Deputy Secretary of Education to Personalized Learning Cohort: ‘Your Efforts Will Make a Difference’

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personalized fall 18-1The 2018 fall meeting of the AASA Personalized Learning Cohort is convening in Glendale, Ariz., home of the Dysart Unified School District. U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education Mitchell Zais served as keynote speaker during last night’s opening session, held at the Renaissance Phoenix Glendale Hotel, and it was apparent that he supports personalized learning and its impact on students.

“I’m grateful of what you’re doing to improve personalized learning opportunities for the students within your districts and to provide freedom for teachers to be creative and innovative in their classrooms,” the Secretary told the cohort. “Your efforts will make a difference.”

“That’s exactly what this group is all about,” said Daniel A. Domenech, executive director of AASA, The School Superintendents Association, immediately following the Secretary’s remarks.

Gail Pletnick, immediate past president of AASA, recently retired as superintendent of Dysart Schools, host site for the fall meeting. Today, superintendents and other administrators are visiting schools in the district to get a firsthand look at personalized learning in action.

personalized fall 18-2“We really appreciate the opportunity to host this meeting,” said Pletnick who serves as co-chair of the AASA Personalized Learning Cohort. “To me, this mission is about equity. If we can create that student-centered environment, then we’re going to reach every single child.”

“Personalized learning is the essence of creativity and innovation for kids,” said Valerie Truesdale, associate superintendent, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, N.C., and co-chair of the AASA Personalized Learning Cohort. “I thank members of this cohort for pushing each other so we can transform America’s classrooms and reach the needs of every learner.”

“[Personalized Learning] is not hypothesis anymore. It’s not theory anymore. It’s real and it’s happening,” said Domenech. “Personalized learning is playing a critical role to provide each child the education that is appropriate for that child. That’s equity.”

Objectives of the three-day meeting include:

  • Define the critical elements of personalized learning;
  • Identify specific focus areas of interest for personalized learning to support the work of the AASA Personalized Learning Cohort and members’ districts;
  • Develop plans to support each other and participants’ districts in the work to personalize learning.

personalized fall 18-3“Personalized learning is not the same everywhere,” said Chris Gaines, president of AASA and superintendent of Missouri’s Mehlville School District. “When we see it in action, we can ask ourselves, ‘How can I make this work in my district or in a school in my district? How can we bring it to scale across my district so every student has [personalized learning] opportunities?’”

On Thursday, the cohort will travel to Dysart’s Shadow Ridge High School and have the ability to see key aspects of what personalized learning entails, including learning spaces, architecture and engineering.

“Students need learning environments that are flexible, relevant and exciting,” said Secretary Zais. “Each student has different interests, different abilities and different aspirations. This is not a partisan view.”

“Across the country, districts are finding ways to get parents and students the freedom to chart their own futures and pursue their own dreams, not somebody else’s dreams. No stigma should stand in the way of a student’s pursuit of fulfilling a career and meaningful life,” he added.

To learn more about the program, visit the AASA Personalized Learning Cohort web page, which includes AASA’s recently produced case studies featuring several members of the cohort. Superintendents and other school system leaders can also contact Mort Sherman, AASA associate executive director, leadership services, at msherman@aasa.org or Debbie Magee, program manager, at dmagee@aasa.org.

To join the conversation via Twitter, access the hashtags #LearnPLinAction and #AASAPersonalizedLrng

Student's View: Final Blog Post

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Student's View: Final Blog Post

By Tatiana Le, student intern, AASA, The School Superintendents Association

Final Photo with InternI am tremendously grateful for the time I’ve spent as an intern here at AASA, The School Superintendents Association. It was my first internship ever, so maybe I’m not in the best position to say this, but I found this experience extremely valuable to my academic and budding professional career.

First off, I learned much more than I expected to learn. I think that every student—at some point or another—subscribes to the fear that early internships are nothing but pits of busywork and coffee-making. While I didn’t take those fears face-value, I did expect more grunt work than I got.

