Get Ready for #ISTELF12!

Guest Post by George Couros

On October 21-23, I will be attending the ISTE Leadership Forum in Indianapolis, and am looking forward to moderating a panel on “Connecting. Leading. Learning.”, with some awesome people I have connected with over the last few years. ISTE recently asked me to answer a few questions pertinent to the upcoming forum. Here are my thoughts:

What are some of the biggest challenges facing superintendents, principals, CTOs, curriculum leaders, and tech coordinators today?

I think that there are a couple of issues.  With needs going up, but budgets either being decreased or kept the same, it is hard to provide the accessibility to students that they will need to be successful in our time and in their future.  With that being said, we have to really take a look at not only how we lead our schools, but also how the management of our resources ties in with the vision for our school.

The other issue that I see is that many organizations have no idea where to start as there are so many opportunities in the use of technology. This often overwhelms many people.  What we need to do as leaders is figure out “why” we do what we do, and then figure out the technology that will serve the learning needs of our community.  Simply buying a bunch of devices is not a good idea; we have to be thoughtful in how we not only implement our plans, but also develop people in our organizations to give them all of the opportunities for success.

So yes, there are issues, but with thoughtful leadership, we can definitely move forward in what we do to ensure that we do what is best for kids.

Why is it critical for administrators to take time out for their own professional learning and networking amid their busy schedules?

I am not sure that we have to look at it as “taking time out of our schedules”, but
I feel it is about rethinking the way we do our work, not necessarily adding something new.sometimes rethinking the way we do our work and what our priorities are.  I think that as a leader, taking the time to reflect on what I have done is key to what I will do in the future and how successful our organization will be.  This is something that I make time for during my week to ensure that it gets done.  We all take time for professional development and I see connecting through social media is something that I can do sporadically throughout my day while in my school, where as “traditional” professional development actually pulls me entirely out of my school as well.

What do you think differentiates this month’s ISTE Leadership Forum in Indianapolis from other educational conferences and professional development opportunities?

What I like most about this opportunity is that it’s being delivered (mostly) by education leaders, who are still affiliated directly with schools.  It is important that we connect with thought leaders in education as well as other areas of the world, but I want to hear from the people that are in the trenches, doing the work.  It gives a lot of credibility to what they are saying and I think that it shows that many of the
What are you personally most looking forward to experiencing at this year’s forum?innovative practices happening right now in schools are attainable. Seeing someone like Chris Lehmann speak who is doing the work gives me the opportunity to be inspired, but also believe that we can push forward for our students as well.

Connecting with people that I have met virtually.  That is the power of things like Twitter and Facebook; it gives us the opportunity to connect with real people at these conferences and get right into the deep conversations that will help us improve the work we do for our students.  The deeper the conversation, the better it is for all of us.  I am hoping that many from this conference take the opportunity to connect with others and keep connecting up after the conference.  One-shot professional development doesn’t work; we have to use social media to keep the conversation going.


George Couros is a division principal of innovative teaching and learning with Parkland School Division, located in Stony Plain, Alberta, Canada. He is a passionate learner, an ed tech advocate, and motivator.

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