Doug Johnson (Blue Skunk Blog) shows his leadership in switching his district to GoogleApps for students and staff…actually, just working to bring about the change is prime leadership material.

We are currently undertaking two major projects in our district that will impact lots of staff members. We are installing 157 mounted LCD projectors and 120 interactive white boards between now and winter break throughout the district. And we are switching our e-mail service from Microsoft Exchange to GoogleMail and providing GoogleApps for Education to faculty.

In his post, Doug asks a fundamental question that all leaders face: Any secrets for maintaining one’s sanity when “undertaking an order of new things,” as Niccolo put it? Maintaining a positive attitude in the face of criticism and change is all-important.  One of the challenges in switching to GoogleApps is the fear of what MIGHT happen.

“The greatest mistake we make is living in constant fear that we will make one.”
John Maxwell

Some of those fears include:

  • loss of control over district data
  • FERPA issues with student work
  • lack of security
  • relying on a 3rd party vendor, even if it is Google, to take care of your district’s needs
  • trying to hold a 3rd party vendor accountable for a “free” service
  • challenges from others in the district that you’re not making the right decision

As I reflect on this more, I realize that *I* am not the one with the wrong attitude, it’s those who live in constant fear they will make these mistakes, who are frozen on the doorstep of change, afraid to open the door to opportunity.

Attitude takes a beating whenever you try to bring about change because people just don’t want to do it…you’re “borrowing unnecessary trouble” is THEIR attitude and they’ll go through all sorts of trouble to stop you from taking steps.

Any change agent has to be aware that the changes they bring about will seldom be sweeping in an organization paralyzed by fear…but they should do it anyway. I have hope that small changes that are brought about will transform the District over time…perhaps more so than the “going out in a blaze of glory” changes that I advocated for in my youth.

So, in light of Doug’s leadership, what changes does he inspire me to advocate for?

  • Switch to cloud computing provided by GoogleApps for Education
  • Put a netbook in the hands of every teacher along with required online learning
  • Ceiling-mount projectors
  • Drop-kick scope and sequence out the door and rewrite from scratch AFTER every staff member gets training on 21st Century Learning skills, strategies, and expectations. Pedagogy should be focused ona pedagogy for “knowing what to do when you don’t know what to do” (Read more)
  • Require every teacher in high school to be online learning certified for their state (e.g. TxVSN certified) so that we can capitalize on the benefits of being a Trans-Classroom Teacher. This includes central office level type curriculum people who make decisions, often in isolation of the practical realities of school. As teachers adapt their courses for the online environment, they are forced to reexamine the course design, reconsider curriculum strategies, and make many decisions about what to take out and what to keep, what to add and what to substitute. (read more)

 The problem has never been knowing what changes to bring about, but how to accomplish those changes in ways that everyone is connected. I like “Our Iceberg is Melting” approach…but I find that in very few situations, Step 1–creating a sense of urgency among the right people–doesn’t happen. It isn’t because the right people aren’t getting the message, but they have other priorities and don’t recognize the urgency of change.

While Doug is writing about the challenges he faces, I’d like to see him write about how he created the sense of urgency to bring about the changes he’s referring to. . .it will make for a great campfire story, not unlike one of my favorites:


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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

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