I am taking a course with the PLP Network called “Educational Leadership in the Digital Age.” I have been through a year-long program with PLP, and I have gained so much in the way I approach my own learning and that of my students. Though I am an educator who very much enjoys the opportunity to inspire my students, the PLP program (called the Connected Learner Experience) I participated in sent my excitement for teaching into overdrive. The PLP program strives to give educators new tools to develop themselves as learners first, encouraging us to rethink our own job descriptions. Rather than become a knowledge delivery service, we search for ways to inspire our students to do more with their knowledge and abilities. As Will Richardson, a founding member of the program, says: “It’s not about what you know, but about what you do with what you know." If your school is looking for a way to take educators into the next century as connected learners, I highly suggest this program.
But now that I have marketed the heck out of the PLP program (you’re welcome), I want to speak about what I am learning right now. After just one week, the instructor has me stretching my way of thinking so that I can mold my leadership position to be one of constant learning. As a new administrator, I come to my role with many ideas, and wonderful models to reference as I build a community and empower the faculty with whom I will work. But there is a bigger, greater mission. I want everyone in the building I direct to want to do more. I want them to do greater things than they imagined. I believe it can be done. Here is a "6-Word Story” I created to describe my thought:
Yes, so the sentence is hijacked from the recent reboot of Star Trek. The admiral tells James Kirk, then just a farm boy from Iowa, that his father saved countless individuals in the few moments he was a ship’s captain (prior to that ship being destroyed). He dares Kirk to do better than his father.
The image is one of the Battleship Texas and the San Jacinto monument, surrounded in a mist of low fog. I saw this picture, and I thought about science meeting engineering, about the known world and what potentially lies behind the fog. I see the strength of man rising above the unknown in a tower to overlook the world around her. This picture tells the story of how we built great things to overcome that which we do not know. We had to do more with the little we understood to open the next door.
As educators, we must inspire others (namely our students) to do more. But I think there is more to this. I think we need our students to know that we have NO IDEA what this challenge entails. In other words, I feel like we need to empower our students to search for what “better” really is…for each one of them. Our job as educators is not to provide them with knowledge, but discover what to do with this knowledge. We need to grant them the gift of self-discovery and possibility.
I dare you to do better.