Can more of our students be successful? Can schools adapt and change to meet the learning needs and styles of many more students. Can technology be leveraged increase the learning of more of our students? What is the role of school leaders to accomplish this?
My reactions to these questions is: Intentionally working through change that will increase student learning is the work of educational leaders today. Just maintaining the status quo, given our challenges, makes no sense. Are we ready? Are we willing to participate and adapt?
Three Harvard professors have something to say about the difficulty associated with living and working through intentional change. They acknowledge that this kind of work is difficult: “Because addressing adaptive challenges requires stepping into unknown space and disturbing the equilibrium, it is an activity that is inherently uncertain, risky for organization as well as for the individual, and, for these reasons, often disruptive and disorienting.” The Practice of Adaptive Leadership, Heifetz, Grashow and Linsky, p 28, 2009
And as leaders, if we are going to nurture and move toward a dynamic future full of learning opportunities for all our students we have to be willing to move beyond the status quo.
Technology, in its many forms and functions, can be taped even more as we move toward that dynamic future full of learning opportunities for all our students. So we may have to ‘disturb the current equilibrium’ in our district by asking questions like: What else can we do with the technology we have in our schools for students and their learning? How might we train and organize our personnel to insure that they bring the benefits of technology assisted instruction to our students at higher rates of effectiveness? What specific professional development can we do in our district (or in collaboration with other districts) that has the potential to dramatically improve the dispositions of more and more staff to significantly increase their integration of technology into their instruction approaches? What tangible and sustainable support can we provide our staff as we encourage and expect them to embrace effectively integrating technology into their instruction approaches?
And here is a question for us: How can we be effective adaptive leader in times that are ‘inherently uncertain, risky for organization as well as for the individuals’ who serve the district?
There are no easy answers to these questions. But, these are the kind of questions we must be asking. We must be willing to meet the inherent uncertainty we face with our best thinking. The future is worth it.
Note: The questions listed above are just the beginning. We will also have to be asking our staffs and communities: What new technology hardware, software, online options and/or other opportunities (that are not part of our current status quo) do we want to bring into and make part of our instructional program?