Conversations with a Principal

I had the opportunity recently to chat with Chris Moore, principal at Indian Creek Rd. Public School in the Lambton Kent District School Board in Chatham. Chris also moderates the Ontario Principal Council’s Twitter chat, #opcchat. I had spoken at Chris’ school a few weeks prior on the benefits of social media as they apply to student’s lives and was curious as to the openness and comfort level with technology that he and others at the school demonstrated.

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Principal Moore and myself

~ Chris used his iPhone for one week to become completely mobile within the walls and schoolyard of his school ~

What emerged from our conversation, above all else, was not only Chris’ absolute buy-in and adoption of technology but how to take what is available today regarding social apps, platforms and various messaging systems, and introduce, support and model their use to his school community. Suffice to say that students love it. And staff, while some were reticent about jumping in, began to see the benefits of efficiency, culture shifts and other upsides on a daily basis. In fact, on Chris’ Twitter profile he describes his school as student-centred. And it is.

The aha moment for me was when Chris used his iPhone for one week to become completely mobile within the walls and schoolyard of his school. The experiment, he said, was to see if he could perform basic admin tasks, emails and other follow-ups exclusively from his device while the focus of his day, and his in-the-moment attention was instead diverted to students and his team.

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The only time he addressed his laptop was to format and send Board-required documents in Microsoft Excel. Other than that, he was boots-on-the-ground in classrooms, the gym, and outside enjoying the invaluable moments of his school community. He gained a stronger appreciation of the nuance of how relationships develop and roll with each student and staff member.

To hear him describe his week, completely untethered but well connected (staff texted him if they needed him) on levels that mattered most – the enrichment of human relationships and the ability to practice empathy and acknowledgement in real-time, was incredible. He was totally present with each individual for every conversation and moment. The clarity he achieved on what actually occurs moment-by-moment was unlike anything he’d experienced, many of which were invaluable for Chris to take back and build upon an already exciting culture of openness and the adoption of technology for learning, and community and relationship-building.

~ Fear-based teaching serves only to disable, paralyze and cultivate more fear ~

His takeaway was that technology is here, and it’s a natural part of the world. We both agreed that teaching tech, social media skills and the “why” of developing proficiency online instills within our kids, parents and team members confidence, hope and the willingness to try new things, absent of fear. Fear-based teaching serves only to disable, paralyze and cultivate more fear. Skills-based teaching, on the other hand, inspires confidence that leads to increased awareness, which in turn builds safety skills and rational discernment.

Kudos, principal Moore! And carry on!

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