So I always try to read something to get me thinking over spring break.. (I was not good about blogging last year but I read Most Likely To Succeed by Tony Wagner and College Unbound by Selingo – books I suggest to everyone)
So this spring break I read Blending Leadership by Reshan Richards and Stephen J. Valentine.
First, I should say that I know Reshan through Apple Distinguished Educators – we have worked on a few projects at the same time but don’t know each other very well. He is well known for his company Explain Everything but I will say by reading this book, I have definitely developed a great respect for him, his blended perspective (industry, K-12 and higher education).
He was talking about this book in Summer 2017 at ADE Institute and I bought it online but never read it but picked it up as my spring break book. I am really glad I did.
The overall premise of the book.. is that modern leadership requires us to think about leading in both the face to face and virtual world and that acts of servant leadership exist in online too. I took notes as I read the book, so it may seem kind of stream of consciousness but let me share some big ideas.
Truly Blended Scholarship
What struck me first about this book was truly the blended leadership and blended information seeking that is both spoken about in the book and practiced in it. In a higher education position being active on Twitter and interacting with blogs is not rewarded valued and questioned from any of the reasons that are discussed in the book (no peer review, no editing).
However this is how I learned much of what I do, and my Professional Learning Community is in Blogs and Twitter So I was really excited when I saw that kind of reading combined with the reading that I do and the people that I know including Anne Ottenbreit Leftwich, Peggy Ertmer and wCharles Graham, people that I know professionally or went to grad school with. These are well respected educational technologists and the authors of this book did a great job of weaving peer reviewed research articles with writings from business, and even blog posts. (I personally loved that they talked about the Agile Manifesto as I got my SCRUM certification this summer) This book is very appropriate for someone who’s a professor in Education who is also engaging in the PLN that teachers are. In fact I am going to encourage some of our educational readers to read this book to think about their role in both face to face and online spaces as leaders. This book is great and perhaps necessary read as we rethink scholarship and its value in academia.. This book provides a good example that someone can be engaging in reading peer reviewed scholarship but can also be informed by blogs. Which I personally feel are growing in importance as I have had “albatross” articles that have taken years to publish while their findings leak relevancy as each month passes by.
Practice what you Preach –
There was a lot in this book about the behaviors and habits of effective leaders in the digital age. Some of the better ones included:
Be open in your communication and share your personal networks when it matches shared interest.. (Ie.. Don’t tweet a bunch of stuff on High School calculus to your network if it is all kindergarten teachers – but totally cool to talk about human development as it affects all ages.. (My example)
Be open with your tech use and share your experiences and be a participant leader working collaboratively with your team. (ie.. practice what you teach)
Consider taking care of digital spaces as servant leadership – ie.. if you would not let trash sit in a hallway, why would you let a Google Doc become unwieldy with comments and strikethroughs.
On being a flexible leader and tech user
Don’t get caught up on the tools for one purpose – remain flexible and know that the tool you love today could be gone tomorrow. Use the tools, but we willing to pivot if something better comes along or it not longer meets your needs.
I totally love how they deal with SAMR – it drives me nutty that people use it as a ranking for teachers, when it was not intended to be that way.. I always think about it as varied stimulus. We all had teachers who used worksheets all the time, and never let you create something, and another teacher who was all into creation, that you never got through content. There is a balance, where scaffolded learning helps learners learn both facts but also apply them and create with them.
A blended leader is open and flexible and pays attention to the people they work with and allow them opportunities to grow and lead. They maintain online spaces to free people up to be creative and productive.
They also unplug when needed – being online is a choice and people are still key to the process.
Blended leaders choose the use of technology when it serves them well and are intentional to promote their organizations and their organization’s mission. I really loved how they talked about companies that we love for their clear communication of their mission and how they asked – why aren’t schools doing more of that? There are some really good ideas how every teacher or faculty member can participate in this mission.(which is a growing shadow work required of faculty in these rough budget times)
(on a related note: I LOVED reading this as a purchase from the IBooks Store.. I was able to highlight and transfer my highlights to Notes easily which made writing this blog post easy (even when I was on a plane or without network connectivity) I only wish my highlighted sections could be more easily shown as complete – but I love that it will align them to printed page numbers.
Also I read this book in about 5 hours – in two sittings – a quick read and very useful.
Check out this book on the iBooks Store: https://itun.es/us/D6epdb.l