Image 1: What do you want kids to do with technology? (Unit 4)

tech in schools

Taken from Couros, G. (2015). The Innovator’s Mindset: Empower Learning, Unleash Talent, and Lead a Culture of Creativity

I choose image # 1 as my springboard for my comments about Edtech leadership issues at the school division level. There are many issues at our School Division level when it comes to properly using technology. I think we were on the right track in 2015, though due to budget cuts, I believe the necessity of it diminished in our school division. Focus on Edtech (form school division level) has fallen to the bottom of the list. I do not see these initiatives (from Regina Catholic and Sun West) happening like this in our school building and in our division. Though as Stephen mentioned in unit’s  video, tech innovations do not just come from board office or administrators. It can come from everyone within the school and I agree leadership can be distributed. Taking these risks with technology is important for the reason that technology allows for engagement as well as new learning will take place and allows learners and educators to think differently and maximize student success.

In EdTech we want to make awareness, to start conversations to find answers for our students questions, to change minds, to take action and to drive change, we need educators that are willing to take risks. It should not just fall on the administrator to lead this change.  Educators, tech leaders in the school that want to be the change to enhance student learning,  can also engage our students to become 21st century learners. Professional development that supports these initiatives needs to come about to support our learners and teachers from division level similar to whats going on with Regina Catholic and Sun West. This can be done with online learning or PD that the School division should consider supporting for educators who are passionate about Edtech.

For this week’s blog post we are to discuss some of the leadership principles that were effectively illustrated in Sun West’s and Regina Catholic approaches to EDTech innovation. (I have to be honest I was super impressed by these approaches!)

Sun West

Sun West has (PeBL) Personalized Electronically Blended Learning. After having listened to Guy Tetrault speak in his podcast, I was taken aback by all the amazing initiatives that their school division is leading.

Having student voice in their video made their message clear about the personalized learning that is taking place in their classrooms. It was explained that their classrooms encourage students to be unique in their learning and to take on what works best for them. It is also a student lead process where students have choice for personalized learning. I really was impressed that students set most of the goals and that the teacher is the mentor. The students are super engaged in this process for the reason that what they are learning prepares them for the real world.

Guy Tetrault discussed the importance that there is “buy in” from all levels of the school system. It’s a blended education where it is teacher led with online learning. There is of course a culture of leadership in the school that supports its educators and their pedagogy.   Furthermore, the school is focused and wants to ensure that students have access to all online learning that is available. To support this initiate at Sun West, all teachers are supported with tech coaches and PD while at the same time students have instruction that is blended and tailored to their needs. This provides many opportunities for both the teacher and the student through online learning.  

Educators in this program use differentiation with technology to support students learning which encourages personalized education. I was very surprised to hear that there are over 70 electives available for the middle years to high school students while at the same time, students are engaged and taking control of their own learning.  Sun West is leading the way in Canada and they are currently sharing and collaborating between other educators and other districts to build more programming with other schools.

What I found empowering after having listened to Guy Tetrault, was how students have this sense of ownership in their learning which changes their mindset.  At the same time, it’s increasing graduation rates for the reason that they are supporting student interest while at the same time keeping students more engaged.

Bart Cote (Regina Catholic Schools)

Bart Cote a digital design and training coach / principal is finding ways for teachers to use technology to enhance educational pedagogy. His leadership in his division is focused on 21st century learning, what students need to know to be a participant in the 21st century connected society. In his leadership he is using digital technologies to deepen student learning and promote digital citizenship.

Teachers are given technology in the classroom, while at the same time these teachers are given PD and learning what technology is useful in teacher pedagogy. It’s important that the educator asks: what is good teaching?  When we use technology is it efficient and authentic?

Their school division is using the 7 C’s when it comes to effective leadership skills in essential skills of 21st century learning. They are: connect, collaboration, curate, citizenship, communicate, critical thinking and create.

21st century learning

Image taken from Regina Catholic Schools: The 7 C’s of Essential Skills of 21st Century Learning

Their school division is using tech and the SAMR model to accomplish their goals. I was reminded that technology can be used for simple substitutions and can be used to redefine what is happening in the classroom and lessons. That technology can be used to enhance a lesson, but to only use technology when it fits with pedagogy.

Furthermore, their school division provides PD when their educators want to try new technology that supports their own technology goals. They RCS uses PD to support and enhance teaching and structural design.  The SAMR model is a tech journey that is different for all teachers. Teachers are using technology for inquiry based learning, genius hour and for various projects. They are also promoting and encouraging the leadership of their teachers, where they are connected and want to be involved in the change that supports students varied learning needs. 

samr

The SAMR model

I was reminded that as a leader, we need to continue to find ways to lead and innovate instead of trying to change the whole system.  Classrooms are a place of learning and as leaders, we need to be willing to take risks, and find ways to make a change. We have to be willing to learn, be a leader of change, have that constant passion and enthusiasm. Be willing to re-define education with technology that is meaningful for our students and for our pedagogy. 

