Thursday, October 25, 2012

Leadership Is...Reflections On #ISTELF12

I just got back from a wonderful few days in Indianapolis. No, it wasn't to see a race or for the fabulous food. I went to engage with other thought-leaders from around the world (yes over 10 countries were represented) and talk, share, learn and grow.

The ISTE Leadership Forum (#ISTELF12) was a new event this year. The idea was to bring together district and school level leaders to talk about what issues we are facing with technology and to learn with each other. I had some wonderful conversations about technology integration, social media, BYOD and more.

But it was the opening keynote from Chris Lehman that was the big take away for me. I am always challenged when I listen to Chris speak and walk away with about a million ideas and this talk was no different. He touched on several different things but it was his points about what Leadership is and does and challenges to us that had the most impact. Below are a few and some of my thoughts...

Care: "Care For" means more than "Care About." This leadership quality is an important one. He made the statement about how a simple change in our language can have a huge impact. Saying "I teach math." and "I teach kids math." have 2 huge differences in meaning. And it so true. We have to care not about our jobs or what we do. We have to care about who we are doing it for and that is kids. No matter what we do we always have to keep our kids in mind and make sure we are doing what is best for their interests. But most of all, we have to care about kids.

Optimize Person To Person Time: Technology should never isolate us. Spending time together is how we learn. I will be the first person to tell you I use social media to make connections and learn with so many different people from around the world. But I will also tell you that nothing beats the face-to-face time I get to spend with people at conferences, meetings, or just over coffee. That face time is so valuable to my learning. So we have to get out from behind the screen often and learn together and from each other.

Talk and Listen: Turns out we learn that way. Goes back to the face-to-face time right? And really, it's more listening than it is talking. As a leader we have to be willing to listen to ideas, suggestions, or complaints and use them to grow ourselves, each other and our organizations.

Enable Collaboration: Ideas are made better when they are shared. This is another that doesn't happen enough in our schools. Share the good stuff. Let kids build, discover, and problem solve, together. (We should do that more as adults, too.) And share what happens. Let others take what you've done and build upon it and make it better so that can be shared with even more people. Just like before, we can learn better together.

Unlock Passion: School is real life. As Chris said, school should be preparation for real life. It should be real life. We've got to do better as leaders to help kids (and adults) unleash their passion. Kids will do incredible things, if we enable them and get out of their way. Schools should be safe and caring places for them to discover and peruse their passions.

There were so many more great points, I encourage you to head over to his slide share and check them out.

What say you? What are important leadership qualities for school leaders or just leaders in general? What do you look for in a leader? Leave some notes below.

photo credit: Wesley Fryer via photopin cc
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