mccoyderek

Digital Tools as Difference Makers – Your Blog

I’ve had some recent conversations with some of my PLN members about how digital tools are helping me make a difference in my practice. Its always an honor to share some aspects of what I do with others. Its gives me a great sense of community to engage in these real, share conversations but I also benefit from these opportunities to share because they give me the opportunity to reflect on not only what I am doing but some of the other aspects these tools bring to my administrative function.

One conversation this week was about blogging. I was sharing my personal journey as a blogger with a principal here in NC, a newly connected learner and [hopefully after our conversation] a prospective blogger. I shared with him my need to overcome my hangups about writing to get to the real need and goal for my blog – to be a resource to my teachers and school. I am not a prolific blogger like many of my PLN but I do rely on my blog for several critical reasons.

Voice & Vision

We all have conversations with teachers and community members about what we are trying to do in our classrooms and school to have a positive effect on learning and teaching – this is an ongoing function of school leaders in and out of the classroom. So between and after conversations with our stakeholders what serves as a placeholder for the conversations we have? What can serve as the place to go to get a question answered as far as what is this principal/teacher/educator trying to accomplish? The blog is a great tool to not only share your thoughts but to paint a very clear picture of what your organization is about, what the goals are and where we are headed.

For several years I had a personal blog where I recorded experiences and thoughts about what I was thinking and doing to make a difference. Earlier this year at the @NASSP conference, I had a chance to meet Dwight Carter @Dwight_Carter, 2013 Digital Principal of the Year. One of the great conversations we had was on blogging, specifically how he not only maintains his personal blog Mr Carter’s Office, but also his weekly blog for his school and staff filled with announcements and resources and a blog to keep his community informed about what is going on. Hearing and seeing this made me rethink my communication efforts. I always ask myself what else can I do help my teacher and staff and this was a small consideration. What a great way to celebrate, inform, inspire and lead groups!

My NC colleague shared how he creates weekly and biweekly newsletters. With this transition, he will be able to maximize on the archiving and search features of the blog – his staff and community will be simple searches away from accessing and re-accessing difference making information.

Resources

I shared my new school blog in our discussion and what drew the most conversation was the resource section. In every blog, after our celebration and upcoming events, I make sure to share resources that I have gathered from my PLN over the week that I think will make a difference with our instructional goals. These are mix of blogs, articles, infographics – anything that reinforces recent conversations and past and future trainings we have had in the school. This is section has helped reduce the number of emails I send out to my staff through the week [I’ve been told I may have a problem]. One of the best examples of this that I’ve seen is from Jason Markey @JasonMMarkey, 2014 Digital Principal of the Year. Check out his central hub site – from here he links to all the resources and communication blogs for his school. From here you can clearly see a focus on keeping everyone informed and keeping everyone resourced.

The different aspects and benefits of a good blog can’t be spoken of enough. It starts with intention – making a difference. I am fortunate to have some great examples in my PLN that I can continuously learn from and share with others in their journey.

Panel Discussion with ISTE and US Dept of Ed – ConnectEDucators

This week, I had the pleasure and privilege of participating in an online panel discussion about present/future critical needs of schools and educators.

ISTE Panel

ISTE originated and hosted this open reflection on our need to understand and drive support for the #ConnectEDucator initiative. #ConnectedEducator is proposal from President Obama’s administration to provide substantial funding for professional development in the area of  technology training for educators. Here’s more about the ConnectEDucator Initiative in this ISTE post.

Hilary Goldman, @hgoldmann, was the organizer for this event. The other panelists included Brian Lewis @blewisiste [CEO ISTE], Richard Culatta @rec54 [Director of the Office of Educational Technology, US Dept of Education @OfficeofEdTech], Wendy Drexler @WendyDrexler [Chief Innovation Officer ISTE],  and Dyane Smokorowski @Mrs_Smoke [2013 Kansas Teacher of the Year/Technology Integration Specialist]. I was proud to be a representative of #NASSP as one of the 2014 Digital Principals.

This was great share experience! Between the chat room and Tweets, there were lots of active sharers and participants who were enthusiastic to lend an ear and provide a question or suggestion for the group on how we can garner support and grow understanding for this needed initiative. Connected educators know the need and value of providing resources and training for our new endeavors in digital education and leadership.

Below are some resources that will get you up to speed on this initiative and our sharing!

Resources:

 

I can’t thank ISTE, Hilary, Brian, Richard, Wendy and Dyane for this experience. This worthy cause deserves everyone’s attention and voice! Please pass this on to other educators and ask that they lend their voice in making sure our schools, teachers and students get the resources we need to improve learning and teaching in our schools.

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