This graphic above that I created with Bill Ferriter is something that I hope sparks conversations, but also stories of how these things are already happening in schools. I am going to use it as a guide to show how technology can enhance, amplify, and accelerate leadership. I encourage others to share their stories from one of the “better answers” above.
As I was at an admin meeting as a principal, and listening to something that really had nothing to do with the my own school or building, I remember usually using this time to catch up on email. Since I had to stay at the meeting, I thought that I would use this time in a valuable way. One time though, I decided that I would read student blogs since they had just started. I was blown away by some of the things that kids were writing, so I decided to comment and share some of my thoughts with them. This was a great way for me to connect with our students while I was out of the building and get a glimpse into their learning.
What I didn’t realize was the impact that this would have on our students. I remember coming back to school and seeing a few of the students that I commented on their blogs and it felt like they were ready to throw a parade for me. It was amazing at how excited they were that I simply commented on their blog, but then I thought about it. I would have been so excited if my principal would have done the same thing when I was a student, but the reality is that when I was a kid that it didn’t exist. Many of the students appreciated the time that I took to write something simple to them and acknowledge not only what they were creating and sharing, but also how hard they were working.
After this experience, I went out of my way to comment to as many of my teacher and student blogs, no matter what they had shared. Reading a blog is beneficial to the reader, but commenting actually really connected to the person willing to share their thoughts. Even if it was a simple announcement of something that happened in the classroom, taking the time to read and, more importantly, comment, helped to create better connections when I saw the people trying something new in person. I would not hide myself in my office and comment to student or teacher blogs, but would do this when I had some down time, as I tried to connect in person as much as I could when I was in the building.
What I have truly believed is that technology isn’t meant to replace face-to-face interactions, but if anything, it can enhance them. Those couple of minutes of commenting, actually created something where my students showed that they appreciated my effort, and I theirs. Being able to show that you value someone, even from afar, is still showing them they are valued.
Technology used in these meaningful ways can create connections that we might not have necessarily been able to create from afar before.