I really enjoyed this Ted Talk video from G. Couros (brother to Dr. Couros) where he talks about encouraging our students to take risks with their own learning. Feel free to check it out when you have moment.

 

I am wondering from other classmates in this EDL 820, what image did you choose to comment on from Couros, G. (2015) about Edtech leadership issues at your school division?

Thanks.

Krista

 

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Disruptive Leadership

After having reviewed the articles and read about the 5C’s leadership approach, I am reminded that  it is important to have a voice and to be disruptive at the table. I confess I have shut down at times and have just done what I am told to do.

Leadership truly does take commitment, it is also important to build trust with those that surround me. To be a trustworthy leader it is important to make true connections with my fellow colleagues and to truly having their back. To be an effective leader I do believe that there has to be consistency and even with stress of our daily job, make sure to be approachable with my colleagues. Don’t pretend to be an expert. If I don’t know something I will let them know that I don’t know but that I will find the answer to support them.

As a second blog post for this week we were asked to look at five different articles, to choose a quote from each that resonated with us and to include a brief explanation of its impact on our leadership philosophy. Below are my quotes!

Article 1 : Leadership, more or less? A processual, communication perspective on the role of agency in leadership theory.

“The view of leadership that emerges from a processual communication perspective is more inclined to see it as an unstable, continuously evolving social construction embedded in what (Gergen, 2017) has characterized as ‘turbulent streams or conversational flows’ There are no finished, static entities: rather, there is only endless process .” (P. 19)

This quote hits close to home. So many times our leadership table have a seen followers, and listeners. The processual communication perspective is not stable, constructs a social construction that is not open to other ideas. No other ideas thoughts are allowed entry. Similar to “what I say goes, end of story.” The leadership is not disruptive with randoms goals and conversation where the endless process cycles.  Others in this group are also mere contributors…only followers where there is not much opportunity to discuss and grow.

Article 2: Critical and alternative approaches to leadership, learning and development.

“This emerging critical strand of the leadership literature therefore suggests that leadership development and learning should avoid presenting leadership as a fixed identity or role, instead encouraging an awareness of multiple roles (leader, follower and both). In addition, leadership learning and development should strengthen voices of alternate models to the masculine aggressive and individualistic one. ” (P.6)

I loved this quote for the reason that it suggests that leadership should not be seen as a “fixed” role and identity. It should in fact be seen as multiple roles not just the principal in the office  that deals only with students and the teachers. The leader is transparent, is clear and building relationships with staff, students and community members. The leader should also be in and about the classroom,  teaching and working alongside fellow teaching colleagues and facilitating leadership alongside colleagues where thoughts, and opinions matter and are respected with value.

Article 3: Avoiding Repetitive Change Syndrome

“Repetitive change syndrome harms a company’s capacity to make further changes. That is, for every change initiative added, another one slows down or disappears. In extreme cases, older initiatives aren’t completed and are eventually forgotten.” (P.3 )

This reminds me of the forever saying that I hear every year that “change is good, that change will happen for the better of the school.” I am also observing that change is quite repetitive on a yearly basis where it becomes hard and stressful for colleagues. As a core leader it is always hard to implement new goals and new changes to the school from the division when staff are constantly facing new changes on a yearly basis. This year we have a new principal who is phenomenal! Though with a new principal comes new ideas and more changes. Some change have impacted the school in a positive way and some changes have overwhelmed staff members. We have new strategic goals and this year that is the same across every high school. Teachers also must share how they will meet their personal goal while following the division goals. Are these true goals that staff are stating, or are they just simply “faking it” and sabotaging the change?

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Image taken from Pixabay

Article 4: The stupidity paradox: The power and pitfalls of functional stupidity at work.

“More Self-reinforcing stupidity and reflexivity Functional stupidity can become self-reinforcing. This happens when employees stop searching questions and are rewarded with a sense of (false) certainty. It happens when they are good team players, reliable followers and well adapted organizational members who do not threaten their managers or colleagues.” (P. 17)

I am a hardworking teacher and core leader. I know I go beyond by job and I do my best to ensure my students are successful and that my fellow core members feel supported and heard. But time and time again, I have seen this above quote play out daily. With a former principal, learning council was about what this principal believed in and no questions were to be asked. And if you didn’t have questions or problems then you were a great leader and a supporter. There was no disrupting at the learning council table. I was also guilty of this where I was afraid to speak and share my true thoughts on certain matters. This was out of fear that I would threaten or upset a former principal which was clearly functional stupidity.  

