Transformation with @gcouros

This past Tuesday, March 6, the administrators in our district had our second “Digital Discovery” session.  During each session, we learn about different 21st Century Learning tools/strategies or ideas.  This session was all about Social Media.  There were over 180 administrators who came to our event, excited to be together, but a bit apprehensive about the topic.

Being on the Digital Discovery committee, and volunteering as a coach for my fellow administrators, I must admit, I was a little nervous about the reaction of my colleagues.  Social Media can be somewhat strange to some people because they just don’t “get” it and, in my experience, people often judge others who talk about Facebook, Twitter, and other Social Media platforms.  And, let’s make this clear, by “judge”, I mean laugh at, make fun of, minimize, and/or question what you are doing and why you are doing it.

So, yah, I was a bit nervous.

Then, things changed.

George Couros (@gcouros) was our speaker for approximately an hour of the evening.  He spoke from the heart. At times, I looked around wondering what was going on inside of my colleagues heads, wondering if they were going to “get” it by the end of the night.  Concern surfaced in me when George made a joke about something to do with Social Media, and not many people laughed. I don’t think they got the joke.  They were, however, listening very intently, trying to make sense of what George was saying in an effort to determine what this would/could/should mean to them as leaders in our district.

Some important quotes/big ideas/messages George presented included:

  • “Make Learning Visible – that is what is best for our students” (and, consequently, our teachers and parents).
  • “Kids want to take charge of their learning.” Let’s let them or find a way to make that happen for them!
  • The web is what you make it. You can learn anything online, as can our students.
  • You don’t learn by doing it, but by seeing others do it (first).
  • Creativity is just as important as literacy.
  • Kids are inspirational. Take a listen to the PS22 Chorus to demonstrate George’s point. You can learn more about the PS22 Chorus on their blog.
  • “If you are not on Twitter and don’t understand what @ and # mean, you are slowly becoming illiterate!” Wow! This was a powerful message.
  • “It’s all about relationships!”  I can’t agree with this more. It IS all about relationships – with the staff who are on the front lines with our students, with parents, with community groups, and with our Personal Learning Network online.  It isn’t just about the Professional Development you are exposed to, but it is about those relationships you form with others – people who support you and whom you can learn from each and every day.
  • George took this one step further when he said, “If I leave here tonight and I never talk to you again, then you missed the message.”

George Couros described some of the wonderfully inspiring things he, and others, are doing in his division of schools.  

  • George started a blog in which educational leaders from around the world write about important topics in education.  Take a look at Connected Principals and you will be inspired.  You can follow the Connected Principals chat on Twitter by using the #cpchat hashtag.
  • It was during George’s talk about the Identity Day  at his previous school, that we learned about an inspiring student named, Marley.
  • The 184 Days of Learning Project is a great project that focuses on Learning – inside AND outside of the school building because, as George pointed out, learning just doesn’t happen inside the schoolhouse, in fact, most learning happens outside of the school-house walls.
  • The Learning Leader Project looks like a great project that encourages everyone to be learners and demonstrate their own learning to each other. Here’s another post about this inspirational project.
  • Personally, although he didn’t mention it tonight, I love George’s What I See: Videos, Images, and Quotes That Inspire Me, blog. Wouldn’t this be powerful for any learning environment?

When George finished speaking, a new energy filled the room.  The buzz was deafening.  The enthusiasm was exciting.  Multiple administrators approached me immediately to have help with Twitter.  Many other administrators were asking the other Digital Coaches around the room for similar assistance.  One administrator, who admitted to me a week earlier that he just didn’t “get” Twitter, said that George’s talk was transformational.

YES!!!

Transformational!

That was the theme of the evening.  How exciting!

Near the end of his presentation to us, George told us about a quote by Will Richardson.  This quote (and Will’s short blog post in the link below) really emphasises the need for more leaders in education to “get” it. It starts with us! We can’t expect teachers to do this, if we don’t do it first.

Will Richardson said, “Meaningful change ain’t gonna happen for our kids if we’re not willing to invest in it for ourselves first. At the heart, it’s not about schools…it’s about us.”

It is about us, as leaders in education. In order for our education system to transform, or move forward, then WE have to move forward as well.

But, it is important to realize, we don’t need to do it all on our own first, but we do need to START doing something differently. Education is transforming right before our eyes from “sage on the stage” to learning “side-by-side”: admin. with teachers, teachers with admin, teachers with students, students with teachers, students with admin., admin. with students. A similar structure should be found in terms of parents.  We are all in this together and need to be learning together, side-by-side.

George showed us a graphic that not only summed up his evening with us, but also summed up our Digital Discovery Series, and our future learning about 21st Century education.

It is time to move out of our small bubbles that represent out Comfort Zone and move into the discomfort that occurs during the magic of true learning!

Let’s do this together!

Thanks so much, George, for the inspiration, the story-telling, the encouragement, the transformational thinking, and the connection.

I know that I will be contacting you again.

If you want to learn a bit more about George and his story, visit his blog. Also, if you are interested in following George on Twitter, you can do so by following @gcouros.

Here is a photo of George and I at the beginning of the evening.

By the way, at the end of the evening, no less than 12 administrators signed up for Twitter. There is a Twitter information session planned next week at one of our schools – during Spring Break as well.

THIS is learning. Inspiration. Leadership. Transformation.

About Tia M. Dawson

There are many things that define who I am as a person. First of all, I am a mother of 3 wonderful children! I can not express how fortunate we are to have our children in our life! Secondly, I am a Principal of an elementary school Langley, BC. Lastly, I am a person who loves photography. I gain so much enjoyment and satisfaction taking photos. I have learned a great deal about photography since I purchased my first dSLR in 2008. There is so much more to learn though! All three of these things help to describe who I am as a person, but also demonstrate my love of learning - nothing is ever stagnant with any of these. I love to learn!
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5 Responses to Transformation with @gcouros

  1. Wow Tia…the kind words you say here really made my day. The thing is for me, when I speak to a group, it is often the connections that I make on those days that inspire me. The push to get better is reciprocated on these days.

    I am so proud of the work that my division has done in the area of innovative teaching and learning, and how they have implemented it in the work we do every day. The reality of it is that we are never “there”, but I am proud to say that we are always moving forward. Isn’t that what we ask of our kids?

    Again, thank you for the kind words. You asked me that night, “Who inspires you?”; for me, meeting people like you and feeling how passionate they are about our profession and especially our kids, inspires me. How can it not?

    Thanks again 🙂

    • T. Henriksen says:

      Hey George,

      I think the key is that realizing no one is ever ‘there’ and never should be. Our goal should always be to move forward and continue to improve. Together we are better. This is true for leaders, teachers, students, and ALL learners – which should include us all – every day.

      I feel fortunate that we were able to see you in person and connect with you (both at lunch and in the larger group). It is great to hear different perspectives and ideas. While I am aware of some of what is going on in other places because of my connection to Twitter, it was great to bring more people into the conversation.

      Thanks for reading and responding, and thank you for providing inspiration to us all.

      I look forward to meeting your brother next month.

      Tia

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