Dr. Matthew X. Joseph – Follow on Twitter @MatthewXJoseph
In my last post, I talked about Blended learning. I know that it is a risk for educators to move in that direction and want support and trust from their leaders during this shift.
School leaders are asking educators to create a classroom culture where students think critically. Well then, innovative leaders should also be creating that same culture at the school level. If a leader fosters and embraces a culture of innovation and risk taking, then teachers and students learn to do the same thing. This culture of thinking pushes the school or educator to find better and better ways to meet the needs of students.
Innovative leaders foster a culture that is warm, collaborative, and accessible to all. This culture then can encourage all colleagues to offer ideas and try new initiatives/teaching strategies. By creating this culture, leaders create a safe physical and emotional spaces for teachers to explore and develop innovative learning opportunities. This cultural shift encourages more collaboration and less competition among faculty to use digital tools and become creative in planning and lesson delivery.
I recently completed my doctoral dissertation about culture. One of my colleagues at Boston College was Mark McManmon who is currently serving as in the Academic Administration
Office at St. John’s Prep in Danvers. Dr. McManmon’s topic of study was on servant leadership. In rereading his finding this summer I think a lot of the servant leadership skills parallel a leader’s needed skills to create a culture of innovation to promote digital learning.
As educators, we look for collaboration and connections with colleagues, administration, the community, and students, in the pursuit of purposeful work and strong collaboration that produces meaningful learners.
Dr. McManmon defined servant leadership is an understanding and practice of leadership that places the good of those led over the self-interest of the leader. Servant leadership promotes the valuing and developing of people, the building of community, the practice of authenticity, the providing of leadership for the good of those led and the sharing of power and status for the common good of everyone, the total organization and those served by the organization.
I am going to talk about some of the characteristics of this style of leadership and explain why leaders can use these strategies to create a safe culture and promote blended learning. Servant leadership is about leaders displaying authenticity by being learners themselves. For our leaders to be learners in this paradigm shift it creates a collaboration in the building. That collaboration will increase the openness of leaders to gather input from others.
By being learners a servant leader values others and that quickly turns into trust. That trust allows teachers who have never tired a blended lesson to move outside of their comfort zone. And when you move outside the comfort zone. You enter the learning zone.
By providing a learning and growth mindset culture you develop your staff. And in turn their potential is being developed. Building up others through encouragement and affirmation is a key component of servant leadership and in creating a culture to support blended learning.
Leaders provide leadership and by using intuition and foresight to direct the organization. By taking initiative and moving out ahead and setting expectations, leaders can set the culture of risk taking that leads to increase in blended learning.
And when it all comes together leaders build community. By creating a safe culture of risk taking and enhancing relationships and relating well to others, servant leadership style promotes a sense of belonging and connection for all team members. By working collaboratively, emphasizing teamwork. By valuing the differences of others — differing gifts, cultures, personalities, and viewpoints, behaviors become permanently ingrained, habitual, and practiced by both the leadership and workforce.
SO Milford leaders, both school leaders and teacher leaders, I think increasing and strengthening our servant leadership skills will enhance our digital learning culture and all this improves student learning, and that is our job.
Until next time post – keep tuning in and following on twitter at @milford_tech