Jay Goldman, editor of School Administrator and one of my supervisors, made sure I got experience reading, writing and editing different parts of AASA’s print and online publications, as well as a few other popular education magazines. I’ve had the chance to proofread features, help select covers and visit all the different departments of AASA.

Gayane Minasyan, director of online technologies and my other supervisor, had me writing this blog, handling social media and learning the web content management system. I sat in on webinars, designed toolkits and graphics, wrote mobile app alerts, conducted interviews and more. I never wore just one hat here at AASA, which I suppose is how most everyone at AASA works. It’s a small community of people juggling an abundance of different tasks.

Second, I can’t claim that the internship did an upheaval of my previous life decisions and goals, but my exposure to so many new people in different positions made me consider my options more. I still want to teach, but I’ve realized that I have to start thinking more than just one step ahead.

There’s no guarantee I’ll want to teach forever, and even otherwise, this adventure has taught me the importance of diversifying your interests and trying new things. My time at college isn’t preparing me for a life-long career at 19, it’s teaching me the tools to eventually find one. It’s a little embarrassing to admit that I actually never considered the superintendency as a logical end point to my career path as a teacher but guess that’s what internships are for. I have to get out into the world and see what other people are doing out of college to know what’s possible for me.

I’d like to thank everyone I’ve met at AASA for giving up some of their time to share their insight and advice with me. Some big highlights were my discussions with Kayla Jackson and Rebecca Shaw, project director and coordinator of Children’s Initiatives and Program Development, and Vera Turner, project manager of Leadership Services. That’s not to mention the people who guided me through tasks like Liz Griffin, managing editor of School Administrator, Juli Doshan, senior editorial assistant, and Deanna Atkins, digital content manager. I’ve been to networking events at college before, but it feels so much more organic to have a conversation with someone who works in the same building as you. Many of the college students I know, including myself, are terrified of networking. Networking didn’t feel like a conversation until this internship. I hope that I get more and more comfortable talking to adults as my career continues.

I also hope that my successor and any other intern looking for some reflection space keeps a blog too. I’m truly glad that my supervisor put me up to it. The writing process has given me time to sit down and process why I’m really here interning for the summer rather than working a diner job to pay for textbooks or spending three weeks at the beach. I can confidently say that I made the right choice.

Student’s View: 2018 Legislative Advocacy Conference

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Student’s View: 2018 Legislative Advocacy Conference

By Tatiana Le, student intern, AASA, The School Superintendents Association

Leaders MatterI have officially attended my first AASA Legislative Advocacy Conference; what an exciting introduction to the world of Capitol Hill!

As an intern at AASA, The School Superintendent’s Association, I had the opportunity to attend the first two days of this year’s Legislative Advocacy Conference. There, AASA finally launched the Leaders Matter Campaign that I had been hearing about for so long (http://aasacentral.org/leadersmatter/). The campaign is focused on showcasing superintendent leadership and its effects on schools and students. From what I garnered listening to superintendents speak, I can tell there’s a lot of leadership to show off.

On the first day of the conference, I sat in on the panel sessions. The most interesting was the session titled Higher Education Act and Teacher Shortage with Joni Booth, senior client development consultant, Gallup, Tamara Hiller, deputy director of education, Third Way, and Stephen Kostyo, policy advisor, Learning Policy Institute. I remember losing the entire Spanish department junior year at my high school, but I didn’t anticipate seeing almost every superintendent’s hand go up when asked if they were experiencing teacher shortages. As someone so excited to teach after college, it is disheartening to hear that 69 percent of teachers are not engaged in their job and 73 percent of actively disengaged teachers are looking for a new job.

The panelists noted a handful of reasons I expected to see teachers cite for leaving like pay, career advancement and fit. However, I didn’t expect to hear a reason that has already impacted me: licensure.

I live in Virginia but go to college in Pennsylvania, and so because licensure varies by state, I had to redo my fingerprints and background checks for permission to teach in classroom fieldwork. As a low-income student, I wasted precious time and money in this process.

