These are my notes from COSN breakout session 1: “Developing 21st Century Skills in School and District Leaders.” I obtained permission from the panel presenters to record this session and share it later as a podcast. This was a GREAT discussion. My own thoughts and comments below are in ALL CAPS. The conference program description was:

Developing 21st Century Skills in School and District Leaders

Education leaders must harness the value of information and communications technology and reconsider the longstanding goals for technology integration that are systemically focused on student outcomes. What are the skills that educational technology leaders need today? In this session, panelists will discuss the 2007 revised framework of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, which offers such a vision. The panel, comprised of experts from cutting-edge districts and thought leaders from higher education and the nonprofit sector, will examine common assumptions and goals for technology integration in the context of the 21st century skills movement. More importantly, panelists will foster dialogue with attendees about what skills, knowledge, and expertise school leaders must have for evolving learning expectations.

Helen Soulé, PhD, Educational Consultant and Former Executive Director, Cable in the Classroom (Moderator)
Terry Clark, Assistant Superintendent for Instruction and Technology, Bethpage Union Free School District, NY
Scott McLeod, JD, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, Iowa State University
Christopher Corallo, EdD, Director of Staff Development, Henrico County Public Schools, VA
Marianne Hauser, Director of Professional Development, Curriculum/Instruction/Assessment/Accountability Department, Fayetteville Public Schools, AR
Susan Norton, Chief Information Officer, Communications and Technology, Fayetteville Public Schools, AR

Helen: former director of Cable in the Classroom
– left in Dec 2007

going to talk about leadership in the 21st century
– very few PPT slides, and hopefully no technical glitches

Doug Levin from CIC
Terry Clark, Assistant Superintendent for Instruction and Technology, Bethpage Union Free School District, NY
Christopher Corallo, Director of Staff Development, Henrico Public Schools, VA
Marianne Hauser, director of PD, Fayetteville PS
Susan Norton, CIO, Communiations and Technology, Fayetteville Public Schools, AR

Every student must be:
– an analytic thinker
– a problem solver
– etc

it takes a different type of leader for transformational leadership
new skills, new assumptions, new tools
new models for pedagogy

Leadership Proverb: “He who thinks he leads, but has no followers, is only talking a walk.”

framing this via the Partnership for 21st Century Skills

Presentation by Ken Kay or other members of 21st century skills
– hear a lot about 21st century skills and how that is different than what we have been doing
– the partnership started about 6 years ago
– define knowledge and skills kids need not jut for work, but for life and citizenship
– this means a lot to different people
– I do want to walk through this recently revised framework: is like a 2.0 framework, was released at NECC in 2007

Framework has 2 parts
– the rainbow should look familiar to those who have seen this before
– knowledge and skills kids need to have
– life and career skills
– learning and innovation skills
– information, media and technology skills
– core subjects and 21st century themes

the pools below represent the support structures that need to align to bring about that skill set
– standards and assessments
– curriculum and instruction
– professional development
– learning environments

global awareness
financial and business literacy
civic and health literacy
responsibility for people’s lives are increasingly in individuals’ lives
the world is a more complicated place
this presents new challenges for all of us

promoting themed approach, cross-disciplinary approaches

keystones: learning and innovation skills
– those are going to differentiate U.S. graduates from others
– this is the engine for our growth

we talk about digital native: that seems to connote a deep understanding of the meanings of media use, that is not always the case
– kids may be able to punch buttons, doesn’t mean they are critical thinkers or are making good decisions when they are posting and publishing content

this is a wholistic framework

while we are clear on this vision, we are MODEST about how the best way to bring this about in the classroom is
– that is why we have our panelists, to provide that “on the ground” perspective

we’re going to do this through a series of questions

question 1: how does the leadership in your district drive the vision

in Fayetteville, started after a Partnership presentation several years ago
– board and superintendent get together every 3 years to do “visioning” for the next 3 years
– my handout has to do with how your board might set goals, develop activities

strategic goals for Fayetteville School District
1- hire, place, develop and retain only high-performing staff
2- develop, implement, and support an articulated curriculum, effective instructional strategies, and a comprehensive assessment program that integrates progressive technology
3- improve efficiency and quality of district facilities, fleet management, and food service operations
4- manage financial resources for optimal effectiveness
5- provide a progressive information technology infrastructure to enable everyone to develop 21st century skills and effectively communicate ides
6- continually and effectively communicate with all stakeholders. engage in ongoing dialogues with appropriate local and state government officials to advance the interests of the Fayetteville School District
7- provide a safe school environment that promotes positive emotional and physical well being and mutual respect for students and staff
8- create and promote participation in a variety of activities that develop a full range of life skills

