Friday, April 30, 2010

Leading by Example (Pt2): Blogging with Purpose and Meaning

Two weeks ago, I began a series of posts for district and school leaders called Leading by Example, strategies and tips to become models in chief and to engage in conversations that promote 21st century skills, themes, and concepts. This became even clearer to me when I spent some time this week with my daughter's principal. I have been volunteering to meet with the school's administrative team, helping them develop an innovation roadmap, to strategically plan and implement integration of technology--in short, a learning by doing approach. Mr. H. said to me, "I need pushing and accountability. There is such a gap between what my teachers can do and what I can do. I need to set the bar and lead them rather than my teachers lead me." After having this conversation, I went to the only place I knew that would provide insight, advice, suggestions, first steps--My PLN. I created the followingWallwisher that captures some compelling advice from best in class 21st century leaders. Please add your own strategies that work:

My first Lead by Example post dealt with principals beginning with understanding the 21st century framework and being intentional with 21st century conversations.

For this second post in this series, I want to focus on developing a purposeful and meaningful blogging strategy as an initial step for building and maintaining a Professional Learning Network. I have written a couple of posts relating to the power of the PLN: Building Your PLN: Not Just Another Acronym and The Power of the PLN: What Administrators Should Know and Be Able to Do. Here is a recent blended training I conducted with a district in our state, which is part of the work they are doing with North Carolina Virtual's GO LIVE Approach: Getting Organized to Lead Innovatively for Virtual Education. This district is committed to integrating e-learning communities within their current learning structures. This training focused on the power of community. Use these slides in relation to the activities on this Just In Time training module (I owe many thanks to my PLN for activity suggestions and ideas)

This statement by leading edge Principal, Eric Sheninger (@NMHS_Principal), captures the purpose and intent of not only why we do what we do, but the value of district and school leaders leading, modeling, and connecting with those they lead: "Administrators and teachers need to begin to embrace the effective use of social media for their own professional growth, to create authentic learning environments that engage students, and to utilize the expertise of professionals in a variety of content areas. The one thing that Twitter and social media have taught me is that people truly want to share their ideas, knowledge, and experiences for the collective good." In addition to
Twitter, Facebook, Ning, I see blogging accomplishing the same thing--sharing knowledge, ideas, and experiences for the collective good.

Mr. H. confessed (And I so appreciate not only his honesty but is transparency), "I know what blogs are, I have read many blogs, and have even begun my own, but I truly don't know what to write about and how to use my blog for strategic learning purposes." So, how can district and school leaders, lead by example though blogging?

Getting Started:
Okay, this is going to be a shameless add for Blogger (since this is the blogging platform I use). Watch this short video tutorial on how to create a blog with Blogger:

Here are some other resources to help get leaders started:

Blogging Ideas and Strategies:
  1. achievements and spotlights of district, school, classrooms, teachers, students
  2. how to use a blog, modeling for teachers just getting started,
  3. interpretation of particular board policy or district initiative for a needed change and its impact on district and school
  4. a schooling issue like closing the achievement gap, digital citizenship, social responsibility with social media, virtual schooling options
  5. catching principals, teachers, and students doing actions committed to the mission, vision and values of the district and/or school
  6. branding and marketing district, school or a special program (video casts working nicely here using Schooltube, Teachertube, or Youtube)
  7. thoughts on leadership and learning
  8. a weekly Principal's Corner, a video message to stakeholders, setting the learning targets for the week (or some other weekly focus)
  9. thoughts related NCLB, National Tech Plan, ISTE National Standards for Administrators, Teachers and Students
  10. academic successes
  11. videos that capture a compelling thought
  12. thoughts on e-learning and e-leadership strategies
  13. data analysis
  14. suggestions for district and school improvement planning
  15. a community perspective inviting guest bloggers
  16. something that happened at the school that seems contrary to the mission and vision of school and the leadership perspective of the situation. Invite feedback through commenting
  17. week in review with key days and events
  18. definition of 21st century learner (and leader)
  19. what it means to be literate in the 21st century.
  20. reflecting on a conference and its value-add to the work you do
Readings about blogging:

Blogging in Action (Examples of leadership blogs to add to Google Reader or any other RSS Feed):

The following list offer leading edge examples of how blogs can be used with meaning and purpose by implementing many of the blogging strategies mentioned above
  1. Moving Forward (a wiki dedicated to itemizing examples of classroom, school, and leadership blogs)
  2. #Vanmeter's School s Transforming the Educational System
  3. A Principal's Reflection
  4. PHSDirector Blog
  5. The 21st Century Principal
  6. Principal Thoughts
  7. The Principal Blog
  8. The Next Generation of Educational Leadership
  9. Practical Principals
  10. Georgetown Elementary
I hope these tips, strategies, and examples will help each leader reading this to develop the habit of blogging. For Aristotle said, "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit." Be excellent as you lead by example. For you, your teachers, and students will reap the rewards.

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