Creating spaces for sharing

spacesThis past month we have been running a project in our school district we call #STSDLearns. Throughout the week, teachers and administrators provide a glimpse of what goes on in our schools via tweets tagged with the #STSDLearns hashtag. I’m pleased with how it has developed over the past month with a few additional teachers sharing out each week.  You can view a Storify of each of the first four weeks on SalisburySD.US.

The logical next-step question is, “How do we provide the space for students to share out what they are learning?” Right now, this project has been limited to the adults. We have not engaged the students in such sharing, but we need to figure out how. Baby steps. Move slow to move fast…

In Pennsylvania, our administrators are now evaluated using the Framework for Leadership consisting of four domains and various components within each domain. For evaluation purposes, each administrator selects two (2) components in each domain to focus on, creating individualized goals to work on for the year. As we wrap up the current school year and think about next year, I see three areas that will be a common focus for all administrators on the team moving into 2015-16:

  • Component 1e: celebrates accomplishments and acknowledges failures
  • Component 2e: communicates effectively and strategically
  • Component 4a: maximizes professional responsibilities through parent involvement and community engagement

While these are sufficiently broad for each administrator to develop a goal tailored to their needs and the needs of their school or department, based on our particular context, I see these as high leverage areas where goals, successfully met, will propel us toward our vision and the kinds of student, teacher and parent behaviors we value most. The #STSDLearns project is one example of how we are trying to model the importance and value of sharing and how our administrators might develop similar projects in their schools.

Several days ago I encountered an older blog post from George Couros that helped me make a connection between the #STSDLearns project and the goal focus areas mentioned above. In the post, George shared a compelling argument as to the importance of sharing online – the WHY:

I often get the argument about why students need to share online and I ask the same two questions of parents getting relatively the same two answers.

“What do you ask your child when they get home from school?”

“What did you learn today?”

“What do they say?”

“Nothing.”

Then I talk about the possibility of seeing through a blog and now changing the question to, “I saw that you wrote about _____ today. Why don’t you tell me more about it?”  This is a totally different question because of the work that we are doing, that will get a much more meaningful answer.  Parents don’t want to be just involved in schools, but engaged in the process of their child’s learning.  If you can show them how that is possible with real examples, you are more than likely to have them excited about the possibilities and more critically, feeling like a partner in the learning process and sharing their expertise on their child with us.  That is a beautiful thing.

Something as simple as sharing online is not only communication, but it often celebrates achievements and acknowledges challenges faced in the learning process while providing parents and the community with an uncommon lens through which to engage our students about what they are learning. If we are going to make sharing online – by both our students and our teachers in whatever digital format – a part of the culture, something that naturally happens and is expected, we need to think about compelling reasons why such as the one posed by George. I’m looking forward to seeing the kinds of innovative goals our administrators develop and what kind of spaces we create for our students and teachers as a result.

What are other compelling reasons we as leaders need to create space for students and teachers to share their work? What innovative spaces have you, your students and your teachers created for communicating, sharing successes and engaging parents?

 

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