Comments from Terry Clark
– we are a very small district
– our NCLB fear is the tests are down low, and our kids are up high, and the tests are going to force us to teach down
– expectations for teachers, not only students
– the expectation is that it is NOT just about “those tests”
– we do well, our kids exceed, so the framework has been a way to think about bigger things and go beyond NCLB
– we are in the middle to creating a portfolio that addresses the core elements in the framework
– our board and administrators have bought into it, teacher buy-in is a continuing conversation

Christopher Corallo in Henrico
– in September we turned over our board entirely
– so now we are re-educating our board
– we are a large school system, almost 50,000 students
– have a vision statement
25,000 laptops deployed to students in grades 6-12, have had this for 8 years
– in 8 years we have NOT found that laptops changed pedagogy in our classrooms
– much of that deals with state assessments, and the focus on drill and practice
– as a district 2 years ago we grabbed onto the framework, seeing that it would move us forward
– we are using the framework to jumpstart
– it is not about the tool, it is about instruction

I WOULD CHANGE THIS TO SAY IT IS NOT ABOUT THE INSTRUCTION, IT IS ABOUT THE PROCESSES OF CREATION AND COLLABORATION AMONG AND BETWEEN LEARNERS (STUDENTS AS WELL AS TEACHERS)

Susan
– this is very important to get principals on board, so they are having these conversations regularly in their buildings with teachers

Comments from Marianne Hauser
– director of PD, Fayetteville PS

challenge is greatest with secondary teachers who are VERY content-focused
-at a recent retreat for principals: talking about 21st century teaching and a 21st century environment, it was all practical
– most powerful thing we did: model the 21st century learning environment, participatory, pair and shares, reflections, 2 hour geo-caching activity one night to talk about communication and collaboration
– the key has been to model in our PD sessions what we mean by a 21st century classroom

Henrico:
– our school board had (the previous one) brought in the 1:1
– we had to SHOW them the money in classrooms
– we have many pockets of excellence in Henrico
– we brought our board members to see that
– we are in the midst of doing 2 extensive studies
– we wanted to bring in interactive whiteboards from Promethian, doing a study about what happens with results in classrooms with
– it was about showing the board through data
– eventual question was: did the kids still get the test scores

we can do all this stuff at the division level, but what happens in the classroom is really the key
– we were talking this talk, but we

our key: establishing the baseline of WHY: 21st century skills
– why we need to change
– then: making THEM (principals) 21st century learning

THIS IS SO RIGHT ON: PERSONAL USE OF THESE TOOLS IS KEY

forcing principals to use their laptops, giving a blog address for a workshop and that is how they ask questions in the workshop

Terry Clark: have board members that have been on for 25 or 30 years
– have a great deal of stability
– we get new parents every year, they rotate in
– like a good college basketball team

Questions from Helen Soule
talking more about teachers: they are the key to everything
20% of teachers will do it, early adopters – but we want 100%
what

Susan Norton:
– there are so many successful things going on already in the classroom
– key was showcasing those things
– state level task force focusing on best practices in the classroom
– if a principal walks into a classroom, what should they see, what would the learning look like

shared a handout for what a 21C teacher does, and a 21C student does

we have 8 foot screens and projectors in all our classrooms, with ceiling mounted speakers

this has led to us creating videos showcasing teachers and student work, these are shown and celebrated
– these are shown regularly at the board meeting

Christopher Corallo
– we are doing similar things, we are archiving these

COSN NEEDS TO HELP AGGREGATE THESE BEST PRACTICES VIDEOS FOR ALL TO USE

teachers are going to start realizing this is important when principals start measuring this in their observations and evaluations
– reflective conferencing skills with teachers, helping them reflect on their practice
– just doing the workshops has not helped
– we are bringing out consultants from Pearson, spend half the day in classrooms doing observations
– having the principals debrief with the consultants, focusing on what principals can ask teachers that will push the teachers’ thinking beyond where they are or wre

once the teachers are pushed to think differently, we believe in just in time PD
– all our PD is in modules
– we have an electronic module out there on project based learning, for example
– we have gone away from bringing in people to teach strategies, but rather
– we are killing ourselves creating these now
– difficulty is weeding out the

we have been working with vendors who are

SO DR CORALLO AND HENRICIO NEEDS TO EMBRACE OPEN EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES, CREATING MATERIALS FOR THE OPEN WEB WITH COPYRIGHT FRIENDLY MATERIALS, AND SHARING THEM IN AN AGGREGATED WAY
– THIS IS A GREAT OPPORTUNITY OR NICHE FOR AN ORGANIZATION OR COMPANY, TO PROVIDE A TRULY OPEN (OER ETHIC) VIDEO SERVER WHERE THESE TYPES OF VIDEO RESOURCES CAN BE AGGREGATED AND SHARED

