Leaders as Learners

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Leaders as Learners

By Dr. Gail Pletnick

gail-pletnick-nce17From ink wells, to pencils, to typewriters, to keyboards, the resources and tools in education continue changing, just as the concepts and skills needed to prepare our students iterates. The world has moved from the industrial era of old, to the information age of today, and is rapidly transitioning to the innovation age of tomorrow. This evolution dictates that our schools must change and transform to prepare our students for their future. Ink wells can’t be used with iPads. Change is a challenge, but the best way to meet a challenge is to drive the change.

So how do we do that as educational leaders? The answer is simple; as leaders, we must continue to be learners. Leaders must be equipped to tackle the challenging questions associated with the necessary changes in the educational landscape. How should we redefine the profile of a graduate who is future ready? How do we redesign our teaching and learning environments to ensure each student gains the knowledge, skills and dispositions necessary to be successful?  How do we re-imagine our educational systems for the information and innovation eras? The skills and dispositions our students must be armed with to take on the challenges and opportunities before them, are the same skills and dispositions we, as educational leaders, need to learn and apply as we drive change. We cannot all be experts in everything, but we can be leaders in those things we are passionate about. Professional development for leaders must be personalized to meet the individual needs and passions of the leader. It must be a system that drives growth, a system that enriches the individual and is built on a foundation that creates structures to support change. That personalized approach not only creates the best learning environment for each of our students, but is what best meets the professional needs of the adult learners in our systems.

In my district, Dysart Unified School District, we are committed to personalizing learning for our students. We recognize for that vision to become a reality, we must support the growth of our educators. That growth of leaders as learners can be supported through a variety of personalized professional development options. Dysart District is working to expand leadership learning and capacity through personalized staff development options such as, our  Your CALL initiative,  Dysart U, Menu Mondays and other internal efforts. Additionally, we encourage our leaders to work collaboratively with educators from across this country who are innovating and driving the transformation we must see in our schools. AASA’s Personalized Learning Cohort and Digital Consortium are two examples of opportunities for leaders to work collaboratively, on critical problems of practice utilizing creative and supportive approaches. It is valuable to learn from people who have a similar focus and challenge, but bring unique perspective and ideas on implementing their vision. The AASA supported cohorts provide opportunities for personalized professional development that inspires the leader as a learner.   


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