Women in School Leadership CollageOne of the solutions the panelists suggested was a Common Application for Teacher Licensure. Knowing how popular the college Common App is, the idea is intriguing. It’s a concept I’m taking with me for further research and deliberation with my peers. The presentation slides for all the panel sessions can be found at http://aasa.org/policy-blogs.aspx?id=42723&blogid=84002

On the second day of the conference, I spent some time with Vera Turner, project manager, education and communications at AASA. She was working on taping interviews for the Women in School Leadership Video Series. I got to see women superintendents like Debbi Burdick, Cave Creek Unified School District, Gail Pletnick, Dysart Unified School District, and Traci Davis, Washoe County School District, speak about their leadership experiences.

Every woman had a very different story to tell, but similar key takeaways. Each superintendent mentioned communication and relationship building as keys to their success. Some of the women have been superintendents over 18 years and still accredit their ability to succeed to the support systems they were introduced to by their mentors and women role models. They talked about coming into the position ready to face off against the world and instead found strength in the ability to step back and ask for help.

It was amazing to hear about the journeys these women have had to the superintendency; I never realized how many people become superintendents by circumstance rather than by intention. As inspiring as the interviews were, the videos won’t be released for another couple of months, so I don’t want to prematurely spoil anything. I look forward to seeing the results, which will be available at http://www.aasa.org/content.aspx?id=39412

So as overwhelming as it was to be barraged by a ballroom full of new faces, I’m really honored I got the opportunity to attend the conference. Listening to President Chris Gaines’ address during the installment reminded me just how much time and effort every member puts into AASA, whether as a member of the governing board, executive committee or as president of the organization. According to him, if the officials on Capitol Hill think that school classrooms are just filled with students sitting at desks in rows, it is the fault of the superintendents for not educating their Representatives and inviting them into their schools. It was incredible to listen to him call everyone to action.

This conference was my first glimpse into the types of events organizations like AASA hold. It also opened my eyes to the level of awareness and sense of responsibility educators take on when representing their districts to their government officials.

 

 

Student's View: Top Five Reasons to Join AASA, The School Superintendents Association

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Student's View: Top Five Reasons to Join AASA, The School Superintendents Association

By Tatiana Le, student intern, AASA, The School Superintendents Association

 Membership Brochure

 In my quest to unravel the mysteries of AASA, The School Superintendents Association, I found an opportunity to interview C.J. Reid, associate executive director, governance, membership & affiliate services.

What I learned about AASA membership from C.J. wasn’t what I expected. There aren’t five amazing reasons I can list that will convince any school administrator to join AASA, there are over 20,000 reasons: one slightly different, personal reason for each individual member. C.J. summarized the situation succinctly, “There is no one silver bullet to membership.”  

As such, I’m going to attempt to come up with my five bronze bullets to consider when debating whether to become an AASA member. 

1. Legal support program

Insurance, as C.J. put it, “is important, but not sexy.” Insurance is one of those things that most people hope never to use, but they sleep better at night knowing it’s there anyway.

I know as well as the next person how necessary that security can be. Life likes to hit us all with a little rain now and then. Through the legal support program, AASA is providing its members up to $20,000 in legal support now, up from $10,000 last year.  

2. Advocacy

As a national association, AASA can advocate for school leaders in ways that state associations logistically can’t. From preserving Medicaid spending in schools to ensuring that low-income students are able to eat breakfast, AASA does its best to represent the interests of school leaders trying to help their students on Capitol Hill and in the White House. That means constantly listening to members online, in person or through the governing board and executive committee. AASA represents its members to the government, not the other way around.

3. Networking

There is only one superintendent in a school district; sometimes, superintendents are spread over multiple districts. AASA’s national network of superintendents gives school leaders the ability to connect and collaborate with people facing similar problems across the country. The support of a community can have astronomical effects on district confidence and success. C.J. is convinced that AASA’s National Conference on Education could be “a room full of chairs and the superintendents would all be content to talk to each other for three hours.”

4. Professional development

AASA hosts an ever-growing collection of programs, cohorts, consortia and academies to help school administrators lead and support their respective schools. Twenty percent of AASA members retire every year, which means that school administrators need to be prepared for a variety of environments, challenges and positions. Whether that means taking advantage of the Urban Superintendent’s Academy or The Rural School and Community Trust, AASA does its best to provide opportunities for its members to grow. 

