Leading Through Example

I’ve always believed that we can each lead through the choices we make. And those in leadership positions, whether they like it or not, are viewed especially by the choices they make. This came to light yesterday during a conversation during the audit of our Google Apps for Education Audit (GAFE).

Drive

The audit told us a lot about how we use Google Apps in our division. We learned who the biggest Google Docs user is (ahem, it was me), and who used up the most storage (hmm, Peter!). But that was really just trivia. We saw interesting things when you looked at things a different way. As it turns out, and our consultants echoed this for us, when building administrators embrace the tool and use it, teachers tend to follow.

It takes bravery to try and adopt a new tool. At first, I myself had a hard time launching a browser instead of a Word or Pages icon in the dock. But I’ve now been living so much in the “Google ecosystem” with cloud-based doc creation, that it simply has become habit. I know if I’m going to share something with someone, I now start “in the cloud.” And the think is, I like it now. I’ve always been in love with desktop applications — but I’ve come to realize the trade-offs are worth it, when you have the power of collaboration as the biggest feature. Part of this has been shown to me working through my doctoral program with colleagues from Henrico. Just last night we edited over 50 pages together in a Google Hangout using Google Drive. At one point I had to sit back and take stock, I could see and hear my colleagues in real time, and we were all editing the same documents simultaneously.

Our teachers in grades 3-5 at GES this year will be adopting new tools and pedagogies. I’m their biggest fans right now, and think they’re going to accomplish great things with our iPad initiative. I know Google Apps will be one of the tools they’ll come to rely upon. They’ll be leading with the choice of tools they adopt with kids.

I’d like to remind my colleagues wide, near, and far, that the simple choices you make can have an effect on what happens in a classroom. Things as simple as the choices of tools we use can inspire a teacher to use the same ones. And the effect can be a profound difference when it comes to the impact on instruction. Writing in Word and writing collaboratively in a Google Doc aren’t the same thing. It takes courage to make the change I am optimistic we can do it together.