing the guiding questions of “How will this improve student learning outcomes?” and “What are the implications for improving teacher pedagogical practice with digital tools?” This was the exciting time within our digital ‘revolution’ as staff and students flourished, failed, tried, created, explored, designed, embraced, even discarded digital technologies. This was the wheel beginning to turn and many more passengers began to climb on board and explore the digital train!
- Enable – action by removing barriers With the staff and students actively embracing the new digital change, as the leader, it was key to remove any barriers in order for staff to truly see that the change was possible. School budgets were scrutinised to open up funding for the exploration and creativity to increase digital tool access to staff and students. Control over app installation, filtering, software settings and installation all handed over to the teachers. No longer did my staff need to wait for the IT guy to install a program, unblock a website or online program. My leadership in this supported staff to understand that there was nothing to break and that all would be good because we had a backup copy!!!! Not only enabling the staff and students to be the thoughtful risk takers but providing time for staff to meet with one another and explore, share and dialogue the effect the digital tools were having on their teaching practice and student learning outcomes gave rise to the second wave of wannabes!
- Generate – short term wins Any good digital leader knows that short term gains support the continued growth towards the big audacious goals. It is this momentum and recognition which unleashed the fire in many of the staff at my site. Sending my staff to the Leading a Digital School Conferences over many years has supported staff to come to the realisation that their dabbling, experimenting and implementing digital technologies within their pedagogy provide their students with a deeply enhanced curriculum. Staff were encouraged to celebrate their successes with their peers, share their achievements and presented their best pedagogical practises which had embedded digital ICTs.
- Sustain – acceleration As the digital leader of my site and through the empowerment and ownership of staff, digital technologies & pedagogies became embedded within our site improvement plan, leading to whole staff engagement with digital tools specifically tailored to the individual needs of each staff member. Staff planned and ran their own professional learning sessions and included targeted pedagogical practice sharing where digital technologies had enhanced student learning. The focus questions now became how do you use digital technologies and how does it enhance the learning for all your students? This continued to create excitement and commitment from all staff to embrace digital technologies within their classroom programs in order to challenge and engage students in a rich and meaningful global curriculum.
- Institute – change From the initial spark grew the ever burning flame increasing in intensity over time. The digital change had arrived and as the Digital Leader at my site, it was important for the focus of digital tools and technology to be embedded within all aspects of our school and community where it is seen as part of the culture of the site and an expectation that the students are globally connected learners. This remains the paramount focus in digital leadership to further enhance student learning outcomes in a global digital world at my site. This supports the drive to maintain the effective change cycle.
Given that this is one of many change models, as a leader of a digital school, this model provides a useful holistic approach to moving forward with digital leadership and digital technologies at any point within your own site’s journey. For me, the digital school leadership story begins once again as I embark on a change journey in a new site where the dinosaurs still roam! So join me at the Leading a Digital School Conference on the Sunshine Coast where I will present my journeys both past and present in my workshop……OMG I’m Back in the Dark Ages. Again!!