5. School Administrator (and other resources)

School Administrator, AASA’s award-winning monthly magazine full of insight from school administrators and other professionals in the field, is physically sent to every member every month.

Additionally, members receive two electronic newsletters, all AASA toolkits, access to the resource library and discounts for all AASA books. AASA ensures that all members stay as updated and prepared as possible. If that means having a 24-hour hotline as part of the School Safety & Crisis Planning toolkit, AASA makes it happen. 

 

Learn more about AASA at aasa.org and if you like what you see, join at aasa.org/join or call 703-875-0748. 

Student's View: What Does College and Career Readiness Mean?

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Student's View: What Does College and Career Readiness Mean?

By Tatiana Le, student intern, AASA, The School Superintendents Association

Graduation

AASA, The School Superintendents Association, recently released the winners of the 2018 Redefining Ready! Scholarship Contest, which asked high school seniors to create 30-second videos about why they’re ready for college, careers and life beyond grades or a test score. Some got creative like the national first place winner, Daniel Zhang, who made a rap about his high school accomplishments. Others vlogged, drew diagrams and even made presentations. All the videos can be found at http://www.aasa.org/2018-winners.aspx.

While I can’t say much about how high school prepared me for a career or life just yet, watching the videos made me think about my own high school experience and how it prepared me for my first year of college.

I did my fair share of exploring in high school. I joined my school’s swim team without knowing how to swim and drowned for the first three weeks of practice before getting the hang of it and committing to swim for two years. Then, I moved onto the color guard team, where I became captain as a senior.

I did some academic extracurriculars too. I was vice president of my national honor society chapter and president of my school’s math and English honor societies. I was captain of the speech team, placing at states my third year. I helped found a volunteer club called Cranes for a Cause, which got its name from our first project where we folded 1,000 cranes to decorate the office of a staff member who lost her husband. From that club and other miscellaneous organizations, I racked up over 400 hours of community service by graduation. I also wasn’t coming home until well after 10 pm some days because I was paranoid I wasn’t doing enough.

In retrospect, what prepared me the most for college were the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma program. Like many other students, I did a lot of what I did just to build my resume. The IB Diploma was no exception. I wanted to take the hardest classes offered at my school and walk away with a tangible diploma to dangle in front of college admissions.

That was the wrong mentality to have. You don’t receive your IB Diploma until after graduation, so all I had for college admissions was the “IB Diploma Candidate” title on my transcript. What really prepared me for college was the immense amount of writing I did in the diploma program. I had to write an internalized assessment (IA) at least 10 pages long for every class, a 4,000 word Extended Essay and a 3,000 word Theory of Knowledge essay on top of the essays I was getting as regular classwork (at least an essay or two a week).

All that experience helped me write my scholarship essays, which helped me receive a full four-year scholarship through Questbridge. Writing in high school taught me the drafting, editing and time management skills I use today as an English major. It’s also a marketable skill I use when applying for my internships and part time jobs. As much as I understand the mentality to accumulate as many high school accolades as possible for college applications, you can only fit so much on a one-page resume. After getting into college, nobody cares if you played football in high school if you don’t have the maturity and diligence to handle the coursework as a prospective chemistry major.

I think that the ability to prioritize and hone a few key skills is essential to success in college. Whether a student joins 12 clubs in high school or two, those clubs must mean something beyond a talking point for college interviews.

Student's View: Why Student Leadership is Important in Education

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Student's View: Why Student Leadership is Important in Education

By Tatiana Le, student intern, AASA, The School Superintendents Association

Anyone can say that student leadership is important in education, but the harder part is explaining why.

First, to be blunt, leadership experience is essential for students to be competitive as they apply for jobs, college and scholarships. In almost every college interview I had, I was asked to tell a story depicting a time where I stepped up as leader. If the interviewer wanted to stump me, they’d ask me to describe a time where I “solved a problem” or “accomplished something I was proud of.” My job was to fluently deliver a story that was genuine, unique and most importantly, that showed off my skills as an innovator and leader. Those stories can’t be told without experience.

