A shared vision to support student learning

Throughout the EduBloggersphere Scott McLeod has encouraged bloggers to write about leadership for Leadership Day 09. How do we help those in leadership positions understand …

  • what it means to prepare students for the 21st century;
  • how to recognize, evaluate, and facilitate effective technology usage by students and teachers;
  • what appropriate technology support structures (budget, staffing, infrastructure) look like or how to implement them;
  • how to utilize modern technologies to facilitate communication with internal and external stakeholders;
  • the ways in which learning technologies can improve student learning outcomes;
  • how to utilize technology systems to make their organizations more efficient and effective

Teaching in a small Catholic high school where the leadership team consists of a few members with no larger school district or bureaucratic system has its advantages and disadvantages.  As a classroom teacher I am allowed a lot of freedom and ownership of my classroom.  We are considered “professionals” who are hired in our expertise area.  I can constantly reevaluate my instructional practices to focus on student learning and creating an environment that is conducive to collaboration and sharing.  It’s easier to make changes in my own domain, but harder throughout the school or Archdiocese.

The disadvantage of this system is that teachers can become very isolated and focused on their own subject area.  Socially, the teachers get along but there are various degrees of support or encouragement between departments and with other schools.

The one area of leadership that I would love to focus on is a shared vision for supporting student learning.  I believe that this type of shared vision is essential for moving forward as a school.  Are we engaging our students to be critical and passionate thinkers?  Do our students have a love of learning and sharing?  How are we assessing our students in authentic and relevant ways?  While individually I am sure many of our teachers are addressing these questions – what are we doing as a school to encourage and create a shared vision among our whole staff and how are they being implemented?  And another question I have for myself if “What is my role as a “traditional” technology instructor to infuse technology into every subject area and support learning?”

I find it very challenging to lead from the middle of the pack.  On one hand I want to model effective teaching practices using technology but without shared planning time or regular Professional Development – opportunities for sharing just don’t exist.  Many students learn valuable technology skills in my classes and then have a hard time using those skills in other subject areas.  Due to recent cutbacks, positions have eliminated from our school and funds for outside PD have been scaled back.

So, I guess this post really is what I hope to achieve as a “leader” in my school – especially in regards to technology and supporting student learning:

  1. I am thrilled to work with the middle school teachers this coming school year to systematically plan and infuse technology into the curriculum and give suggestions how it can support what the students are already studying.  My dream would that this would be a model of how my “Computer Applications” course will be moved into the regular curriculum.
  2. With the help of a newly formed PD team, plan and conduct (optional) professional development workshops throughout the school year for our faculty – ones that focus not only on technology, but also on assessment, questioning strategies, Project Based Learning, etc..
  3. Share how being involved in my own PLN has shaped and challenged my own views of student learning and has encouraged me to grow as a teacher.
  4. Continue to attend the monthly Archdiocese Technology Teachers meetings and encourage this group to develop workshops that serve the entire Archdiocese.

As I am writing these, I am stuck how ambitious my plans are but I hope to create some sort of synergy and excitement around what we are trying to accomplish.  One of my biggest take aways from NECC09 was the importance of community when conducting Professional Development.  Our small school community has that advantaged – we already do have a sense of community – now to just to move our vision forward so we are all working towards the same goals.

Read more about Leadership Day 09

3 Replies to “A shared vision to support student learning”

  1. More than any technology tool or platform, you are focused on helping others value the “learning” in PLN, Colette.

    “Share how being involved in my own PLN has shaped and challenged my own views of student learning and has encouraged me to grow as a teacher.”

    This step towards changing the culture of your building seems to me like the beginning of the ideal process towards improving student learning. Once a more “open” mindset is in place, the technology tools may not seem like as much of a burden either, because they become just another part of moving towards a shared goal.

  2. Colette, having a sense of community is a powerful advantage that can be leveraged into helping you achieve your goals.

    Remember, that you “community” extends into the the “collaborative” that is your PLN. We, they, are always a means of support for you and your goals.

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