I also read Beth Holmes talking about her experiences in watching and listening to K12Online this week in which she says
The timing for reading Stephanie’s post could not have been better. Last night I was completely “taken” with Alec Couros’ K12 Online Conference presentation “Open, Connected, Social: Reflections of an Open Graduate Course Experience.” The viewing experience is a total package – a real “trip!” The viewer is entertained, taught, challenged and extended.
This is a very important passage. Firstly, Beth is talking about learning outside school and outside school hours. She is also connecting with Alec (who is influences everyone) and about a conference that is online. She is then talking about the learning – and that statement to me is exactly what teachers should be doing in class.
If I compare the two posts, it illustrates one of the major problems that ‘leaders’ talk about when they publish comments such as “We have such a diverse pool of talent in our schools. It is important that we tap into, challenge and engage our talented teachers if we are to continuously improve the learning and teaching”.
I am not sure that they are any good at measuring this. I think that it is something that executives believe that they can buy in, and indeed any teacher who is not ‘tech savvy’ is going to increasingly struggle to be employed. At the same time there seems to be a mentality that all this read/write, gaming, virtual world, collaborative classroom stuff, is not something that executives themselves need to buy into. I am sure that they have a list of ‘yeah buts’ for that, but that is of no consequence.
Leadership is not about authority and it is as much about listening as it is talking in my view. Someone has to create opportunities for this leadership to be effective, but I think that at time’s our battle plan is almost 17th Century.
Leaders on the hill who’s point of reference is a classic view of engagement, based on a set of established protocols and procedures.
Unfortunately Beth’s passage does not fit that notion of leadership. Beth leads herself. Jabiz is talking about moving forward as a teacher and learner.
He’s answering the ‘executives’ call to ‘tap into talent’ loud and clear – but the criteria that he suggests is needed for 21C teaching – the very things that we have to embed into practice in order to be a relevant professional in the classroom – are not the criteria for pay and promotion, leadership or professional development in schools.
While teachers are being flexible in the way they learn – and deliver new ideas (for free) into the classroom, the systems are not.
For example, schools do not fund home internet connectivity or flexible work place practice. They are yet to recognize that the hundreds of free hours 21C teacher spend learning at home is directly related to classroom – and therefore school performance and the future of our students.
I really believe that the nature of the school workplace, the terms in which teachers are engaged needs to be reformed. I just don’t think that our most senior leaders are quite ready for just how much.
It is simply unacceptable to drop laptops into classrooms and expect teachers to suddenly become effective media age developers of 21C pedagogy.
It is also morally bankrupt of executives to issue this a significant criteria for employment without recognizing that these people are ‘leaders’ – in ways beyond a ‘pat on the back’. 21C teachers are not foot soldiers, don’t make that mistake.
If you do, then there is no avoiding your own Executive Waterloo.
The coalition is all of us. Despite decades of Empire building, you are at risk of loosing it all as the control mechanisms used to define ‘career paths’ are less and less relevant to the ‘connected teacher’. You have to understand that, not ignore it. If not, then you are left to argue ‘morality and loyalty’ to retain teachers, nothing more – which I think is patronizing, given the effort that most 21C teachers have made to get where they are.
In response to the idea of the Intrepid Teacher – 21C teachers – connected to the metaverse – are on one hand welcomed as agents for change, but at the same time are not invited into the officer’s mess. This is a remnant of the industrial age. If you work hard over a long period of time, then you may be selected over someone else from the shop floor. But the new shop floor is the metaverse, where teachers are connected to media bloggers, teaching bloggers, futurists, gamers, technocrats and all those people thinking very seriously about change – who are not ‘just out’ of Uni.
Just as in the art of war, technology changes everything that went before. Clay Shirky talks about how … the German Panzer commanders defeated the French with lower numbers, because they understood the power of communication using radio to co-ordinate and react to ever changing circumstances … They were connected. He also talks about how a group can be it’s own worst enemy.
My constant concern about education (and don’t get me wrong, I want all teachers to succeed for the sake of themselves and students) – is the lack of executive ability to acknowledge the need to build CAPACITY – and to be brave enough to appoint innovators and student-leader teachers to positions where that capacity becomes SUSTAINABLE.
That to me is impossible if no one in the officer’s mess has any understanding or what Jabiz and Beth are representing. We are frantically reporting what is happening, but the message is not heard.
Maybe executives and administrators are hoping they can hold back the lines until help comes. But no one is. Each day they leave it or employ policies of the past to control the organization, it gets that much harder not to become a landmark in history.
My final salvo is aimed at pre-teachers and those at University. You really have to decide which army you are going to join right now. You have the opportunity to base your teaching on the theory of the past, but with the tools of the future – and make sure that when you arrive in the classroom, that you are a leader. You lead your students – and really, you don’t need anything more than an internet connection to do that. On the other hand, you could wait to be invited into the mess – eventually. Don’t do that – learn from your collegues experience, and apply it to conversations in the metaverse.