Blending Leadership in K12 Education

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Opportunities and Realities

For the past 15 years I have worked in a variety of K12 institutions and over the past 5 years I have also had the chance to teach at the graduate school level and start a company (called Explain Everything!). Nearly 100 years ago, John Dewey wrote about a belief that still rings true for many — that “the school must represent present life — life as real and vital to the child as that which he [or she] carries on in the home, in the neighborhood, or on the play-ground.”

When what is taking place inside of a school institution does not reflect (or represent) the opportunities and realities available outside, then it is easy to understand why some students (and parents and teachers) may question the moves that an institution or a leader makes, especially with education technology. Given the access to people, information, tools, and other resources, why is “X” being done in “Y” way?

There are certain things that only technology can do in the service of learning and in the service of helping people to better understand one another.

My most recent co-authored book, Blending Leadership: Six Simple Beliefs for Leading Online and Off, explores this further with a suggestion that in the face of abundant choices for tools and approaches, a blend of both digital and technology-free approaches is needed — or even expected — by today’s learner. There are certain things that only technology can do in the service of learning and in the service of helping people to better understand one another. With certain automation and efficiency tools, effort and energy is saved and the technology essentially creates the time and space for more offline, human, and personal interactions. Not everything needs to be automated or done with technology (in fact it shouldn’t).

Thoughtful Practices in K-12 Education

There is an opportunity for today’s leaders, today’s lead learners (teachers!) to understand all of the choices available for guiding learners but to make decisions based on what will serve human relationships and endeavors best in that particular context. To generalize that any educational technology will solve all of the problems and address all of the challenges that exist in K12 education would be a mistake. We certainly don’t make that claim with Explain Everything. What we do see — and share — are the thoughtful practices of teachers and leaders who use Explain Everything to address context-based needs and strengthen relationships and understandings around their students and other learners.

Blending Leadership: Six Simple Beliefs for Leading Online and Off by Stephen J. Valentine and Dr. Reshan Richards is now available at all major book and ebook retailers: www.amazon.com

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