In a previous post, I talked about the power of reflection and using the 8 Characteristics of the Innovator’s Mindset as a useful framework from which start focusing thoughts. Over the Term 2 holiday, I had some time to stop. To slow down. And to reflect upon my own practice. I took my own challenge of not only reflecting, but also planning for the next half of the school year. And I have to say, taking this time to reflect and plan was incredibly useful. It helped me to see things I missed, clarify ideas I had, and probably the most useful was to identify the things I could do better.
To start, I began at looking back on some notes I had taken while meeting with people I had met in my first months at Kristin. I also returned to the notes I had taken while reading The Innovators Mindset. This book has had a pretty big impact on my thinking about innovation and schooling. I refer to it often and recommend it to everyone.
In Chapter 5: Learn, Lead, Innovate of The Innovators Mindset, I felt particularly called out. I felt like George Couros and I were sitting down, having a coffee and he was speaking directly to me. And it hurt. Yet it was honest. In this chapter, Couros was laying out traits of an innovative leader. He talks about how innovation really is a human endeavour and as leaders, we need to focus on building strong relationships with those we work with. I couldn’t agree more. In my previous positions one thing I prided myself on was the relationships I was able to build. I still collaborate with former colleagues and I am a better teacher, administrator and human because of them. Then, I read this paragraph. And – to be totally honest – I was gutted.
Couros writes, “It is easy to lock yourself in an office, connect with people on Twitter and appear from your room with some great idea or new thing. If you want to be an innovative leader, [sic] your role isn’t simply to come up with new and better ideas but to involve your staff in that mission.”
In just a few sentences, George nailed exactly what I’ve been doing for the past few months. In my quest to educate myself about the NZ education system and the IB curriculum, connect with and learn from educational leaders in our region, learn from what others in the K-12 world are doing in their schools, and trying to come up with some awesome new ideas, I’ve lost sight of building amazing relationships here at Kristin and bringing my learning back to the Kristin Community. I was spending too much time in my office reading, researching and learning. All incredibly important parts of my work for sure – but there needs to be a balance. Couros is right – 100%. To be a leader, you must build relationships. And the most important relationships are at your own school.
So, let’s start there. With that revelation, I pulled out the 4 reflection questions that I had previous put forward. The answers to these questions are also a brainstorm for moving forward.
What have I done well so far this year? Why did it go well?
Worked with the LMS team to identify a new LMS solution that is a good fit for Kristin
Have been able to provide expertise and leadership about digital technology choice and implementation
Have established relationships with a few key stakeholders at Kristin
Have participated in the larger Kristin Community (Duke of Ed, Quiz Night, etc)
Completed my Apple Teacher certification (as our JS is a Distingished Apple School)
These have been successful for different reasons. First, I have years of Digital Learning experience that I able to draw from. I believe I do a fairly good job of listening to current need and am able to respond to current situations using this experience but making sure it fits the current context.
As laid out above, relationships are key. Those I feel I have I have been able to establish relationships with are those I have identified as key – and have worked to establish those relationships. There are also others who have made themselves known to me and have worked to establish a working relationship.
I believe in being connected to my colleagues and place of work. Therefore, I have sought out opportunities to that would allow me to connect with the community outside the normal workday. This has been an incredibly rewarding part of my job.
Where do I need to grow? What resources do I need to help me achieve this?
- I need to grow my campus presence.
- I need to spend more time with teachers. Learning what they are doing, what they would like help with and how we might work together.
- I need to spend more time getting to know the curriculum leads, HoF’s and principals in order to better understand our successes, challenges and also how we might align our visions across the 3 schools.
I need to allocate the time to do this and I need to make contacts with those who can help me get in touch with the right people to start these conversations.
What things will I challenge myself with for the remaining part of the year?
For the remainder of this year I will:
Continue to build relationships with all those in the Kristin community. Get myself out there and known. This includes (but is not limited to):
- tech mentoring
- open office hours for drop in questions
- shadowing teachers for a day
- attending strategic meetings
- continue blogging about what is happening at Kristin
- Implement the new LMS while involving all stakeholders
- Work with key groups to establish norms for Digital Learning at Kristin. This will start with work on Digital Citizenship for all students and staff and having a look at the new digital curriculum.
How will all of these answers impact the learners I serve?
- Building relationships builds trust. I am hoping these steps will help to build trust with the community so I may be better able to provide relevant, customised, and ongoing support.
- Having teachers feeling supported in their use of digital technologies will help them feel confident to try new ideas, pedagogies or technologies which we hope will increase student learning. And if not – hey – at least we tried and can go back to the drawing board.
- I hope this can create a culture of innovation and learning. One that is based on trying and learning rather than one that is static and compliant.
So, what do you think? What have I missed? What is on target? I would value your thoughts, feedback and ideas. Together we can learn.