Taking Risks

In Michael Fullen’s 2001 book, Leading a Culture of Change, he describes how school principal, Keith McClure, successfully led his school in a three year technology integration project.  Fullen says “Mr. McClure showed leadership by supporting and participating…  He also encouraged collaboration and a little fun along the way, was respectful of what teachers were learning and trying, and was flexible with time and the curriculum… He modeled the behaviors he sought in [his staff] and created a culture of change by encouraging risk taking.”  I cannot overstate the importance of this last part.

The technology tools we are beginning to use in our curriculum are so new we cannot rely on a history of experience to guide our use.  We are pioneers, trying to find effective and productive ways to implement blogs, wikis, and other web tools.  Along with thousands of teachers around the globe, we are handling iPads in the classroom for the first time, sometimes with less experience than our students.  The very nature of our task requires risk-taking.  And it is not just with how we use the tools.  It is also taking a risk with how we use students’ time.

Does this Mama Duck have any feelings of trepidation as she leads her ducklings away from her nest and onto the Lower School playground?

It takes courage to step out of our comfort zones, to try something different from the tried and true methods of the past.  Part of our job as educators is to prepare our students for a productive life in the world in which they will live and work.  The work world of today already requires digital literacy skills.  So as we begin a year of using new tools, let’s support each other on our journey.  It is guaranteed that not every lesson we plan using iPads will go smoothly.  It is a given that we will see student blog posts that make us gasp.  Wiki pages will be erased  and replaced by accident.  We will go in the wrong direction and have to stop, rethink, recalculate, start again.  That is all part of the process and it is up to us to make it a learning process.  Take time to reflect on your steps and missteps with your colleagues… and with the students.  We are on a journey.  If we don’t take the steps to get started, we will be in the same place in June as we are today.  I am confident that, though our path might not be as straight as we might wish, we will get to a better place in the end.




Categories: School Change, Technology | Tags: , | Leave a comment

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