The summer months have started. It is always a transition time for all of us. A time to reflect, a time to process, a time to recharge, and a time to get ready to start another year. When you have kids, even when you aren't in the education sector, you tend to operate around your kid's schedule. In one week we will fly to San Diego for some vacation, but mainly to watch Bailey, my youngest daughter, play volleyball. It will be filled with hiking in the mornings, chilling on the beach, and well, volleyball. This month is also a month of transition. Mr. Evans, who has spent the last five years here in Omaha Public Schools transforming the district, will be retiring. Dr. Logan is transitioning here to Omaha, moving from the Philidelphia/Maryland region. This transition feels so much better than the turmoil that resulted in three candidates backing out of the Superintendent's position one year ago.
Dr. Logan suggested a couple of books for Executive Council to read for our professional development. If you read my blog posts, you know I love to read, #1ChapterADay usually. Primal Leadership has been the first on the list. If I had to summarize the book, I would say it is a deep dive into the importance of emotional intelligence in leadership. It breaks emotional intelligence down into four domains: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. What I enjoyed about the book was it introduced some great examples and breaks the content down into bite-sized portions, what I call "brain food." Below are my bite sized reflections of each chapter broken down into a graphic or what I call a "quoture."
Where does this fit me personally?
If I had to place where my strengths fit into the leadership repertoire, in chapter four, I would select visionary and an equal mixture of democratic and affiliative. Just take a look at my Gallup Strengthsfinder:
The combinations of futuristic and strategic lend themselves to the visionary type of leadership. Throw in woo, and you begin to see the linking of an affiliative kind of leadership. I think if you mix strategic and woo you would see democratic, but if you look at my entire ten strengthsfinder strengths, relationship strength is not one of them.
In closing, this was a great read. As the chapters continued, the content drove deeper into meaning and connections within yourself and how you approach and engage with others. Chapter one of this book delivers it best:
Since we started with our planned obsolescence strategy a couple of years ago in Omaha Public Schools, we have been looking for ways to provide digital equity and access. This was outlined in our strategic plan and resonates across our learning environment now and in the future. Over the past couple of years, through budget cuts, we have tried to find alternative ways to assist in our device deployments. This past year, we came close to deploying 18,000 devices to students across our secondary schools. Through that process, we stumbled upon the Verizon Innovative Learning Initiative, through Digital Promise. This initiative provides devices and internet access through Verizon's LTE data network that targets the digital equity and access pieces by delivering access anywhere, anytime.
The VILs Initiative is unique in that it supplies professional development, planning assistance, as well as resources and funding to provide an instructional technology trainer coupled with an iPad 1:1 for students and staff. In our first planning year, I can see that it is the most intentional, comprehensive initiative I have ever been a part of with a corporate grant/partnership.
Both Norris Middle School and Marrs Magnet Middle School were selected to cohort 5 of the VILs Initiative. Through these cohorts, you have a community of veteran schools and new schools chosen from across the nation that contributes to the success rate of these implementations. Below is a photo of our implementation meeting held in Dallas with Digital Promise and the cohort schools.
Throughout this initiative, I have thought what the student experience would be. In discussion with the school leadership, we thought it would be great to experience a week through the lens of the student experience. This past week we started with a challenge to utilize the iPad as our primary device. Each day we would reflect using Flipgrid to document the journey. Below is the flipgrid with the video reflections.
Our iPad Challenge
I think I learned through that journey that as leaders to bring some empathy and understanding to the student experience, we sometimes need to experience the same environment. It is great to model and provide solutions and ideas so that staff and students feel supported. This week was challenging but an inspiring experience at the same time. I know we will have some fantastic nuggets of excellence coming from both Norris and Marrs as they learn from great practitioners and deliver devices for high technology learners.
These posts are personal. They are not reflective of the Omaha Public Schools District.