Leading in a culture of connection, connecting and connectivity


To reach a port, we must set sail. Sail, not tie at anchor. Sail, not drift.

– Franklin Delano Roosevelt

As a connected educator and as a public school
superintendent my mission is to engage, inspire, and empower leaders, staff, students, parents, and the community in support of student learning. In order to recharge my batteries and to sharpen my saw I engage in professional learning activities and professional coaching opportunities. My work is both inside the organization and inside professional organizations. Through
connected learning and connected leading I am able to accomplish a great deal. Thanks to amazing leaders, colleagues, staff, students, Board members, and community, I’m able to enjoy a great deal of change and growth.

In our district we strive to balance change with the systems’ capacity for change and we also work to identify the focus areas that support effective culture and leadership throughout the organization. Our main focus areas are in the training (professional learning), technologies, relationship building, culture building and leadership.

Through Twitter professional learning and chats, through leadership at the state and national levels, through reading, on the job experience and through reflection, my aim is to be a superintendent who leads in a culture of connectivity. Briefly this can describe a superintendent who:

· Organizes the entire community around specific and focused
goal areas

· Builds relationships constantly

· Seeks feedback, shares feedback and incorporates feedback
into actions

· Communicates by listening first, processing, and

· Stays focused on the big picture, medium picture, and

· Respects the Board of Education and connects with the
Board professionally

· Learns about the formal structures and the informal
structures and moves all forward

· Reaches beyond the “walls” of the school District and
community to learn, grow, & share

· Responds to all inquiries in a timely and respectful

· Is connected to the modern day technology as an
accelerator for teaching, learning, and leading

· Measures culture and reports on culture and deliberately
works to improve organizational culture

· Keeps students, staff, and community at the forefront of
all decision making

· Communicates over and over and over again – clear
messages, brands, modes of communication

In support of my journey to lead in a culture of connectivity I have been fortunate for guidance, coaching, mentorship and
professional learning opportunities. From January 2012-March 2014 I have embarked on an educational and personal and professional journey with other leaders around the state through the Illinois Association of School Administrators (IASA) School for Advanced Leadership. The mission of ISAL II was “To provide IASA members the experiences that build exemplary leadership, knowledge and skill sets essential for ensuring successful student learning at the local level.”

ISAL II was a challenging two-year cohort training journey that focused on a superintendent’s role through five leadership lenses: •Facilitator of shared moral purpose; • Change agent; • Relationship/culture promoter; • Capacity builder; and • oherence maker

From the inspiration and engagement of becoming an ISAL Fellow, I sought out and was accepted into a national leadership program from the American Association of School Administrators (AASA), and since July 2014 I have been learning and honing leadership skills from the able guidance, inspiration, and stewardship of the National Superintendent Certification Program. I’m excited to continue the leadership journey with support and guidance from expert coaches and leaders around the state, region, and nation. All of this work, scholarship, practice, reflection and growth ties to our District mission of Engage, Inspire, mpower! It’s all done in support of service, education, growth, excellence.

As I’ve shared before on the blog, I co-moderate a Twitter chat for superintendents around the nation and world with my friend and colleague Dr. Nick Polyak. In closing, for this post, I’m sharing some suggestions/questions/reflection points in the spirit of #SuptChat.

Leading in a culture of connectivity means getting involved in the profession, like #suptchat on Twitter …

S – Stop …now that you have read this blog post, stop and reflect on the main ideas and how have you or will you implement one or more of the suggestions:

Seek input from stakeholders – if you have done this – have you shared the data and taken action as a result? If not, will you make an action plan to seek input and co-plan the next professional development activity in your District?

U- Understand how your personal values and professional philosophy guides all of your actions and successes – have you told your story or shared your fundamental values lately? If not – please do – start with your Board at the next meeting. What is your leadership philosophy regarding professional development? Define it – write it – share it.

P – Plan for how next week you will start the process of connecting with stakeholders and leaders with respect to connected professional development. Plan a meeting with your union or faculty leadership and engage in two way conversations about professional development in your District. Take input and plan with them.

T – Think of three take-aways from this blog post you will present at your next leadership team meeting, write them down.

Chat: Pick an edchat, like #suptchat or a state edchat and participate for an hour – if you do this regularly, make a point to respond to questions; if you have not yet done this – now is the time to experience a digital form of professional development.

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