Fisher’s (2009) work about leadership was a thought-provoking read that allowed me to be reflective of how I lead as well as how others lead me.
One of the clearest things that came out of the article was the need of a clear vision at all times. A leader needs to be able to effectively identify and communicate this to their followers. In order for engagement, the followers need to ‘buy-in’ to the vision and truly understand all aspects of it before they are effectively able to live and breathe it. This is so important for the success of an organization.
Another point that resonated with me was the need to motivate others. There are so many different ways of motivating people but in my opinion, empowering people to take lead in align with the vision and values of the organisation creates the most effective outcomes. This can be scary for a leader as they have to trust in the their followers and release some sense of control. This bottom-up approach allows those involved to gain a sense of self worth and contribution to the organisation.
The importance of managing alone will never be successful. In conjunction to managing, a leader needs to lead using both these skillsets intertwined to eliminate any disconnect. It was also noted of the consistency between these two needed.
I loved that note about leadership being personal. Recently I heard someone say that in leadership sometimes you just have to do something because it has to get done. For me, this is not personal at all. I think if you can’t justify why this is needing to be done and the true purpose and impact of what you are doing then perhaps this isn’t the best route. A leader needs to stay focused on what they are trying to achieve and have a deeper understanding of why they are doing it as it aligns to the vision.
Fisher, J. (2009). The Thoughtful Leader. Review Ontario Leadership Framework, Ontario Ministry of Education. (Dr. Fisher has kindly provided permission to use this resource). Click here to access
As educators, our goal is to improve student learning inside the classroom using the tools and resources available to use. Technology is enviably becoming more present in our daily lives and education system. However, Cox (2013, p. 85) argues that the effectiveness of using the devices for learning still requires more research.
Cox (2013, p.85) suggests that more research should be done to look at the differences between formal and informal uses of technology for learning and the difference between them. One of the resources becoming more and more popular is the use of technology in the formal setting of a classroom. What was once only accessible in higher education, has made its way down into primary school classes (Cox, p.88)
Due to the high rate of changing technology, research struggles to keep up with the rate of change. There are so many new technology tools and resources becoming available for teachers and students every year that there is no way to properly conduct research on the effectiveness for everyone.
In addition to the change of technology tools, the role of teachers and learners continues to evolve. Through 21st century learning, teachers are transitioning more towards the role of a facilitator as students are able to construct their own learning more readily with access to the internet through their devices. Teaching has changed from a directed model towards a constructivist approach with technology supporting this movement (Roblyer & Doering, p. 46).
As technology continues to evolve, so does the research to determine if integrating technology actually enhances the educational experience. Cox (2012) argues this point by stating that it is difficult to know if the technology improves learning. There is no doubt that technology enhances student engagement by using tools that students use in their informal settings but does it actually show significant improvement in the learning.
With the rise of mobile devices and social media, technology can be taken with you anywhere with learning able to happen anytime. This has changed the way the classroom looks and this transformation requires more research to better understand it and how to most effectively use technology to enhance learning. Teachers are no longer teacher technology as a stand-alone tool but rather a tool that is used in a way to support and enhance the student learning (Voogt, Knezek, Coz, Knezek, & ten Brummelhuis, 2013, p. 5)
In addition, the training of teachers should be looked at to ensure how we teach teachers to integrate technology is the most effective method for student growth.
As technology continues to advance, researchers and educators should continue to ask ourselves 'What does this mean for our education system? What does this mean for learning? What does this mean for student growth?' As we keep the student learning at the core of our thoughts as we navigate the newest realms of technology, there is much research still to be done.
Cox, M.J. (2013), Formal to informal learning with IT: research challenges and issues for e-learning. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 29: 85–105. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2729.2012.00483.x
Roblyer, M. D., & Doering, A. H. (2014). Integrating educational technology into teaching [Sixth Edition].
Voogt, J., Knezek, G., Cox, M., Knezek, D. and ten Brummelhuis, A. (2013), Under which conditions does ICT have a positive effect on teaching and learning? A Call to Action. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 29: 4–14. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2729.2011.00453.x
Leadership & Gender
As a female in international education, I look to the hierarchy of my own school and other schools in my area. Time and time again I see a few females in the roles of senior leadership. In my school, we have 1 female out of 5 senior leadership members. It is very unbalanced. If you move a few steps down the hierarchy to middle leadership (year group coordinators, subject coordinators, etc), you will find an even number of males and females in leadership positions if not more females slightly. While this middle management tilt may be due to generally more females in the education field, there seems to be a glass ceiling effect that makes it challenging for females to move beyond to senior leadership.
As an Education Technology Coach, I also very few females represented in these roles. Primarily technology roles are dominated by males. I am the first female ever in the technology role in my school and work with 3 other males.
While I firmly believe the best person for the job should get a position, schools should be cognizant of what messages are perceived by others when looking at leadership teams. What does it say to your students when no females are in technology leadership positions? What does it say to parents and staff when all senior leadership consists of males? How does having different genders on a leadership team impact the perspectives brought to the table of discussions?