Past the surface though, student leadership is crucial in building confidence. So many students struggle to stand up for themselves when it matters most to them. In class, students listen to their teachers and the rubrics they receive. At home, they listen to their parents, their grandparents and their older siblings. If I didn’t push myself to run for office positions and speak out, I could have easily found myself doing nothing but listening to people throughout high school, whether on a sports team, in a club or in a group project.

I remember one of my best friends in high school constantly complaining about how our honor societies had become husks; applications ceased to be selective and members faked their service hours to earn cords to wear at graduation. As much as she was frustrated, she never ran for president. She never spoke to the society sponsors or the school administration because she thought she could never change it. She complained to me and not the rest of the student body because she thought that everyone else was content with the situation when the reality was, there were other students fed up with the system too. They were all just waiting for a leader to come along because it was easier to wait.

Academic Quiz Bowl Tournament

Students should not feel powerless in an institution that is supposed to empower them. However, when they feel they are trapped in situations where they have no say, it’s no wonder why they prefer to obey, get their good grades and get out. Not to say that there is no room for followers. Every leader needs strong followers to get anything done, but that strength comes from the confidence of knowing that you are a leader in your own way. You are not following to follow, but you are following because you believe in the leader’s ideas and you know you can step up and lead if you disagree.

I built my confidence as captain of the academic quiz bowl team. There is nothing more terrifying to me than being tested in front of people whose jobs are to score your mistakes. I had to do that, and I had to have the guts to tell other people they should try it too.

There are many other benefits to student leadership that I can’t talk about in a single blog post like teamwork, interpersonal skills, responsibility, organizational skills and communication. Bottom line is that I think every student needs experience in a meaningful leadership position where they have the resources ability to make the change they want to make. That’s just how I grow best as a student and become life-ready.

 

 

Student's View: First Week and First Impressions

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Student's View: First Week and First Impressions

By Tatiana Le, student intern, AASA, The School Superintendents Association   

AASA Internship As a rising sophomore at a liberal arts college pursuing an English B.A. and looking to teach after graduating, I embody the stereotype of the starving college snowflake destined to be paid less than my STEM counterparts for a job I find “fulfilling.”  

    As such, I rushed to apply for an internship with AASA, The School Superintendents Association, in hopes of receiving solid work experience related to my interests. AASA is the professional organization for more than 13,000 educational leaders in the United States and it serves its members in different capacities from informational newsletters to advocacy.  

    This week was my first week here at my first internship ever. My internship is twofold; I work with two supervisors, Jay Goldman, editor of the School Administrator, and Gayane Minasyan, director of online technologies, on a variety of tasks from reviewing manuscript to sending alerts through the AASA mobile app. This week has been a learning experience above all else as I slowly adapt to the new environment.  

    On the magazine side, I’ve learned a lot about the process a manuscript goes through, from the author’s discovery of the AASA author guidelines to the final publication. I had the opportunity to read rejected and accepted manuscripts and the feedback each manuscript received from the staff. A decision can take months and some manuscripts take years to get published because of factors like lack of an appropriate theme.   

    I also had the chance to sit in on a monthly magazine meeting with the designer to select photography and digital artwork for the August edition. So much goes into the production of a single magazine. The article lineup has to make sense before any of the designing can take place. Then there has to be balance between artwork and photos. Some photos aren’t bright enough, high quality enough or have too much empty space. Some artwork is too expensive, needs to be commissioned or doesn’t fit stylistically. It’s a long process full of troubleshooting.  

    The online technologies side is just as complicated. With over 14 websites to manage, two national newsletters and a sizable social media presence, there’s constantly information to find and share. My first glimpse of AASA’s social media usage came from Deanna Atkins, digital content manager. I have personal accounts with Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, but I never realized what it entails to write for 24,000 plus professionals and keep them engaged on a daily basis. There are so many leadership initiatives, program events, hashtags and people to know when sending a two-sentence tweet. As someone who’s relatively young and supposed to be good with social media, this week has been a reality check.  

