In his book Digital Leadership, Eric Sheninger talks about the importance of communicating the good news about your school or district to key stakeholders. He emphasizes the need for leaders in an organization to be great storytellers who can share a positive message about the school through social media and presentations. Sharing the school’s brand with a “sticky message” will make you stand out above the crowd and provide everyone with a clear understanding of what you value.

As I’ve worked with administrators on digital leadership strategies this year, I’ve enjoyed watching them embrace social media tools like Twitter and blogging to share the good news. George Couros reminded our team last summer that you need to get positive information out in as many ways as possible. If negative comments arise on a Twitter feed, they’ll be quickly forgotten as more good news is shared. 

The success of 1:1 and BYOD computing initiatives depends on the ability of leaders to gain stakeholder buy-in through messaging. Above all else, the leaders in an organization must be able to deliver an elevator speech that communicates a clear and consistent message. In addition to the elevator speech, a digital leader should be able to deliver presentations that will engage the community, school board, and other stakeholders.

Here are a few questions to think about as you prepare for new initiatives:
Do you have your elevator speech ready when someone on the school board asks you to describe the benefits of your program and why it should be funded?
How will you share the message about your new initiatives with parents and community members?
Do you have evidence of successes to share through social media and other presentations?

As you begin the hard work of preparing how to market your message to stakeholders, there are a variety of resources to help. Take advantage of the following resources to help you to develop more effective presentations and lay the groundwork for successful initiatives.

Weekend Language: Presenting with More Stories and Less PowerPoint by Andy Craig and Dave Yewman
The authors remind us that we’re a better version of ourselves when we’re telling a story instead of reading slides. You can bring your weekend language into work day presentations with five easy tips.

Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery by Garr Reynolds
Presentation Zen focuses on simplifying presentations so that they have more impact on your audience. If you use slide decks to present, this book will help you to improve the look and feel of your presentation with design techniques. 

Made to Stick by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
The Heath brothers give many great examples of companies that have used effective messaging to make their brand stick with consumers.

 TED Talks
TED Talks are a great way to see how others are communicating their message. Pick out a few talks on a topic of interest and take notes about the presenter’s presentation style.

Screenshot 2015-03-14 at 11.08.43 AM

Created by Wanda McClure Hopkins

In my last blog post, I discussed the transformative change needed for a school or district to move to a personalized learning model. In a transformed system, deep learning occurs when the focus shifts from students mastering required content to students creating and using new knowledge in the world. Learning is also accelerated when students have access to technology tools and other resources for communication and collaboration, critical thinking and problem solving and creativity.

Changing our learning environments to a personalized model is disruptive and our business-as-usual way of doing things will not move us forward. After spending a few days at Tech & Learning Live in Atlanta talking with leaders who have made big changes, I have new insight into how disruptive change can happen.

Start with visionary leadership
Nishant Mehta, Head of School at The Children’s School in Atlanta, asks everyone in his school to approach each day as if it were the first day of school. The excitement and expectation of the first day continues throughout the school year as teachers prepare students for their futures – not our past.  Students pursue their passions and share their learning with authentic audiences.

Remove silos
Wanda McClure Hopkins, Elementary Director at Amana Academy Charter School, believes in a flat leadership structure. This team approach has made it possible for her to remove silos that exist in traditional school settings. Teachers and other school leaders work together to develop solutions for engaging students in expeditionary learning. Allowing everyone to lead from where they are is vital to getting buy in for disruptive change.

Deconstruct and remix
Systems cannot successfully change with a “this is the way we’ve always done things” attitude. There may be great worth to the work that we’re doing, but we need to be able to deconstruct programs and think critically about each component. Some aspects of the school day like fixed schedules may need to be thrown out in order to move forward with personalized learning. Existing programs may also need to be remixed with new ideas in order to bring about meaningful change.

Get out of your comfort zone
When implementing change, it’s important to go into environments that may be out of your comfort zone. Making site visits to other schools that are implementing personalized learning with a variety of models will give your team a better picture of how personalized learning fits. Site visits will stretch team members and lead to rich conversation that will steer your next steps.

Focus on each learner
Each and every student that enters our schools is unique and deserves a unique learning experience that will develop their talents and skills. Dr. Yong Zaho suggests that we need to make sure that our students are “out of the basement” ready instead of test ready. We tend to measure success thorough standardized tests instead of focusing on skills that will allow students to get jobs when they leave us.

Just do it
Planning is important but don’t spend a year meeting with committees and just talking. Small implementations of your ideas will provide data and feedback that is important to how you move forward. Find the champions of change in your school and involve them in implementing potential solutions. Kate Matthews,  ‎Lead District Instructional Technology Specialist in Fayette County Public Schools and EduVue co-host, goes into schools and works with teachers to implement change with a “yes and” attitude.

Getting to transformative change will be the hardest but most meaningful work that you will ever do. Bring together the right team and you’ll have amazing results which will accelerate learning for all students.


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