Reflecting on Eric Scheninger’s Digital Leadership notes I’ve been sharing over the last 2 weeks, one reader wrote in and shared this perspective:

I’m pretty close to despair about fostering positive, substantive change in my district.  I kind of feel like I’m trying to set fire to an iceberg using a cigarette lighter.  Haven’t given up quite yet, but close.

Wow, isn’t that a catchy comparison? Imagining that school districts are like frozen icebergs and change agents trying to bring about change is like trying to set fire with a puny cigarette lighter!

The analogy makes me think of the popular book, Our Iceberg is Melting (read my notes on that book). The reader who wrote in also shared that they might take the following action:

I need to get the Digital Leadership book & read it.  I may also give it to administrators at my admin conference in August.

Be warned, school districts! If someone gives you a copy of Eric Scheninger’s book, Digital Leadership, it may be a wake-up call to change what you’re doing! If we continue the analogy of school district systems as icebergs, we can certainly ask ourselves, how exactly should we go about, as Eric requires us, doing the following:

 How do we establish a vision and implement a strategic process that creates a teaching and learning culture that provides students with essential skill sets: creativity, communication, collaboration, critical thinking, problem solving, technological proficiency and global awareness? Source: Eric Scheninger’s Digital Leadership

Having suffered this frustration multiple times in my career as an edtech reformer, I’m not sure I have an answer anymore. I know what works for me, but moving an entire system along can be challenging. That’s why studying systems thinking is important but there are so many variables, so many potential places to “slip and fall or fall through on the ice” that it is often easier to put your head down and do what you can…keep your vision focused on what you can achieve. The act of culture modification, and/or creation, can be quite a disappointment.

I am slowly convinced, against my will, that change does require fantastic leaders who have internalized all that needs to be done, who can sense the tidal flows in the school district culture ocean, work actively to influence those in a way that people find themselves slowly acknowledging the change that must be made. Unfortunately, that is hard work that I suspect many leaders–and, dare I say it, including me–find difficult. It’s akin to waking up one morning and realizing that your bowl is too small to scoop the ocean.

So, how do we scoop the ocean together? What are the engines of transformation? That’s what books like Digital Leadership, Leaders of Learning, Our Iceberg is Melting are about. Applying any one of them to our work in schools is an adventure in itself; trying to do more than one is mind-boggling.

I’m reminded of anomie, a word I learned in my high school sociology class:

Durkheim’s use of the term anomie was about a phenomenon of industrialization—mass-regimentation that could not adapt due to its own inertia—its resistance to change, which causes disruptive cycles of collective behavior e.g. economics, due to the necessity of a prolonged buildup of sufficient force or momentum to overcome the inertia. Source: Wikipedia

Are schools not “mass regimented,” unable to adapt due to their own inertia of the way things have been done, how technology is ever so slowly adopted? Aren’t schools facing disruptive cycles due to the prolonged buildup of force to overcome that inertia? I don’t know, but it’s interesting to ask these questions.

Want to set an iceberg on fire? Marshal the power of the sun…or the collective behavior of everyone in the organization.

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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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