    I also enjoyed sitting in on the webinar “How to Work Effectively with School Boards and Search Firms to Advance Your Career” with four women leaders, Carmella S. Franco, search consultant (Calif.), Allison Schafer, legal counsel and director of policy, School Boards Association (N.C.), Susan Enfield, superintendent, Highline Public Schools (Wash.) and Patricia E. Neudecker, AASA past president, director of administrative leadership, assistant professor, Alverno College (Wis.). I never knew that only 25% of superintendent applications in North Carolina were women despite the fact women comprise the overwhelming majority of educators. It was enlightening to hear stories of how women accept substandard compensation without looking at previous contracts and advocating for themselves in negotiations.  

    Overall, it’s been an educational week full of new people, technology and office experiences. It can be overwhelming at times considering how new everything is, but I’m looking forward to spending the next two months of summer here.

 

Ohio Superintendent Gives an A+ to AASA’s Digital Consortium Spring Meeting in St. Louis

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Ohio Superintendent Gives an A+ to AASA’s Digital Consortium Spring Meeting in St. Louis

By Superintendent Marlon Styles

marlon styles - dig consortiumThe AASA Digital Consortium gathered recently at Mehlville School District in St. Louis, Mo., to engage digital thought leaders from across the country. In my first blog ever, I hope you will find my reflections from the professional learning experience as an inspiration for the work you are leading in your districts.

One of the essential questions driving our discussion asked, “How can opportunities to innovate strengthen the local economy?” This group of 40 digital thought leaders explored just that during our time together.

The site visits to Mehlville High School, MOSAIC (Mehlville-Oakville Students Achieve, Imagine and Create) Elementary School, and the Cortex Innovation Community provided the perfect fusion of united efforts to impact not just the economy, but the dreams of people. Opportunities to bring passion to life were evident to everyone.

Mehlville School District, led by superintendent Chris Gaines, has students in all grades investing daily in “passion projects.” Two students at MOSAIC Elementary shared their passion project on the Pacific Ocean. Across the street at Mehlville High School, a group of four students were investigating a crime scene looking at forensics evidence and the psychological state of the suspects.

dig consortium spring 18-blog1It was clear that teachers are facilitators of learning, providing students the opportunity to own and discover their own learning. Almost every student expressed appreciation for opportunities to engage in passion projects. They were truly inspired to pursue their dreams as they credited passion projects as a positive influence in their school community. Students were often heard saying “I can choose from” or “I know that I can” as they responded to questions about their passions.

What if every student across the country could enthusiastically express their life dreams and how their school is giving them opportunities to make those dreams come true? This is happening at Mehlville School District every single day.

The Cortex Innovation Community is an open, flexible incubator for innovators from across the city. It serves as a 24/7 innovation think tank center, giving dreamers a place to accelerate innovation. Entrepreneurial spirits flock to the center to participate in conversations at the Venture Cafe. A sign at the entrance reads “Venture Cafe, St. Louis accelerates the innovation process through spaces, programs and conversations for individuals and organizations to gather and build relationships.” This innovative concept is significantly impacting the revitalization efforts in St. Louis.

Through the AASA Digital Consortium, I became engaged in developing accessible opportunities for students to invest in their passions and dreams. It will be vital to develop synergy among pedagogy, technology and learning spaces to allow these opportunities to inspire students. The Mehlville and MOSAIC students experienced complete ownership of choice in their learning.

This visit inspired me to continue reimagining education. It has challenged me to rethink how we give students access to learning opportunities to engage in their passion projects. I left the experience asking myself, “What would a blend of the Cortex Innovation Community and Mehlville High Schools’ passion projects look like in my district?”

dig consortium spring 18-blog2So, forget everything you know about how we educate students, walk up to a white board and reimagine education in a space such as the Cortex Innovation Community. I know I am immersed in that thinking as a result of my experience with the AASA Digital Consortium.

