Suggestions for Administrators Interested in Assessing Innovative Practices at Their Schools

This week I am with leaders of schools in Manhattan at Alan November’s Building Learning Communities conference. During the conference we are reflecting on the question “What am I going to do to become a transformational leader?” To help frame the question conference organizer Alan November has shared these questions for administrators to keep in mind as they are thinking about their schools and how they are assessing the implementation of innovative practices that will build capacity and enrich teaching and learning at their schools.

As you read the below suggestions, reflect on what you are doing. Leaders what will you self-prescribe to be a transformational leader? Educators, what would you prescribe for leaders in your school? Is anything missing?

• Does technology serve to create new opportunities for teaching and learning that were not available before, or is the computer simply serving as a $1000 pencil merely automating standard assignments?
• Are students thinking critically about the information they access online? Are they gathering their content from multiple resources? Are they cross-referencing information and bringing in content that provide opposing or alternative points of view?
• Are the boundaries of social discourse being expanded? Is collaboration a point of emphasis? For example, are foreign language students being connected with native speakers, or are science classes connecting with the local crime scene investigation team?
• What opportunities are being taken to build school/home/community connections?
• Is content being developed and published to authentic audiences or only consumed?
• Are students being exposed to a broad range of skills and applications or are teachers focusing too much on too few? Are they being taught to create podcasts, engage in digital storytelling activities, utilize social bookmarks, collaborate with others using VOIP tools, etc.?
• Are students providing support to teachers in areas they are familiar with, or is technology use limited only to what the teachers know?
• Are faculty development sessions addressing curriculum with as much intensity as the tools being used, or are the tools the sole purpose? Are faculty development sessions being offered online and in different formats to engage teachers at different levels? Is support available to all staff members in an efficient and productive manner?
• Are students working in teams and individually to meet the goals and expectations set by themselves and the teachers? Are all team members contributing to meet the goals of the group? In group settings, are these groups mixed in ways for everyone to receive equal opportunities?
• Do teachers have the ability to override school filters with a password to utilize appropriate resources that have inadvertently been blocked?
• Does the current allocation of technology within the school meet current needs? Are pioneering teachers being encouraged and rewarded for their work? Are these teachers being utilized as role models for those who are still trying to figure out how to leverage it all?
• Has your school’s Acceptable Use Policy been reviewed recently? Does it address newer technologies, student safety and ethical considerations? Are students acting in a socially responsible manner, and are they demonstrating respect and appreciation of others? Are students aware of protecting their identity and the identity of others?

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Courtesy Alan November. Expanding the boundaries of learning
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