There have been a lot of ups and downs in my three years leading our district towards 21st century education. Some things I’ve gotten right. Some things have been epic fails. In this time I’ve also worked with several other districts as they try to navigate the waters of change and struggle. Through it all, I’ve figured out a few things that every eLearning coach/integration specialist would be wise to do. Following these rules just might help you avoid the most common pitfalls to your initiatives. If you’re already in the pit… maybe they will help you get out.
- Establish a clear vision and goals. You can’t lead if you don’t know where you are going. If teachers, administrators, eLearning coaches and parents don’t understand what the intentions and expectations are, you’ll never succeed in reaching them. Be purposeful in returning to this center point yourself and with educators you are leading.
- Explain the reasons. Spend plenty of time helping everyone involved to see why they are being asked to change they way they do things. Show them evidence and share success stories of the ways learning is improving every chance you get.
- Involve teacher-leaders. Your best advocates are the people who are putting into action the changes you’re promoting and having success with them. Support them in their efforts and provide opportunities for them to share, for others to work with them or visit their classrooms.
- Remind yourself daily that there will be setbacks. Don’t let them stop you or make you feel like a failure.
- Listen intently to the people you are leading. Find out what their vision is and use it to help them reach the overall vision. Find out what they really need as their next steps.
- Closely tied to #2… Provide differentiated professional development. Make every effort to provide support and training for every skill level and learning style – just like a good teacher does in the classroom. Find ways to work one-on-one or in small groups for those who need it, but also provide tools for the independent learners to move on ahead. 5 Ways to Differentiate Professional Development.
- Think before you spend and promote. Will the district be able to sustain the subscription, maintenance or replacements long-term? Do you have enough buy-in? Will it work on your network and with your devices? Nothing frustrates teachers more than putting a lot of time into something and then finding out they can’t continue to use it or that the infrastructure can’t support it. This will undoubtably happen in some capacity in our ever-changing tech world, but do everything you can to avoid it!
- Develop good time management and organization skills. Put your tech savviness to use by using tools that will help you be more efficient and organized so that nothing slips through the cracks and you’re precious time isn’t wasted. My favorites are Google Calendar/Tasks and Trello. Start your day by planning your day.
- Focus on the positive. Problems and complaining will surface everyday, and is it easy for everyone involved to dwell on the negative. Take time out of everyday to remind yourself about the good – the things that are benefiting students and working. Share them with teachers, administrators and parents frequently. People won’t know that it’s worth the struggle and paying off unless you show them.
- Get connected. I can’t begin to express the value my PLN has been through the last few years. Getting connected with my fellow digital learning leaders through Twitter, conferences and the other opportunities provided by INeLearn has been one of the best uses of my time. Being connected provides me to with a wealth of knowledge, wisdom and encouragement anytime I need it…. which is often.
Do you have a proactive rule that helps keep you moving toward success and keeps you from losing it? Please share it below!