The conclusion of the professional learning was focused on two IGNITE presentations by Brian Troop (superintendent, Ephrata, Pa., Area School District) and Carol Kelley (superintendent, Oak Park, Ill., Elementary School District 97). Dr. Kelley’s IGNITE presentation was titled Equity4All, and it was inspirational. I close this post with a commitment to help provide all students opportunities to invest in their passions. The time is now to take on this transformative idea for all students. Are you ready to reimagine?

I want to thank Chris Gaines for hosting, Mike Lubelfeld (superintendent, Deerfield, Ill., Public Schools) and Nick Polyak (superintendent, Leyden High School District, Franklin, Ill.) for facilitating, and AASA for supporting the great work of the AASA Digital Consortium.  

I would encourage all AASA members to take the time to read about the various certification and consortia groups offered by AASA.

For more information about the AASA Digital Consortium, visit the AASA website.

Marlon Styles Jr. is the superintendent of Middletown City Schools in Middletown, Ohio.

Lead with Passion,Energy, Focus and Partnership

(Lead To Learn, Digital Consortium) Permanent link

by Michael Lubelfeld, superintendent, Deerfield Public Schools, Ill., and Nick Polyak, superintendent, Leyden High School District 212, Ill.

polyak digital consortium fall 17The purpose of the AASA Digital Consortium is to support school district administrators as they scale successful models in support of engaging, effective learning experiences using digital media in order to be the leading national voice for digital innovation in our nation’s public schools.

We have often written about the power and value of professional associations. We are grateful to the coaching, guidance, mentorship, feedback and opportunities that these associations afford leaders in the practice of education.

As co-directors of the AASA Digital Consortium we have the honor of gathering with 40-50 superintendents and educational leaders from around the nation in support of leading digital innovation in our nation’s schools. Since 2014, the consortium has visited exemplar school districts from coast to coast (Maryland, California, North Carolina, Illinois and Washington, and our next visit in April 2018 will be to Missouri).

Typically, we engage with a team of superintendents and school leaders for two days of intense leading, learning, fellowship and calls to action. Key to the influence and success of the Digital Consortium are friends like Horace Mann, Discovery Education, Google, Google Chicago, Education Reimagined, McGraw Hill, Fuel Education, Rethink Education and other leaders in the edtech space.

lubelfeld digital consortium fall17

We work through exercises and planning under the powerful frameworks for leadership and change like the one found in Education Reimagined. We have worked with thought leaders from around North America as we support one another on the journey toward change management and maximized impact of digital transformation.

During our visits, tweets are shared under the #AASA_DigitalConsortium. Our challenge and charge as a group of leaders is to continue to lead with passion, energy, focus and partnership. As critical friends, we affirm that which is good and best, and we constructively critique that which can be made better.

AASA will feature blog posts from the various leadership consortia as part of its ongoing outreach and support of leadership and education. In addition, through partnerships with the Center for Digital Education and Discovery Education, for example, a number of case studies and white papers have been written by or about Digital Consortium leaders.

Mike Lubelfeld is the superintendent of Deerfield Public Schools in Deerfield, Ill. Nick Polyak is the superintendent of Leyden High School District 212 in Franklin Park, Ill. Lubelfeld and Polyak serve as co-chairs of AASA’s Digital Consortium and co-moderate  #Suptchat, a monthly, hour-long conversation via Twitter that engages superintendents and other school system leaders worldwide about the most critical issues in education. The program occurs on the first Wednesday of every month, beginning at 8 p.m. (ET). 

AASA & Transformational Leadership – What is It About?

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AASA & Transformational Leadership – What is It About?

By: Dr. Dana T. Bedden

 

dana bedden headshotHave you ever been part of a group where someone provides a clear vision of the goals and make everyone feel enthusiastic and energized? Then you were in luck because you worked with a transformational leader.

