Thursday, January 1, 2015

Becoming a Digital Leader

2014 was the year I committed to becoming a digital leader. I was inspired by Peter DeWitt and Eric Sheninger, respected principal educators as well as bloggers and digital leaders. I was especially touched that despite their large following and super-busy schedules, they took the time to respond to questions or comments I asked them. Here is a recap of my year as a digital leader.
  • I continued to blog, and I am becoming more comfortable about sharing my thoughts with the public. Since I committed to blogging two years ago, I have become more confident about using this venue to reflect and to communicate about my thoughts and my experiences as a leader. 
  • Our faculty meetings and professional development days were opportunities to flip the meetings by asking teachers to read and respond to an article or blog ahead-of-time.  We used these staff times to practice using different tools to collaborate and communicate with our colleagues. Teachers were leaders and learners, sharing their expertise with other staff, and I was an active learner and participant along with everyone.
  • Google+ became our preferred method of sharing with our staff and having them share as well.  It was great to see our teachers posting articles or blogs they found interesting and starting a discussion via Google+. We also shared photos of successful classroom lessons or activities - it was so wonderful to see the learning that was going on in our classrooms! 
  • I still have much to learn, but I am becoming more comfortable about using Google Drive and Google Docs with our staff.  In fact, I presented at my first GAFE Summit this past year on "Building Relationships Using GAFE." I know that GAFE is constantly upgrading and adding new features; I need to make time to learn how to more effectively use these tools to be more efficient and organized.
  • I was a guest on several Hangouts (EdTech Mixed Plate and  Google Rocks! Hawaii Hangouts on Air) this past year to share our experiences integrating technology at our school. I also was part of a panel to discuss educational leadership and empowering schools. I was honored to be asked to participate and to share with others through this venue.
  • I've had my Twitter account for a number of years, but this year, I realized the power of Twitter as a professional development tool.  My personal and professional networks are expanding and I now view Twitter as a great resource. I make time each day to check for tweets that I am interested in reading or that have relevance to me as a school leader. 
  • Social media is an important means of communicating with our families. We have a Facebook page with regular updates and photos. We update our Twitter feed and include photos of what is going on in our classrooms. We have two blogs - Hale Kula Highlights is sent out weekly and informs parents of upcoming events and activities, and we have a blog to update our families about our construction project. Our parents share that they get a lot of information via social media. In fact, we hold our semi-annual School Community Meetings virtually through a Facebook event, and we now have more participation and input than ever before.
  • This past year, I participated in edchathi and edcamphonolulu, and I was able to attend the International Society for Technology in Education Conference in Atlanta.  These events motivate me to continue my journey as a digital leader and provided me with valuable ideas and resources that I might use personally or with our staff and colleagues.
  • A chance response to a blog resulted in a presentation to our complex area school teams by Eric Sheninger when he was here in Hawaii on vacation.  It was one of the best professional development sessions, I've attended, and  I look forward to a follow-up session this coming spring with our District principals.  
  • Our six-year accreditation term is ending in 2015, and we are preparing for our visit in March 2015. Our entire WASC report was collaboratively created using Google Docs, and all of our evidences are in a Google Site. It is hard work, but this is truly a team effort and one that would not be possible if our school were not ready, technology-wise. 
  • I decided to create a digital portfolio for my principal evaluation in a Google Site.  It was a challenge for me; I was often frustrated and I made lots of mistakes, but in the end, I was proud that I persevered and was able to share my evidences in this format. 
I am looking forward to 2015 to continue my journey as a digital leader. I will continue to share my thoughts and reflections via my blog.  I have a list of web sites or apps I want to explore, and I will continue to encourage teachers to try new ideas and to share their learnings with their colleagues and with me.  Finally, I want to motivate my colleagues to step out of their comfort zones and become digital leaders at their schools.  If I can learn, so can they.  If the problem is time, then as Eric Sheninger states in this blog, we need to stop making excuses and instead make time to do what is important.

2015, here I come!

#Peter DeWitt
#Eric Sheninger

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