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Image taken from Pixabay

Article 5: Cross-Cultural Understandings of Leadership

“Others told us that the leader was a student. It was the wisdom of the leader, accumulated through some period of learning, others learned. That learning was voluntary. It was a neverending process.” (P. 16)

I enjoyed this quote from the article because it truly made sense to me. Leaders DO NOT STOP LEARNING. Leaders are not perfect and they do not have the answers for ever question but will do their best to find the answer. Leaders learn from others and are constantly working alongside others to help support the great cause to support student success that is truly meaningful.  

I enjoyed reading these articles because it made me think critically about my own leadership I  believe that leadership will never be perfect, but a leader should always seek to work alongside and collaborate with teaching colleagues to support true student achievement.

Thanks.

Krista

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Activity 2: Leadership Self-Reflection Blog Post

leadership-153250__340

Image taken from Pixabay

After having read the PDF provided from Stephen and Kirsten and when I reflect about leadership, I think about how leadership is constantly being transformative…..it’s constantly changing. In order to be an effective leader, I believe that this person must continue to listen, inspire, collaborate and create a vision that truly supports learners and staff members. Not only is it about inspiring fellow staff members, it’s also about helping to motivate staff members in a meaningful way that truly does inspire others to work with the vision.  While at the same time, supporting our students in a positive way where they can be successful in their educational journey.

I truly believe that a leader is not born, a leader is made….through some leaders do inherit certain qualities that make them better suited for leadership. Leaders also learn to become leaders through training and observation.  Having been a Core leader for the past three years in my School Division, I know that I have failed and that I have also been successful in my own leadership styles…….it’s something that I am continuously working on…….and l keep learning as I move forward.

learning as i go

Image taken from Pixabay

When describing two key life experiences that have shaped my approach to leadership, I can think about the heavy workload that all teachers are constantly facing with marking, class sizes, constant data entry of marks, keeping up to date with emails, finding ways to support our students who may need extra support. While at the same time balancing school work life with home-life. This year, our school created a “student talk” data sheet where we are to document how we are supporting our Advisory students who are at risk of falling behind or at risk of failing. I have 15 core members in my group whom I support on a daily basis. Two colleagues do not know how to use Excel or Google docs and are feeling overwhelmed that they have to add this information to another document. As a leader,  I listened and heard their frustrations.  I offered to show them how to use these documents, though even after they were explained how to use the documents, they were still not sure how to use them and were feeling quite frustrated with the process. When these monthly documents come out now, I simply visit these two colleagues during their prep or after school and I type up the information for them. One teacher said that she was relieved that I was doing this for her….that she felt less overwhelmed.

Another situation was when a teacher was not inputting marks into Power-school. Our assessment document for our school division states that marks should be updated every two weeks on Power-school. My colleague (in December) had not updated his marks since the end of September. This is an issue to support our students, to ensure that students are on the right track and are also meeting the outcomes for grade 9. When I went to visit and talk with my colleague, after listening to him, I found that he was embarrassed that he did not know how to properly use Power-school or how to add outcomes based reporting. He explained that he was feeling overwhelmed with the marking, and with his personal home-life. That day and every second week, we go over Powerschool and outcomes together. He knows how to use the system better, though he mentioned that he feels better that check in on him to make sure he is doing entries correctly. We also talked more formative assessments to help support his teaching practices. I feel that in my leadership, I use the participative and relationship theories. I always try to take the input of others and I encourage collaboration in decision making. I also feel that I am constantly trying to make connections and build relationships with fellow colleagues.

When looking at the many leadership approaches, I was very taken by the creative leadership style. I believe that a leader will demonstrate in a meaningful way the vision but will also help lead the path to get there. Motivating, inspiring, and empowering people in this process is key. I agree that it is important to create a climate of trust in order for this leadership style to be effective where it’s okay to disagree, it’s okay to tolerate failure and to also reward innovation and at the same time encourage other colleagues to see their own leadership.

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Image taken from Pixabay

I feel that the charismatic leadership style is another interesting and important approach where leaders inspire the eagerness of their fellow colleagues and motivate them to move forward. This will encourage colleagues to be excited about goal achievements and visions in the school building.

Finally what interests me the most is the democratic and participative leadership style. This is important as all voices of colleagues are heard and (hopefully) included in final decision makings. I believe when colleagues are included in the discussions, that their voices, thoughts are being heard, that they are engaged in varied projects and policies.  That they will be more productive and involved in the school vision and they will be engaged in future projects and decisions to support student success.

What other leadership approaches (from the PDF) were you interested in?

