As 2014 draws to a close and the holidays are in full swing, it seems appropriate to stop and recognize 12 "individuals" who are changing education. These people are making a difference in their own schools as well as the school buildings of others. In the spirit of the season, I am going to filter this around a theme of 12 days, but for the sake of time and efficiency I am going to simply name the 12 in one post (it may be cheating but I am going with it).
Tom is on a mission; a mission to connect all schools and use connectivity to empower learners at all levels. There are a good number of people on this mission, but there are few individuals with the tenacity to lead this movement to fruition. Tom now works in the policy realm and is leading the charge to create Future Ready Schools and increase connection opportunities. He has also played a large role in helping redefine professional learning in my own school. His work in the Quakertown School District helped to shape the direction we have taken professional learning in our building by empowering teachers to direct, collaborate on, and reflect upon individualized professional learning.
I (like many others) could thank Jimmy Casas for increasing my professional connectivity exponentially. In 2012 I met Jimmy at the NASSP Ignite Conference and he immediately introduced me to individuals who have had a vast impact on my own professional learning. Jimmy is also one of the strongest advocates for student voice you will ever meet. His RSVP program at Bettendorf HS inspired our own RSVP program at LHS and is a model for providing students a meaningful and impactful voice in schools.
I met Dwight this past year at Ignite in Dallas. He is a model for servant leadership in schools and has been a great friend in helping me to wade through some of the murky professional waters that come with building leadership. He is also a model for stepping outside your comfort zone and finding a new challenge. This past year he left a school he had led faithfully to take on a new challenge in school leadership. He was open with his community as to why he was making the move and can say in all sincerity that Gahanna-Lincoln is better because he served it as a leader.
Jenna is my Maryland edu-sister. She is a rockstar teacher and a fearless advocate for technology as a tool to empower her students. If there is a person who comes to mind when we discuss meaningful technology integration for learning and tireless advocacy it is Jenna.
The #SatChat Team (Billy, Brad, and Scott)
There are a LOT of Twitter chats for educators, but few have the impact of #SatChat. From its humble beginnings the chat has grown to coastal, international, and live versions. If you attend a conference in the Northeast that touts connectivity (and means it) you can bet a live #SatChat is probably happening. The conversations stemming from this chat are connecting educators globally and changing professional practice for the better.
I am going to refer to Tom as the Godfather of Edu-Blogging. Tom is not afraid to challenge the status quo or the popular trend when he doesn't see a benefit for students. His work blogging has produced numerous other edu-bloggers and his work with #EdChat is where the foundation for Twitter professional learning finds its roots. He is also a great person to engage in conversation (just be prepared to walk away thinking differently).
Joe is a model connected educator. His connectivity has led to colleges seeing connectivity as a meaningful and necessary professional practice rather than an unfortunate evil of the digital age. Today he is building the next generation of digital leaders and educators through UPenn and continues to be an advocate for increasing parent voice in our schools.
Eric is the quintessential rockstar. His story of initially rejecting technology to building a learning model where it is a cornerstone summarizes the journey of many connected educators. Eric's book is the foundational work for digital leadership and he has shepherding countless educators on their connected journey. I am fortunate to have Eric in my PLN and more so as someone who I know will give me an honest take when I need one.
George has used technology to not only empower students but also to connect leaders globally through the School Admin Virtual Mentors Program (#SAVMP). He is a dynamic speaker who has encouraged countless educators to connect and tell their own story.
If you need to find a guy with passion for professional learning Barry is your guy. He is constantly working on growing professionally and is helping to develop others through his work with ASCD and ETEC. Spend just a few minutes with Barry and you will see his authenticity in becoming a better professional not for himself but for his students.
Professional Organizations that Get It
I know...not an individual. If you ask the federal government corporations are people so in my world, professional organizations count here. There are numerous professional organizations but there are few that "get" connectivity. ASCD has done a remarkable job this year in building connectivity with its members and leveraging this to empower professional growth. They are continuing to build upon this avenue through Edge and Twitter chats. NASSP gets my vote for an organization that got connectivity from the beginning. From recognizing connected leaders to building a conference off the connected model, NASSP has done incredible work in promoting connected and collective professional learning.
Todd is the most passionate educator I have ever met. He is an individual who in his classroom understood the importance of connecting classrooms and students and as a principal continues to connect his school. As an administrator I admire that Todd, even in his new role, is still in classrooms teaching students on a regular basis and serves as a relentless champion for his staff and students.
So...there it is. I could go on about even more folks but 12 is a definate number! These people are changing education but so are countless others. If you are changing education for the better keep doing the good work. If you are reluctant to jump in that is OK. Look to these folks or others for inspiration. In the end it comes back to my closing statement for every #APChat and #MDEdChat: Be better every day in every way; out students deserve it.