“The Digital Era of Instructional Innovation” has begun and we must find a way to embrace the potential of virtual, blended, and digital learning. Students today learn differently than students did many years ago and students today are far more adept with technology as it is embedded and integrated into so many parts of their everyday lives. This fundamental shift in how we facilitate instruction and take accountability for results is a strategic mindset. Principals, who should be the instructional leaders of the school, should embrace this mindset and model the way for the rest of the staff. Whether you are a district office administrator, building level administrator, or teacher, the time is now to boldly move schools forward in the digital age. We are in the middle of the storm of instructional innovation and this is a fun process in reinventing teaching and learning through virtual and blended learning, technology integration, and being connected educators. This requires us to be courageous in being willing to embrace change and also requires serenity in focusing on the factors within our locus of control.
Sheninger says digital leadership and learning “takes into account recent changes such as ubiquitous connectivity, open-source technology, mobile devices, and personalization to dramatically shift how schools have been run and structured for over a century. Leading in education becomes exponentially powerful when using technology to your advantage.” Eric Sheninger, aka"Principal Twitter” shared his Pillars of Digital Leadership for principals that includes the following:
· Transform school culture by initiating sustainable change
· Use free social media tools to improve communication, enhance public relations, and create a positive brand presence
· Integrate digital tools into the classroom to increase student engagement and achievement
· Facilitate professional learning and access new opportunities and resources
One the great things about this shift we are currently experiencing is that we determine how successful we are and determine our learning outcomes. We know this isn’t going to be perfect on Day #1, but a school should be a learning organization that continuously grows and improves.
Moving into the digital age of instructional innovation is scary to many teachers and principals. While we know technology will never replace a great teacher, technology in the hands of great teachers can be transformational and almost magical in engaging students regardless of location. One of the things we reminded everyone of plenty is patience and support. Teachers don’t fear change, but everyone fears change without support. It’s important that administration supports teachers, teachers support each other, and we all support parents and students. We can’t lose focus of the task at hand and make excuses because failure is not an option, students and parents are counting on us to keep students safe and provide the best possible learning outcomes. As we focus on what we control, we realize that we have the power to win in keeping students safe in school and transforming teaching and learning. Principals, as the instructional leader of the school, lead this shift of curriculum with instructional technology integration.