Tuesday, March 19, 2013

First #21stadmin chat! Joys and Challenges of Being an Ed Admin in the 21st C

Monday evening, March 18, was the first #21stadmin chat!  Several were remarking towards the end of the always-wonderful #21stedchat that there should really be an opportunity for admins to discuss how to best support teachers and administrate the school setting to support awesome 21st century learning... and thus #21stadmin was born!

The following are my summary and reflections:

First post of the night:

18 MarLeading means to never give up on anyone at any time. Leaders will people around them to find the best they have.

Much later followed by a link to this principal's reflection on Maya Angelou's keynote address at ASCD only the week before.  This was a strong, overarching theme of the conversation:

We must support, encourage, and inspire all children to know and use their strength, and one of the greatest callings of an administrator is to challenge and support educators in recognizing their power in that endeavor with children.

Participants in the chat leaped into discussion of *how* to do that!  Modeling was a huge theme: modeling constant learning and growth, modeling accepting mistakes and learning from failure, and modeling openness and trust.  Giving teachers permission to experiment and grow was another major theme.

Some very popular specific suggestions were things like:

  • Don't have a private "office" where you sit checking email all day, but be out on campus, and have conversations publicly to highlight openness and collaboration, equal voice of all stakeholders. (I'm not an admin, but I abandoned my "office" and do my prep and grading on a couch in the hallway... LOVE the fun little interactions I have with the kids, plus spontaneous collaboration it affords w colleagues wandering by!)
  • "The little things" can keep staff morale high, even if they feel gimmicky: a coffee cart or rolling drink cooler, if you're in a hot zone, covering basic duties like carpool lane, a fun staff raffle... (My school provides 15-min chair massages on student/parent/teacher conference days!)
  • Shadow a teacher - or better yet a student! - for a day to see their reality.  Schedules, room transfers, multiple preps, homework load... all sound reasonable on paper!  This can be a great catalyst for empathy and change by design. 

One question in particular came up, that didn't get really thoroughly answered:

  • How do we highlight teacher successes to support all teachers in experimenting and feeling successful, and not bringing in any resentment or embarrassment?  There were a lot of mixed feeling here, and very mixed experiences, and the most popular suggestion seemed to be to keep the teacher shout-outs, and made them teacher-driven!  One peer teacher gives a shout-out to a peer, rather than admin pointing out a golden teacher.

And several great suggestions for next #21stadmin chat!

  • hiring practices for a 21st century school
  • how to break out of the admin closed-door office space
  • how to get all stakeholders on board w 21st c changes

Vote for March 25th's topic here!

Below, I've pasted in really just those tweets that caught my eye.  Considering how many are RTs, I clearly missed them the first time, and I'm sure missed other, too!  Posts highlighted yellow contain links to rad resources folks posted, and posts highlighted green were particular popular posts with lots of RTs or responses.


What are the joys and challenges of admining in the 21st century? Joy #1: Opportunities to collaborate are endless.

Biggest challenge for me (aside from time), is finding creative ways to support teachers & change culture. Ideas?

agreed the culture shift is tough…even with "new" teachers…hard to break the mindset from when they were growing up

I think simplest way to do this is the hard way. Spending time with your staff and remembering the little things they love.

I am a big fan of leading by example and showing teachers the benefit of a Pln

Modeling is key! RT : we can model how to grow a PLN; I Skyped an during a PD session with teachers!

i share blog posts I find that relate to certain teachers & hold after school workshops on Twitter

Administrators must learn more (not know more) than everyone else We must genuinely serve Leadership is about serving & growing.

Anyone having great success empowering teacher leaders? Here is our recent attempt

Great strategies! Holding conference-style PD days is a huge win for us to model where we get our ideas

must get dirty, get ouf of office, develop community engagement plan with students, teachers, and parents

the fact that my teachers know that I am always learning&growing has helped build trust life long learners

agreed, trust takes time. build a campus community much like tchrs build them with ss in their classrooms.

being open and transparent and admiring your mistakes as an admin also very powerful

New norm: Open is better than private for 90% of school conversations. More public record, fewer closed doors.

Sharing your learning as a leader is key. Have a blog sharing transparent learning process? might be good place to start.

I read of a central office: every Fri closed office and required staff to be in schools, staff worked in library

it forces us to reach out; being visible invites collaboration, growth of new ideas (& to borrow others' spaces!)

People really do want leadership. Use with faculty before making decisions. How Might We…

Read about our teacher led PD here: Viral Intelligence: The Multiplier Effect & Institute Day at Leyden

We have 3 leadership teams-Instructional; Operations & Technology. We meet each Monday-so once every 3 wks w/ ea.

YES! RT : we are asking our students to have a voice and choice in their education, we should do the same for Ts

New Ed Leadership Book out today The Multplier Effect - Tapping the Genius Inside our Schools

Joy of my job: when a T comes running to me saying "look! I did it all by myself!" about a new techy tool

More on the move desk into the hallway RT : A little about that here

Gr8 image RT : And then remember - a school in May is like a 2 year old deprived of a nap.

Weekly meet in different classrooms& have that teacher point out what works well in their space&what doesn't.

Teacher spotlights have not worked well for me. How can I do it better?

Make it their spotlight. Have them do shout-outs to one another.

Hubby's school does faculty "Roars!" RT : Make it their spotlight. Have them do shout-outs to one another.


Mini-conversation about biggest desired change:

If you could change one thing in your building without resistance, what would it be?

. I would change willingness 2 take risks that are good for kids, step outside of box, teach less, facilitate more

Recently blogged about the role of admin in encouraging risk-taking in classroom

I would get rid of textbooks and let Ts pull/use the resources they want

the willingness for Ts to experiment with new trends in instruction (flipped, PBL, guide on the side etc.)


Every Tuesday-focus on the 4 guiding questions of PLCs; look @ S work, design common assess, plan next steps.

yes!tchrs admire ldrs who invest in them, capacity building matters. strong ldrs grow stronger tchrs.

hope we get 2 a place where practice is public. can't until we name gr8t practices

I try to get back in classrooms as a teacher. Plan on shadowing a student for the day.

Good way to start is having adults live/follow student schedule for a few days inc ALL the work.

imagine that would be a great way to inspire change - especially with instructional schedule

With 7 min left of What was your JOY today as an admin?

I have several action steps: 1) move out of office 2) offer to cover more 3) model a growth mindset with my PLN. Thanks !

My joy today was hearing a Gr 6 student tell me that was like having a personal assist, you tell the computer what to do!

I go visit my DAEP/ISS kids everyday. No matter what they do they know I care.

Not an admin brag this time, but a brag from today.

Joy today?...walking through students in courtyard creating, imagining and having fun

It was a JOY to know that the other coordinators wanted to talk big ideas, focus on student achievement, develop Ts PD & become s

My action steps: get out of DO & out to schools more, appreciate all that our principals do, rethink office setting

My joy? This is what my brain has felt like since joining Twitter in November.

RT : Our highest value may be invoking intelligence & bringing out genius in people around us.

RT : Want a free chapter of "The Effect" Check it out here!

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