Beginning the Conversation Around 21st Century Skills With the Connected Teacher

As the Assistant Head of School, I consider myself to be in the enviable position of working on a variety of strategic curricular initiatives simultaneously with a variety of people connected to our school. This also requires that I keep up with educational trends, journals, and any other literature published on the web, Twitter, or the blogosphere on an almost daily basis. It is difficult to parse through all of this information at once, much less make sense of how it might apply to my school and existing projects here. Yet, leadership requires the ability to both look ahead to the horizon while keeping one’s hands firmly on the wheel and feet planted on the deck, and thus steer through calm and stormy weather with the same even-handed and predictable approach.

This time I have spent since last December on developing my personal/professional learning network (PLN) has been tremendous and served to further my growth as an educator and as an administrator in ways that no conference or workshop could have. Indeed, I have shared and even led a Twitter How-to Session for Administrators at my school, and plan to offer one for the teachers soon. This PLN has also helped me unify my vision of the various strategic initiatives we have undertaken at Alexandria Country Day School since the 2010-2011 school year under the 21st Century Skills umbrella. However, this topic is almost too broad, and I have been thinking off and on about where to now take this conversation and plant it firmly in the ground with our teachers, parents, and the Board. The recent NAIS Annual Conference was helpful in establishing some next steps, and in a previous post, I shared the ten items Pat Bassett, President of NAIS, shared in his opening remarks.

The way I see it now, this same approach that has helped me professionally is where we begin the conversation around 21st Century Skills for all of our teachers – help them develop their own PLNs first so they can see and learn firsthand from the human and electronic resources available instantly at their desks, or for those with a web-enabled phone, in their pockets!

If we wish our students to be connected learners, it behooves us then that we model the same outcome by first becoming connected ourselves! This realization came as an epiphany to me, although it may seem obvious to many of you. Please contact me if you or your school has developed a professional growth plan to help your teachers develop a PLN.

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