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Our Collective Responsibility

We have an obligation to our students to invest in digital connections.  They are counting on relevance and our connectivity as educators will facilitate the systemic transformation that’s of critical importance.  Isolation in education is a choice and it is NOT best for kids.

Bulbs

This past week I spent several hours replacing a section of lights on our family’s Christmas tree.  Each burned out bulb required removal and some intricate rewiring…which necessitated a lot of searching amidst the artificial branches laden with clusters of needles and burned out bulbs.

When all was said and done, I triumphantly summoned my wife to view the grand re-lighting of our Christmas tree.  As I plugged each successive string of lights back into the socket I beamed with pride.  It worked…all of the lights were back on.  Then my wife pointed out a blaring discrepancy.  The 50+ lights I had toiled to replace were completely different than the tree’s original bulbs.  How could I have missed it?!

I took a step back to confirm what she noticed immediately. I had been so immersed in the work of replacing an individual section of bulbs that I had isolated my focus on one section of the tree to the detriment of the whole.

Tree lights
Many analogies could be drawn here, but I equate this experience to our educational system.  It is critical that we work together and take time to connect and collaborate with stakeholders working in different states and capacities.  The quality of education we provide each and every student is our collective responsibility.  When educators connect kids win.

A system-wide paradigm shift is desperately needed.  The utility of an antiquated pedagogy and misguided assessment practices must also be reexamined.  Yet for each school or state that is entrenched in the status quo, there are countless others committed to real change; high achievement, creativity, and connectivity for each and every student.

It’s not about how brilliant any one classroom or school shines.  Our students deserve a system that serves them well and illuminates the path to being #FutureReady.  We can’t realize a paradigm shift working in isolation.

Educators and school leaders MUST cultivate the characteristic of “connectivity” to help realize real change and relevance.  Our kids are counting on us to tap into the brightest and most abundant resource available; each other.

Call to action: Commit to cultivating skills for the digital age using digital tools to collaborate.  Set-up a Twitter account and leverage it for professional learning.  Reflect upon the degree to which you’re providing learning experiences for students congruent with the tools and technology they are exposed to outside of school.  If you’re already serving as a “connected educator,” provide support to a friend that has not connected yet.

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How might WE learn?

Digital Leadership Badge

Educators spend a significant amount of time reflecting on pedagogy to support an engaging student learning experience, and rightfully so.  How much time do school leaders spend planning and preparing to support 21st century professional learning?  How might we enhance the HOWs, WHATs, and WHYs for learning in this digitally connected age?

In the next month I’ll be sharing an interactive Digital Leadership Challenge designed to support HOW we learn.  The Digital Leadership Challenge article will be titled “Driven to Collaborate.”  It will feature creative mini-challenges submitted by ten connected educators across the country.  The article and accompanying mini-challenges is being published by the Minnesota Elementary Principal Association (#MESPAmn) and shared electronically via multiple sources including this blog.

We’ll be using a tiered system to ensure that regardless of where you are at on your Digital Leadership journey there will be accessible entry-points to learn and grow.  We’ve also created a cool point-system with electronic badges that will be awarded based on the challenges you complete.  I’m really excited by the inspiring variety of learning opportunities that will be outlined in the article.  Please encourage your colleagues to dial in to this unique, 21st century PD opportunity.

Watch for the article the 1st week in May.  Special thanks to the amazing educators that collaborated on the Digital Leadership Challenge.

Mini-Challenge Submissions:

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Curt Rees, Elementary Principal, WI

@CurtRees on Twitter

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Patrick Glynn, Elementary Principal, MN

@GallyGopher on Twitter

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Jessica Johnson, Elementary Principal, WI

@PrincipalJ on Twitter

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Tony Sinanis, Elementary Lead Learner, NY

Joe Sanfelippo, District Superintendent, WI

@TonySinanis & @Joesanfelippofc on Twitter 

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Dwight Carter, HS Principal, OH

@Dwight_Carter on Twitter

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Dave Zukor, Integration Specialist, MN

@DZukor on Twitter

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Rafranz Davis, Instructional Technology Specialist, TX

@RafranzDavis on Twitter

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Daisy Dyer Duerr, PreK – 12 Principal, AR

@DaisyDyerDuerr on Twitter

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Terri Eichholz, Teacher of K – 5 Gifted Students, TX

@TerriEichholz on Twitter

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Eric Sheninger, High School Principal, NJ

@NMHS_Principal 

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