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Creating a Vision for 21st Century Learning

habit-2

from changingwinds.wordpress.com

To have a vision, one must begin with the end in mind. Stephen Covey states that the mental creation precedes the physical creation.

 

“All things are created twice. First the mental creation or plan;

second is the physical creation or work.  Highly effective people

clearly see the outcome they want in every area of life before they act.”

 

When trying to lead a school towards 21st century teaching and learning, it’s sometimes difficult to envision 21st Century learning when you have only experienced 20th century learning for your entire life. In order to develop the “mental creation”, exemplars and possibilities are needed.  This is where social media and other contemporary literacy tools come into play.

 

At the ATLE conference in 2010, Alec Couros offered a session on the Networked Educator (see diagram below).  He showed new and different ways to connect with people who were using technology in education.  This diagram showed many tools and resources that educators could tap into for professional development or ideas to try within a classroom or school.  By using these tools, educators could develop their skills and attitudes for 21st century learning.


the-networked-teacher

This diagram made a lot of sense to me so I decided to become a networked educator. Lurking on Twitter helped me to see changes towards 21st century learning. Then I started reading blogs such as Langwitches by Silvia Tolisano,  What Ed Said by Edna Sackson and The Wejr Board by Chris Wejr. By following key people on Twitter and by reading the experiences of other educators on their blogs, I started to form the mental creation of what a 21st century classroom and school could look like and sound like. When I started to share on Twitter and try different contemporary literacy tools, I began to feel the change. I started to change some of my 20th century behaviours to 21st century behaviours little by little. By changing some of my workflow behaviours for personal and professional reasons, I began to believe the change. By seeing, feeling and believing the change, this enabled me to have a clear vision of a 21st century classroom, school and educator.

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Making Connections: Ask yourself…

                      Flickr Photo: Press Factory Juggling Group by chamsin

As leaders, we often hear from our staff that we have “too many balls in the air” and we are just “adding one more thing to our plates”.  We need to listen to this feedback and recognize that we may have too many school goals or these goals might not align with what we really want to accomplish in regards to student learning.  When too many goals are in front of us or when goals do not align then staff will get overwhelmed and, as a result, feel like they do not do anything well or only skim the surface.

Part of being a leader is making strong connections and alignment between school goals and what staff is actively doing to move towards reaching those goals.  In the book The Leader in Me, Covey adds a visual on page 179 that resonated with me.  It is a picture of arrows pointing to stakeholder needs (student learning) and inside the arrows are things/actions that a school is doing such as mission, vision, strategies, etc.  Some arrows are pointing all in the same direction… some are not.

Alignment Diagram pg. 179, Covey, 2008

As a leader in your school, ask yourself:

If the things we do as a school are put into each arrow, would all of the arrows point towards improving student learning?

Do I, as a leader, develop and facilitate meaning processes to align school goals and actions?

Do some arrows need to be taken way because they do not align?

Are some arrows actually barriers that hinder student learning for the 21st century?

If our arrows do align, what can I do as a leader to help make connections for my staff?