I WANT TO ASK A QUESTION ABOUT SOCIAL NETWORKING AND STUDENT-CREATED MEDIA / READ-WRITE WEB PUBLISHING

Susan in Fayetteville
– lots of investment

Dr Corallo from Henrico
– the tools are a good help if you have someone who can help teachers directly
– generalists have not done as well helping teachers
– we are a mile wide and an inch thick, we are great with technology for management

Terry Clark:
– “we just want good teachin’.”

I WOULD CHANGE THIS TO SAY: WE JUST WANT AUTHENTICALLY ENGAGED LEARNING. (REFERENCE TO “WORKING ON THE WORK BY PHIL SCHLECTY”

have a project where kids take apart computers and put them back together again
I just want good teaching
– there are great ways to teach without technology

Susan Norton:
– high performing staff
– should imply that our teachers are ready for change ALL the time
– teachers taking as much PD as they can

Dr Corallo
– our question is: can you be a great teacher without technology to do it?
– lots of people say that is not ok, kids will need to use these when they get into the world of work
– we ran the danger of putting the tools in the hands of

study from England: showed interactive whiteboard increased teacher lecture and reduced

I NEED TO GET THE LINK TO THAT STUDY, HAVEN’T SEEN THAT YET

we view the technology
– it is all about training and how you use the tool

Helen: that is great

I WOULD CHANGE THAT. I DON’T THINK IT IS ALL ABOUT THE TRAINING. IT IS ABOUT EMPOWERMENT AND JUST IN TIME LEARNING. DR. CORALLO IS TALKING ABOUT JUST IN TIME LEARNING FOR PD, BUT I REALLY OBJECT TO THE STATEMENT “IT’S ALL ABOUT TRAINING.”

Marianne:
– lots of focus on project-based learning (PBL) and rubrics
– how do you evaluate students if they are doing group-based projects and collaborating on the work and the project
– this is quite difficult to get high school teachers to engage in this

Terry Clark
– in the middle of creating a portfolio that talks to the themes and skills emphasized here
– they are not all about technology
– we are nicknaming this “the Renaissance project”
– just had a meeting with a school graduate who edits the US President’s daily briefing, he is coming back to our school to visit with students

are mandating an online geography course for all 9th graders next year, outside the scope of the “regular” day

Susan Norton:
Fayetteville brought a DVD for everyone
– focus that every teacher is a literacy teacher
– videos are on the website

Chris Corallo

http://staffdev.henrico,k12.va.us/doetech
– you are welcome to use any of this as long as you credit Henrico Schools

– leaders have to understand instruction, teaching and learning
– if you are talking about a tech director, in Henrico they are under instruction
– feeling is those people have to have a better feel for instruction
– without the vision and understanding the instruction, we are unable to build the structures that allow us to apply the 21st century structures

Susan Norton:
– combined technology dept and communication dept
– leadership needed to reflect what the goals of our communication as a fundamental vehicle for how we do business in the classroom and the district
– not just parents, also in the business community

Marianne:
– emphasis on collaborative leadership
– page 8 of program guide
– ran across essential skills of the k12 CTO
– we see that as importance for principals and our superintendent
– refer to your program guide

question from the audience: biggest challenge seems to be secondary teachers set in their ways, and the elementary teachers who don’t want to work with others / collaborative
– how do you bring them together and get different groups of teachers to work togeter

Marianne:
– had a leadership retreat last summer, this was an issue
– younger teachers are being pushed back by older teachers, esp if they were trying riskier things in the classrooms
– this is more about risk taking teachers, bringing them out to the public, giving them recognition outside the school culture
– some principals are specifically tagging which teachers are on which committees

Dr Corallo:
– teachers are self-selecting study groups
– have to implement it and come back
– Virginia has no union

audience member speaking of California with unions and teacher contracts

Dr Corallo
– goes back to teaching standards, working with principals

Terry Clark: using Drupal now for some walled garden publishing
– teach students to create websites at
– we are behind the wall

