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Prior to looking at Connected Educational Leaders (shared with me by Lyn Hilt), I did a simple Google search for “Blog Rich Kiker.” Rich is a Google for Education Partner, among many other things and I had been inspired by his passion for technology and learning in two of his workshops that I attended. However, when surfing through the results, I stumbled upon a blog about Rich Kiker. The blog discussed meeting Rich and hearing him speak at Educon. Not exactly what I was looking for but the author’s name sounded familiar. Spike Cook? With so many resources that we’ve been exposed to over the last few weeks, who knows where I would have recognized the name but after a few clicks in the blog, I found myself reading through his 365 blog challenge and that’s when it hit me it was from Eric Sheninger’s Chapter 3 Digital Leadership.
Blogging daily? I remembered how crazy that sounded two weeks ago and still resonated as it’s been exhausting creating and maintaining a blog for 3 weeks. In fact, this is the second time writing this post as Google Docs failed to save my writing (actually I think it was a spotty internet connection during a lightning storm). Nevertheless, Dr. Cook (@DrSpikeCook) spent 2014 blogging daily for his blog 365 challenge while he was principal at a New Jersey Elementary. He is currently Principal at a New Jersey Middle School and continues to blog today. What could you possibly blog about for every day for a year? Well, he discusses everything from assessments to PLCs to martial arts, parenting tips while being filled with multi-media rich content.
Dr. Spike Cook's Blog
I decided to respond to a post that I thought was appropriate for this time of year. We often become reflective at the end of the calendar year but we need to ensure we reflect at the end of the school year. We may be in a hurry to reach summer without properly paying respect to the year that was. On this particular post, Dr. Cook posts a few reflective questions that I thought was appropriate for this time of the year as many of us have reached the end of the school year or will be in the next few weeks. The practice of reflection is just one pertinent benefit of blogging. Taking the time for reflection is a powerful process that awakens our awareness about teacher or leadership effectiveness. For a moment, forget about the large audience that your blog can reach but keep in mind that the pure power of journaling and the benefits it has for our own mental state in any profession, or even personally.
Our experiences, thoughts, and practices no longer need to be kept secretive and there are several digital platforms that allow educational leaders to connect pertaining to an unlimited amount of topics as can clearly be seen through Dr. Cook’s Edublogs. On blogging, Sheninger notes “there is no better tool for sharing detailed student and staff accomplishments” but it only starts there. “They allow for detailed descriptions of classroom innovations, summaries of school events, description of large construction projects, student guest posts, and state-of-the-school/district messages. Most important, they allow leaders to tell their good stories.”
We all are aware of the importance of branding and the role it plays in our decision making. From the running shoes we buy (even if we aren’t runners), the restaurants we eat at and the social media platforms we use and the ones we follow. This is the first time I am looking at branding through the lens of a school district. As we become digital leaders, the impact of “a distinctive sum experience” can create a positive brand which can “instill a greater sense of pride in the leaders’ work and/or school function” (Sheninger, 2014). According to Born, these public relations can three main goals which include increasing awareness, shaping perceptions and attitudes, and influencing behavior. Sharing your school’s story can mold and influence the school’s culture from the inside out and promote a healthy, transparent relationship between stakeholders and the district. Social media has entirely changed the way districts, administrators and teachers communicate, not only among themselves, but with their community. “...we need to fully engage parents so that they not only understand, but feel absolutely comfortable with all the school practices and policies” (Sheninger’s Blog; A Principal’s Reflections).
Sheninger, E. (2014). Digital leadership: Changing paradigms for changing times. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
Born, C. (2013). The technology ready administrator: Standards-based performance. Morrisville, NC: Lulu Enterprises, Inc.