Over the past few months, I have had the opportunity to facilitate workshops with colleagues on behalf of AASA related to transformational leadership. Within the two groups, the West Virginia New/Aspiring Superintendents Academy and AASA/Howard University Urban Superintendents Academy are current and future leaders engaged in critical thinking to improve not only their skills but the future of education for our students and problem solving to develop a stronger pipeline of new school leaders. One significant benefit for me serving as a facilitator is the exchange of knowledge - not only what I am able to share, but also what I receive from the community of professionals participating in the academies. As part of the learning process, I begin to reflect on my own leadership style and understanding of transformational leadership. Because of this experience, I decided to not only review the information we are using as part of the workshops, but also other sources of information to continue to grow my own leadership capacity. Education Reimagined provides a publication entitled, A Transformational Vision for Education in the U.S. As part of the introduction of who the organization is and what they believe, the following is stated:

"SIMPLY PUT, the current system was designed in a different era and structured for a different society. Our economy, society, and polity are increasingly at risk from an educational system that does not consistently prepare all children to succeed as adults and is least effective for the children facing the greatest social and economic challenges."

Transformational leadership is a type of leadership that inspires positive changes to those who follow. Transformational leaders are enthusiastic, passionate, and energetic. They are not just concerned about completing the task but also focused on helping all members of the group to become successful.

What is Transformational Leadership?

James MacGregor Burns is often credited with introducing the concept of transformational leadership. He was a presidential biographer and leadership expert. According to him, you can see transformational leadership at work when followers and leaders help each other to achieve higher levels of motivation and morale.

Transformational leaders can inspire their followers to change perceptions, motivations, and expectations to achieve common goals. They earn the respect, admiration, and trust from their followers.

Elements of Transformational Leadership

Let’s consider four elements of transitional leadership. These are intellectual stimulation, inspirational motivation, individualized consideration, and idealized influence.

Intellectual Stimulation – Transformational leaders encourage followers to be more creative and think outside the box. The leader allows followers to find innovative ways of doing tasks, and explore new avenues of learning.

Inspirational Motivation – Transformational leaders have a clear vision of how to achieve a goal, and can express it to their followers in an articulate manner. They try their best to help their followers get the same motivation and passion to achieve the goals of the group.

Individualized Consideration – Leaders provide personalized encouragement and support to individual members of the team. They will keep communication lines open so that team members can share ideas to them. In doing so, transformational leaders provide direct recognition of the individual contributions of each member.

Idealized Influence – Lastly, transformational leaders serve as the role model of their team members. Members will try to copy the example of their leader because they truly respect and trust the person.

Positive Effects of Transformational Leadership

Studies have shown that transformational leadership has a positive effect on the team. When led by a transformational leader, the group achieves higher levels of satisfaction and performance compared to one with another leadership type.

Transformational leaders believe in their members and know they can perform their best in any given task. In turn, members of the group feel empowered and inspired. To become a transformational leader, you need to be optimistic and have a strong vision of the future. You should believe in that vision, and inspire others to do the same.

Some of the traits of a transformational leader include but are not limited to being supportive, trustworthy, passionate, and genuine. These characteristics can motivate members of the team to support your goals because members know their leader has the best interests of the group in mind all the time.

Transformational leadership is an effective type of leadership. However, there are instances where it might not be the right choice. There are cases in which an autocratic or managerial style can provide better direction, especially if some of the followers require more supervision. What separates a great leader from a good one is that the former knows the type of leadership style required by certain situations.

References:

https://education-reimagined.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/A-Transformational-Vision-for-Education-in-the-US-2015-09.pdf

http://www.business2community.com/leadership/what-is-transformational-leadership-01640002#M2xrpyvAWkPms32v.97  

http://smallbusiness.chron.com/four-elements-transformational-leadership-10115.html 

https://www.verywell.com/what-is-transformational-leadership-2795313 

https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=MYrpj5XtbekC&pg=PA4&lpg=PA4&dq=%22Transformational+Leadership%22&source=bl&ots=tneKkfjveb&sig=EsygGMrPFXwfWm2Ik2SGwhLhNXA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjMseG4jeTWAhWMrI8KHTM0DpU4MhDoAQg7MAQ#v=onepage&q=%22Transformational%20Leadership%22&f=false

http://www.advanc-ed.org/source/transformational-leadership-matter-perspective