Marianne
– our students can publish onto a teacher website
– same with blogs: they are through our web-authoring program, student blogs get pre-read by a teacher

Susan:
– using sourcepoint in a new initiative, in 4th grade, students beginning to develop interests and portfolios, that will carry beyond the wall

DR CORALLO DIDN’T RESPOND TO THIS FOR HENRICO, I WOULD HAVE LIKED TO HEAR HIS RESPONSE 🙁

audience question about previoius SRI Internetal
– 3 year study by Dale Mann, just completed UVA Walt Heneikie, when completed those will be available

Helen: we got though about half our questions for the panel

Summary by Doug
– there has really been a sea change in the rooms we’ve been in
– this is a very ambitions agenda, it is systemic, it works against many of the issues we face in our day jobs
– then NCLB happened
– we are finding that people are resonating to this agenda
– we are good at silos in education, this is contrary
– thinking how to leverage kids’ time outside of school
– from the partnership’s perspective: we’ve talked about teachers and principals
– partnership is focused on the state level, and regional level (working with the governor, high level, systemic
— address PD, systemic change
— learn more on our website

have a tool called “route 21”
– can search for best practices videos
– you can upload it, tag it, etc

I AM SO GLAD TO LEARN ABOUT THIS!!!

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  • Thanks for the notes. I wish I could be at COSN but teaching responsibilities keep me 2 hours south. Anyway, couple of thoughts. First, the Henrico 1:1 laptop study is being done by Dale Mann, managing director of Interactive, Inc. (not GaleMann as you wrote, but no biggie). Second, I don’t like the proverb somebody used (was it Soule?…Leadership Proverb: “He who thinks he leads, but has no followers, is only talking a walk.”). First of all, it’s sexist. Second of all, I much prefer Chris Dede’s notion of leadership WITHOUT followers. I’ve blogged about this before: http://edinsanity.com/2008/01/16/leadership-without-followers/

    Looking forward to learning more from you at COSN. Thanks again.

  • Jon: Thanks for the typo correction on Dale Mann, I fixed that in the original post.

    I haven’t heard of Chris’ reference to leadership without followers. I’ll follow your post and check that out. I have a few other responses and ideas to what was shared in this session that I’ll be blogging about in the days ahead. There was certainly a lot of valuable perspectives shared here that are worth reflecting on, and (as you point out) not necessarily taking at face value.

    I have used (since my early days in Scouts) the following definition of a leader: “A person who takes a group of people and gets the job done.” For those who haven’t linked to Jon’s post yet, the fourth characteristic which he cites from Dede of leaders is:

    A destructive myth about leadership is that a visionary person gives directions to followers who execute this plan. Real leaders discourage followers, instead encouraging use of their visions as a foundation for other, better insights.

    I’d like to read this statement in its full context to see if I agree with it or not. From my perspective, the role of the leader is ultimately related to action and change. Those changes can be ideological, but generally they are “changes on the ground,” where the real work is happening. For schools, that means in the classroom. So I’m not sure I am following this line of thought. I definitely think one constructive role of leaders is to challenge others in their thinking to stretch and grow, but I don’t know that I can buy the idea leaders should actively discourage followers. Is Dede talking about a particular TYPE of follower who should be discouraged, or followers are in general? I can buy the idea that the leader should invite input from stakeholders, and not simply mandate her/his vision of change without input from followers and constituents. Inviting and challenging others to synthesize and improve on the ideas which the leaders shares is certainly a good idea. I don’t see that role as necessarily one in which the leader is DISCOURAGING followers, however. I see that as encouraging followers to not accept ideas on face value, and instead push-back to help improve them. I guess I’d like to hear more about this perspective, and how you see this being relevant today in our schools.

  • Wes, in your “spare” time (ha!), here’s a link to Dede’s full book chapter: http://www.virtual.gmu.edu/SS_research/cdpapers/leadpdf.htm

    My interpretation is not that he’s discouraging followers. Rather, the leader establishes the baseline vision and then says, “Go! Don’t wait for me” and “Do as I say not as I do.” The best leadership I’ve ever witnessed has been of this sort. They encourage, support, but don’t hold back and ask me to get in line behind them. I think this is crucial in the world of K-12 schooling. To borrow a line from Scott McLeod (which I do regularly), the vast majority of school leaders “don’t know what they don’t know.” But, they can certainly own up to not knowing while recognizing that there are other (better?) ways of facilitating learning. For me, the most important thing any leader ever said to me was “go.”

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