Less than a week ago, an excellent blogging and tweeting school administrator, George Couros, created a new shared blog: Connected Principals: Shared views on education from a group of passionate school administrators. I am delighted, even exhilarated, to be participating, and to have this opportunity to join forces with other blogging ed. admins in a project like this; in less than a week it already has had over 3000 hits! It has also created quite a buzz on twitter, with a hashtag of #cpchat.
Blogging, and technology use in general, is sometimes depicted as atomizing and anti-social; there is a myth that by being on computer we are isolating ourselves and narrowing ourselves. This could hardly be farther from the truth, and Connected Principals is a great example: there is not a chance that without blogging and twitter I would find myself in collaboration with these fine folks from across the US and Canada.
What is especially exciting about this endeavor is that not only are we all ed. admins who blog, but it is a greater connection than that: we are also a set which shares a particular set of guiding principles. These are not a tightly narrow set of principles, but nonetheless, they are, I think, an inspiring set of ten, a set that calls upon us to be principled principals: idealistic, passionate, and devoted to the right kind of educational reform.
Site creator George Couros drafted the initial list, and then solicited and drew upon feedback from the group of us participating. You can find the list on the site here, but I am going to paste it in below because it is so great, (with full credit to George Couros): I think it is informative to my visitors here at 21k12blog about my own principles. I am delighted George included my two suggested additions; the last sentence in number five, and the first part of number ten (though George added the lovely last sentence to it).
The following guiding principles are the basis for the views represented by the contributors of Connected Principals:
1. All of our decisions focus first on what meets the needs of the children we serve. All other elements of our decision making process are secondary to this objective. The students we serve are our greatest resource in schools.
2. Building strong relationships is the first basis of creating a strong school environment. Trust is the first element; both extending it and earning it.
3. It is imperative we value the gifts, contributions and uniqueness of each individual, whether student, staff, or parent.
4. We can do more together than we can alone. Opportunities need to be created for distributed leadership within our school for all staff; as administrators we need to ensure we build upon the strengths of our staff. We must ensure that we are working together as an educator community to continue to move education forward.
5. All educators need to be lifelong learners. Only through continuous reflection, respectful conversation, and collaboration will we ensure that we are continuously serving the needs of our students. As a whole, we must be attentive to and thoughtful about the myriad of ways in which the world is fast changing, and ensure that we are in continued alignment with the needs and demands of the changing world without ever abandoning core principles.
6. All members of our school community should be given opportunities to become leaders. This includes students, staff, and parents.
7. Parents are our partners in education. We must ensure that their voice is heard and that they are given opportunities to contribute to creating the best environment for our students.
8. Critical thinking and deep learning opportunities for our students are necessary to ensure that they become strong 21st century citizens. We must know the passions of our students and create learning opportunities based on these. Students need to be able to think, write, and create as we prepare them for future opportunities that may not currently exist. We must ensure that we also create professional development opportunities for our staff to learn alongside our students and provide them ways to further their own knowledge in a deep, purposeful, and relevant way.
9. Technology should be used to create opportunities for students to ensure that we are meeting their needs and creating opportunities to network and learn from others. It is necessary to ensure that students become strong 21st century citizens with a broad worldview. We need to include the world in our teaching, learning and thinking. As educators, we must also take opportunities to use social media to connect with educators around the world that have different perspectives and experiences. The more we connect, the more we learn.
10. We care about our results; we seek to educate for deep understanding and transferable skills, and seek to use the right data to measure our outcomes and use that data not to punish but to inform our organizations’ continuous learning and development. Through this reflection of our journey, we truly will be able to move forward.
As administrators we need to be transparent, open, and honest. These principles should not only be embodied in the writing on this forum, but they must also be personified continuously within our respective school communities.