Often, when discussing digital literacies with leaders, someone will say, “but I have a student achievement lens, and I am focussed on how we improve student achievement“. It is at this point that I know this educator sees “technology” and “digital literacies” as “add-ons” to the student achievement agenda, rather than critical components of it.
So then, what drives student achievement*? (Or, if you prefer, student learning.)
Research suggests that “teachers matter more to student achievement than any other aspect of schooling” (RAND 2012)
The role of the teacher is to ensure that every child in their care moves forward in their learning.
Teachers can’t do this alone. In collaboration with their colleagues, they learn the strategies and practices that work best with each and every individual student in the room.
When a student is stuck in his or her learning (think, for example, in a grade 9 applied math class), the teacher must find a way to help that student learn. This involves looking at what works in other contexts, and adapting it to the needs of a particular learner.
Thinking about what is working now (best practice), and using it as a lens to evaluate and adapt what is working elsewhere to a specific context (next practice), relies on a collaborative professional environment, and the opportunity to learn about a wide array of promising practices.
At one time, teachers closed their doors and taught in isolation.
Now, a much more collaborative approach to professional practice is encouraged. However, no longer should collaboration among educators be confined to a school or even to a single district.
Isolation is now a choice, not a condition.
“The real game-changer for collaborative learning is technology.”
The most capable teacher in the school is the school, unless the teachers are connected learners, and then its the world.
Teachers who know how to self-direct their learning online with their peers from around the world, have access to all the best thinking, the best strategies, and the best conversations about how to help each and every child learn.
How, then, can Principals enable self-directed learning by teachers in their schools? We know now that the most effective leadership practice is to be a visible lead learner.
As colearners, Principals need to make their learning visible to the school community.
Connecting, learning, and sharing are at the core of learning leadership.
Connected leadership is the foundation of student learning.
(*I won’t take the time here to define “student achievement”, but it is always worth asking the question, “What IS student achievement?” whenever engaging in conversations about it. Also, ask how it is being measured in research studies that claim to show an improvement in student achievement. We have vastly different ideas of what “student achievement” really means.)
How can Ontario Leaders become Connected? How do they improve their understanding of digital literacies? OSSEMOOC – free, no password, 24/7 support and learning to become a Lead Learner.