To meet the challenges of teaching in an increasingly connected world, school leaders, educators and community members could benefit from building a culture of transparency and connectivity, creating a culture of sharing around the successes and struggles of teaching and learning.
Creating a transparent school starts with a school’s leadership. “Leadership has to buy into the value of connectivity,” said Joe Mazza, director of connected teaching, learning and leadership at North Penn School District and a former elementary school principal in an edWeb webinar. “The culture offline or online has to say we care about being open minded to the rest of our learning community whether that’s local or global.”
Connecting with other educators puts control in the hands of educators, but it also helps push the field forward. “It’s important for us not to just look at connectivity for ourselves, but for the entire field of education,” Mazza said. He encourages his teachers to pose problems they face to the Twitter-verse, where they can get great ideas from other educators who have faced similar issues almost immediately.
RELATIONSHIPS AT THE CORE OF CONNECTIVITY
It’s easy to hear the term “connected educator” and immediately think of technology, but the most important connections are made face-to-face. “Every one of our 18 schools are very different and the teachers expect us to meet them where they are,” Mazza said. “Every teacher and leader and parent are leveraging tools on a different basis.”
GET COMFORTABLE WITH PUSHBACK
Including everyone in creating a positive, nurturing and transparent school culture will almost certainly raise questions for parents. “All that pushback is rooted in something,” Mazza said. “If your culture is not transparent, you might have pushback automatically because people aren’t used to sharing what they’re doing. They might not feel it’s safe to do that.” Mazza sees pushback as a way to bring more people into the discussion. Connected, transparent school leaders are comfortable with pushback, Mazza said.
LEADING FROM A TRANSPARENT PLACE
“If you are a school leader right now and you think you have all the resources and can do it all, that’s impossible,” Mazza said. “You need the rest of the world with perspectives to constantly expose your faculty to people who are trying things.”
As if running the school, engaging with the community, being a role model both online and off, and encouraging teachers to innovate wasn’t enough for one person, some of the most effective principals make time to continue their own professional development with a learning community. In the school environment the principal, or “lead learner” as Mazza calls the role, is supposed to have all the answers. But that’s impossible and it’s why principals can learn so much from one another.
Read the entire article by Katrina Schwartz on MindShift at http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2014/05/how-transparency-can-transform-school-culture/