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Randy Ziegenfuss, Ed.D. (@ziegeran)

Randy Ziegenfuss, Ed.D. (@ziegeran)

Randy currently serves as Superintendent in the Salisbury Township School District in Pennsylvania. Prior to his current position, Randy was a classroom teacher, Department Chair, Technology Integration Specialist, Director of Technology and Assistant Superintendent. Randy is also Clinical Adjunct Professor of Education at Moravian College, teaching courses in inquiry, assessment and technology in the undergraduate, graduate and principal certification programs. He graduated from Moravian College with a B.Mus. degree, earned his M.A. from Teachers College, Columbia University in technology leadership, and an Ed.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in educational and organizational leadership. In 2014, the Pennsylvania School Librarians Association (PSLA) recognized Randy as the Outstanding District Administrator for the state of Pennsylvania. In 2015, Randy was recognized by the Pennsylvania Association for Educational Communications and Technology (PAECT) as the Outstanding Leader of the Year. Follow Randy on Twitter @ziegeran, read his blog WorkingAtTheEdge.org and listen to the podcast co-hosted with @lfuinihetten at TLTalkRadio.org.

Posted by on in Education Leadership

journey

Leadership

Arguably, the most significant role of an educational leader is communicating a compelling vision for learning in the classroom and throughout the organization - school or district. I keep coming back to this quote from the recent book, Illuminate, by Duarte & Sanchez whenever I think of the influence a leader has over the vision that fuels the transformation journey,

Leaders anticipate the future. They stand at the edge of the known world, patrolling the boarder between “now” and “next” to spot trends. They help others see the future, too, guiding people through the unexpected and inspiring them to long for a better reality. (pg. 9)

But leaders can't (and shouldn't want to) work in isolation. A vision thrust upon an organization will not go very far. As with learner voice and choice in the classroom, we leaders must support the voice and choice of everyone in the visioning process.

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Posted by on in Education Leadership

TechnologyLearning

In recent posts I've written about the importance of vision and the need for leaders to anchor conversations around technology use in that vision. After the most recent post, Gary Stager shared an article he wrote titled Outside the Skinner Box: Can Education Technology Make a Course Correction?

The article is a "must read" and rich in ideas and classroom vignettes. What struck me most were the parts related to vision, leadership and professional development. These excerpts helped strengthened my thinking and prompted me to develop a series of How might... questions I will use in my practice. The questions are easily transferred to any leadership context, so I hope others will use and modify them - maybe even share out some new ones. Below are the questions paired with each excerpt from Stager's article.

How might learning with technology look different if we asked principals and teachers to think about who is granted agency by the hardware and software in our classrooms/systems? What would we learn? How might we lead when learner agency is least impacted?

In schools, all hardware and software bestow agency on one of three parties: the system, the teacher, or the learner. Typically, two of these actors lose their power as the technology benefits the third. Ask a group of colleagues to create a three-column table and brainstorm the hardware or software in your school and who is granted agency by each. Management software, school-wide grade-book programs, integrated learning systems, school-to-home communication packages, massive open online courses (MOOCs), and other cost-cutting technologies grant maximum benefit to the system. Interactive whiteboards, worksheet generators, projectors, whole-class simulations, plagiarism software, and so on, benefit the teacher. Personal laptops, programming languages, creativity software, cameras, MIDI keyboards, microcontrollers, fabrication equipment, and personal web space primarily benefit (bestow agency to) the learner.

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Posted by on in Education Leadership

ed tech

In a previous blog post, I suggested educators, particularly leaders, ask this question about technology use:

How does the technology advance us toward our vision for learning?

Keeping in mind that learner agency is a big part of that vision, I've been intrigued by a quote from Gary Stager:

Technology is not neutral. It bestows agency on the system, the teacher or the learner.

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Posted by on in Education Leadership

Vision 742x285

As leaders, we are focused on changing and improving learning in the classroom, but do we know where we are going? Do we have a clear picture of where we want our actions to take us? If asked to share our beliefs about learning, what would we say? How are those beliefs shaped by access to technology and our ability to truly honor the needs and passions of individual learners in the learning process?  As leaders, do we anchor our conversations about change in beliefs about learning? Do we lead our teachers, parents, students and communities to understand how investments in human, financial and material resources move us closer to our vision of the ideal learning environment?

Over the past school year, work in the Salisbury Township School District has focused on clearly defining outcomes for our graduates and the learning environments to support those outcomes. Through conversations with all representative groups of 

stakeholders, a Profile of a Graduate (the end-in-mind - knowledge & literacies, skills and dispositions) was developed, and a core set of beliefs about learning and the learning environment were articulated. In essence, the products provide a vision for the future. (We are currently in the process of designing user-friendly visual representations of each document. A future post will explore the process followed to get to these two products and the next stages in our work.)

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Posted by on in Inquiry-Based Learning

WHAT WHY HOW

I read a post the other day from Ross Cooper titled Inquiry is king. Here's why...  In any progressive vision for learning where students exercise agency, inquiry is a non-negotiable, and this needs to be the direction where we are headed for our schools and classrooms. I do wonder, though, how we as educators are practicing and modeling inquiry. Is inquiry a critical part of the professional learning cultures within our schools and districts? We have to be masters of the inquiry process if it is to become the norm in our classrooms. From my experiences, there is one thing we can do as educators that will fuel our shift to inquiry in the classroom:

Educators must become skilled at problematizing their practice. Change begins with a good question about practice.

When we problematize our practice, we engage in real-world problem solving. we hone our personal skills of inquiry and we model the struggles, challenges and rewards of inquiry for each other and our students.

Teaching Inquiry to Educators

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