Jumping into last night’s ETMOOC session “Introduction to becoming a Networked Administrator” (item T1S6) was fascinating. I have often joked, “Being an administrator is a job that involves everything I hate about education and nothing I like.” Yet, after listening to George Couros‘ presentation, he has me reconsidering that notion slightly. While I still doubt I have much interest in becoming an administrator, Couros got me much more interested in administration. More than anything, I can say without question George Couros is definitely the kind of administrator I would want to work for as a teacher.
For one, the fact that Couros is a principal and blogs regularly, already puts him in elite company. For an administrator to commit to writing their evolving thinking and beliefs in such a public and transparent way is striking in its courage. In an almost subversive way, by making his thinking public Principal Couros is reaching out to others, demonstrating his capacity to connect, building relationships, and inviting others to join him. By definition, that behavior is a kind of leadership.
What’s more, I would bet that his blogging ameliorates a lot of suspicion, ignorance, and fear that can take root in any school’s staff. Of course, those qualities might never be able to eradicate completely from a teaching staff, but it strikes me as being a significant step in an opposite more positive, pro-active direction. Again, the behavior is a means of leadership, blazing a path towards the kind of practitioners that he would like to see in his school.
Something like a post referenced in the session, “8 Things to Look for in Today’s Classroom,” goes a long way in directing his staff, as well as echoing a declaration of belief and values that he brings to his school and district. That is powerful communication. As a teacher, I know I would appreciate an administrator writing something like this as a blogpost, which is considerably more personal and human, and not some district-level document filled with educational Engfish (Ken Macrorie‘s term for something that looks like English but isn’t).
Another post like “5 Characteristics of a Change Agent,” also referenced in the session clearly illustrates the kind of people Couros is hoping work in his building. Even better, he is walking the walk, not just talking the talk. His blogging is a clear indicator of that. As I routinely tell my English students, “You can’t write about what you don’t know.” Of course, Couros doesn’t know it all, and in some instances may even be writing his way into a deeper understanding. The point is, however, he is doing just that, engaged in a deepening of his own learning and understanding. Again, a principal blogging in this way is an educational leader. He doesn’t need to inform his staff of his position, as I have heard more than one principal assert in my career, his example speaks for itself.
The whole session was just another excellent even that has been part of the ETMOOC experience. More than anything, it drove to further my thinking about just how much I think administrative “leadership” in education, at least in the States, is subject to question. In fact, I would submit it is a group getting an almost complete pass in the edreform donnybrook that has broken out all over the media. As the press and politically connected, monied interests take turns pounding on teachers unions and teachers in general, I rarely see any notice being paid to administrations with the exception of the much vaunted “turn-around” agents. Meanwhile, I observe administrations turning over at a rate that rivals that of teachers leaving the profession.
Something tells me that a principal like George Couros is more committed for the long term. My biggest fear if he were my principal is that he would be a victim of his own success and called higher and higher up the administrative ladder, although that wouldn’t be all bad.
I need some more time to stew on Cormier’s Rhizomatic Learning session.