The Truth About 1:1
I started my Master’s degree in Educational Administration in 2010. I finished in May of 2013.
For three years I studied 21st century educational leadership. I read articles and textbooks, analyzed case studies, and discussed with classmates and professors the traits and characteristics of effective school leaders. In 2011, I started using social networking sites to develop a PLN and began learning from a group of highly successful school administrators throughout the country. Many of these administrators contributed to my capstone project: The Impact of the Tech-Savvy School Leader on School Culture.
I often imagined what it would be like to work for the kind of school leadership team I had studied for so long: a group of people with a clear vision for their school, which included an emphasis on providing students and teachers with the latest technology, and the ability to effectively communicate that vision to all stakeholders. I also wondered what it would be like to work for a leadership team that:
- Gave teachers trust, support, and autonomy
- Respected a teacher’s time and believed in collaborative professional development
- Offered constructive feedback focused on improvement of instructional strategies
- Encouraged strategic risk-taking in order to improve teaching and learning
- Was visible, accessible and engaged in the school community
- Valued teachers as leaders
I honestly thought I would never have the opportunity to work for a school with this type of leadership. However, now that I am at Burlington High School, I am fortunate to work for the type of leaders I studied for the past three years. In just one month, I have had more conversations, more POSITIVE and PRODUCTIVE conversations, with members of the Burlington school leadership team than I ever had in any of my previous districts. The leaders in Burlington are approachable and genuine. They’ve made time to answer my questions and they’ve said “yes” to the ideas that I’ve presented.
I’ve been told several times by the administration, “let us know what we can do to help you,” and I’ve been given more freedom and flexibility in my new position that it has been quite a culture shock, but in the best way possible. If I need to talk with the superintendent, assistant superintendent, my building principal or assistant principals, I know exactly where to find them. And when we’ve chatted in the hallway, they’ve made it a point to say hello to every student and teacher (by name I might add) who walks by. To me, that is the perfect illustration of a 1:1 school environment.
The truth about 1:1 is that it’s not abut the technology, it’s about the culture. Does access to technology contribute to this positive school culture? I believe it does and I am fortunate to finally work at a school where the school leaders believe it too.
Pictured below is the BHS principal, Mark Sullivan. Most mornings you can find him where all school principals should start their day: not in their office, but in the lobby area of their school, talking with students, faculty, and staff.