This blog just isn’t getting it done.

I just realized something major through a conversation with other educators in a session with Will Richardson about changing school to keep up with the learning available in School 2.0. We’re talking about the urgency to really get educators to LEARN about everything that’s available through connections on-line, to understand the LEARNING that’s vital, and to see themselves as LEARNERS.

In the conversation, I mentioned that when I was a teacher, I often attended a workshop or a conference, returned to my classroom and implemented the idea into my own best practice. It impacted the students in my room, but I honestly didn’t care what happened in the rest of the school. It worked for me, for my students, and that was enough for me.

As a principal, I have the responsibility for the learning in every classroom in my building. But I realize now, if I’m really honest, that I’m still doing the same thing as the principal that I did as a teacher. I learned about blogging, bloglines, wikis, and podcasts. I returned to my office (instead of my classroom) and I added it to my best practice. I found the couple of teachers in my building who were doing it too and sought them out for conversations about this best practice.

I’ve done NOTHING to influence thinking or best practice in the rest of those classrooms. That’s my job now and I’m still behaving as I did when I was a teacher. Just doing my thing, what works for me, finding huge learning gains for myself, and letting the world continue as it always has for everyone who hasn’t happened onto what I’m doing.

Gutless. Safe. Not a leader. I need to make a change in my own best practice. I need to gather those teachers who are taking a risk, who are curious, who are learning on the Web, and along with them, we need to take our learning to everyone else. I’ve shown on this blog what’s important to me, I’ve had a strong voice, and I haven’t done squat to share it with my teachers, my students, my BOE, and my community. Let’s go, I’m ready. 

  1. Kim, you are awesome in so many ways. Read the comments above and take them in. You don’t need to stop now, just don’t diminish the steps you have taken or the ground you have broken so far. Got it?!

  2. Kimberly,
    Your blog is a very good modeling example of what blogging is and can be. You cannot really comprehend the difference you’ve made at my school and I’m 800 miles away! Our training blog has grown exponantially, teachers are now asking for support with ePortfolios and podcasting and I’ve got to really run hard now to keep up with them because it’s DARN important to do so. When you responded to them, it was what Will Richardson calls, the “collaborative community”…which, you can talk about all day long….but when YOU actually posted to our website, WOW….I heard about it all day long….blogs are a POWERFUL resource of the new Read/Write web. You have made a very big difference here at Eau Gallie High School. So….you are modeling for teachers you haven’t even met yet….that should make you feel very, very good!!

  3. Hi Kimberly, Sounds like a cool conference. I don’t agree that you haven’t shown any leadership here in your blog. In fact, you have shown plenty of leadership by blogging about issues that needed to be brought to the surface, engaging some of your teachers in blogging, and engaging in discussion with your fellow educators (like me) who have gained greatly from knowing you. It might go back to the purpose of your blog. What is your purpose? For instance, the purpose of my blog is to engage in discussion about educational leadership and issues facing school leaders for the betterment of schools and kids. My purpose isn’t to get my teachers or my community blogging but to talk about lots of issues that impact schools with school leaders. Our schools need change with many things including Web 2.0 but it starts with impacting one person at a time, such as a teacher or fellow principal. I know you have made a difference in your school just from what you have been doing. Maybe you want to take it to another level? I just had to write tonight because you were awefully harsh with yourself and if it counts for anything, you have made impacts on people like me. Keep up the great work!

  4. Since my work is now with teachers, instead of directly with students, I have been trying to use blogs and wikis since this summer to engage them in exactly this type of learning. While you were all enjoying Will (sorry to have missed the conversation), I was in the same building working with teachers on Writing Frameworks. I have created a blog and a companion wiki on this topic – as writing is my passion. I want to see students loving writing again – using it to communicate and recognizing the power that a good writer has. I believe that in order to teach writing – you have to WRITE!! And so I have my workshop participants write – it is often not fun and they are often not enthused (just like their students) but they do it. My hope was that in creating a blog to discuss the teaching of writing, we could begin to come together to discuss what works, discuss the philosophies of things like grammar and cursive writing, and even more importantly WRITE!
    I met with some of the teachers this past weekend to reflect on what they have learned in the writing workshop and the conversation turned to blogs. I had given it to them as an assignment of sorts. The general consesus was that the blog just didn’t work for them. They loved reading it, they used many of the strategies, and they checked out the links, but they didn’t comment.
    For some – it was the technology, for others it was time. Is that acceptable? What could I have done to make it a better experience for them? How could I have made it the blog more robust? I am still wrestling with these questions – but I am not giving up!! I keep driving folks to the blogs and wikis that I create – and hope that eventually these won’t just be more informational websites,but that they will truly start to become learning communities.

  5. Kim, you have taken the first step! AND, you have put me in my place. You are right. What have I done to influence others? I have created wikis and blogs for OTHERS to use (and no one uses them BTW). I blog on other sites. I shared some sites with our BOE members. I insist that the technology coordinators in my building know what blogs and wikis are and be prepared to assist, yet I have not done my part to impact learning.

    Today, I have started/reactivated my blog. Tomorrow, I will be planning a series of learning opportunities for others to learn HOW to create a blog and WHY they could or should do it. I think because of my passion others are interested and would gladly take advantage of this opportunity. They need to know HOW. But should they know the WHY first? I often prefer to learn about the HOW of things and then determine for myself the WHY. Is this how others think too? What will your professional learning opportunities look like? I am thinking about showing lots of blogs that are being done by teachers for students as well as the blogs that teachers are creating to share professional practice. This will spark some ideas and may even begin to construct the WHY. What I am unsure about is the WHY. Should I give them the WHY’s first? Will this make them think that I am telling them to blog? Should the WHY evolve itself? I tend to be a constructivist thinker, but often am afraid to offer this opportunity to others.

    I look forward to joining you on this journey.

  6. Kim,
    I love what you write here. As principal, you are in an unusual position. You are charged with the dissemination of information to a group of people that are not always willing to accept that information, that are not always willing to change. These “stay the course” staff members believe, whether they realize it our not, that the roll of a good principal is to keep order, to keep the gears of the school greased… to put out fires.

    Many of these teachers identify that learning and retention problems exist in their classrooms, but instead of changing their pedagogy, these teachers are waiting for the students to change. Waiting for a new freshman class to enter the high school, a class that all the middle school teachers claim, “Are just soooo wonderful.”

    But in every school there is a group of teachers that are ready and more than willing to change, teachers that thirst for any scrap of information that could improve/update/expand/focus/electrify their practices.

    These are the teachers you need to concentrate your efforts upon. It is these teachers that will encourage and help others to change, adjust and re-adjust with each new technology, with each new generation of students.
    You have already started this process. You have not sat silently by watching the world change around you. And your teachers no this. They can sense that a change is coming, and they are preparing for that change.

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