Thanks!
Krista

Unit one: Critical Theory

I have been a teacher with Regina Public Schools for over 14 years and I can honestly say that every year, it becomes more and more obvious that schools are being used as agents for the maintenance of existing unjust power structures in society. I began to see this after my first Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction and also having been a Core leader in our school building.

Image taken from Creative Commons

The current state of our education system, the leadership in our school buildings  and Edtech education are easily woven together to sustain and to produce unjust inequalities in our schools today.  We are teaching students that in order to become successful they must be compliant in the classroom and in the school building. Our school buildings create factory model systems that are standing in the way of progressing EdTech leadership.

As Stephen and Kirsten discussed in this week’s unit, there is the asymmetry of power, a power that will always sustain itself, protect itself and of course reproduce itself.  As mentioned earlier, our education system is used as an agent of the powerful to continue to reproduce and maintain its power. Our own Saskatchewan government who continues to slash funding for our schools, is a power system that sustains, protects and reproduces. It uses its own teachers and students as agents of evil where change does not happen for the better for our students and their education.

As an educational leader, I have to admit that I am sometimes guilty as I have become a willing captive to this power system where I am not arguing against issues that are not always what is best for our learners. I am involved in the rat race where I am to agree with my division / our government and to follow and continue to feed the power that may be unjust for all learners. I am dancing with fellow leaders and my school division who are sometimes very comfortable with the asymmetries of power that is found within our neo-liberal government.

power

Image taken from Creative Commons

Mass media and Edtech has the negative potential to domesticate and robotize our teachers our students and their learning. It is becoming more and more obvious that teachers are encouraged to use varied software in the classroom that may be heavily marketed as educational software. I think about Google Classroom and how so many students and educators are using this program. How is it fair that many are forcing students to use these programs and are steering away from the pen and paper projects and how many projects are now becoming more digitized? Technically we are teaching students that if they punch in the correct numbers and letters,  that they are truly providing the right answers. Is this change truly fair for all learners? How do we truly know students have access to Google Classroom via phone and computer? With the new Edtech that is becoming more available for classroom, may it be also overwhelming for teachers to catch up to the digital age?

Every year I am noticing that the practical and applied arts are seen as the unimportant subjects in the high school setting and the classes are being cut…which is crazy. There is this hidden cognitive curriculum where we are constantly pushing for over 90% success rate in our school goals in writing, reading and math. We are teaching our kids to regurgitate the information.  We have to remember that school isn’t just about memorizing the ABC’S and counting from 1 to 3! 

 As John Taylor Gatto discussed in his You Tube video, our school systems are teaching the kiddos to be conformists where we are teaching them to be uncritical of what they are truly learning.

As and educational leader I am reminded that it is important to take critical leadership training. Being non critical in my own leadership is also being an agent of the existing powers. I know that myself and other teaching colleagues are hard working and doing what is best for our students and at times are being honest with our students and teaching then what they truly need to know not just by what we are told to teach. I can see more and more educators in my school building allowing our students to use their voices and to de-tangle from the relationships of power. Teaching our students to become more independent and to question things being taught. It’s not about having to write an exam at the end of the semester. More and more teachers in my school building are pushing away from the “normal final exam” and letting students choose a project for their final assessment. It’s not about having our students regurgitate what they learned for the past four months, it’s about celebrating what they learned by a final project of their choice.

As an education leader it’s not about being a conformist, it’s about being informed, not having tunnel vision, making sure that all learners are heard / supported and creating true positive relationships. This work will not happen over night. It is something that needs to be worked on daily and consistently. 

I am curious to know, how have other classmates in this course seen teachers in schools challenge these unjust powers in our society?

Thanks.

Krista

Introducing myself: Krista Gates

Hi everyone!

My name is Krista Gates.

I am in the Educational Leadership Masters program and this is my 4th course. I have a Master’s in Education with Curriculum and Instruction, and I have a Master’s certificate in TESOL….I may have a problem and like to take University courses.

I am a teacher / Core Leader with Regina Public Schools and I work at Campbell Collegiate. I teach French Immersion and Spanish…….I love my job!

I love technology and try to use it in a meaningful way with my students. Though I have a confession…I have mom brain and I need a refresher with technology professionally, personally and educationally. I am an early adopter (and close to early majority) when it comes to my relationship with technology.

tech rating

My leadership style can vary within the following: coaching (trying to help develop others leadership skills), visionary (collaboration, motivation, team building helping to develop change) and I can also be affiliative where I’m always looking to (build bonds) with fellow staff members….I think building relationships with staff and students is key.

Fun fact about myself I have two kiddos (age 8 and 12) and I have an awesome husband who supports me during all my studies. I also take students to Europe every Easter for the past 14 years. I love travel and language.

Looking forward to a great semester!

Krista

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