Blending Leadership

Blending Leadership
Stephen Valentine

Stephen Valentine, Director of Academic Leadership at Montclair Kimberley Academy, provides all school leaders with a unique approach to using technology for more effective learning and leadership as explored in his book Blending Leadership. As the online aspects of schools increase, leaders must be as effective screen-to-screen as they are face-to-face. Drawing from research, experience, and real-world examples, Valentine explores and unpacks six core beliefs necessary for the modern school leader to succeed.

Thought Leadership is a Verb: How to Lead by Learning From Others and Sharing What You Learn
Monday, July 17 – 9:30 am

In this session, leaders will investigate the importance of thought leadership in their work. Participants will focus on two distinct strands. First, they will explore ways to find thought leaders to whom they should pay attention, how to interact with such thought leaders, and how such engagement can advance their leadership practice.  Second, they will experiment with ways in which they, themselves, can demonstrate thought leadership in order to gain influence.  This latter strand will offer hands-on, practical strategies to help participants begin building an audience around areas of expertise.  Throughout the session, we will dig into multiple technological platforms as well as the interdisciplinary ideas of Austin Kleon, Seth Godin, and Shane Snow.

Designing Spaces: How to Amplify Authenticity and Joy for Those Who Spend Their Lives in Schools
Monday, July 17 – 11 am

In this session, school leaders will explore the ways in which they can amplify educational experiences by tending to the online and offline spaces where school constituents gather, exchange ideas, and construct knowledge.  After learning about a few broad principles related to effective design, participants will share good and bad design experiences and offer solutions.  Throughout the session, we will pay particular attention to the ways in which online spaces are becoming central to the educational experience even at the kinds of brick and mortar schools in which most of us still work.  By making such space a priority for Professional Development and even staffing, school leaders can remove frustration from the learning process.

Share, Share Again, Share Better: What Can Happen for Educators When Sharing Becomes a Habit
Monday, July 17 – 1:30 pm

In this session, participants will explore the why and how of professional sharing.  Often, independent schools fail to share well because of time constraints, perceived competition, or the lack of a storytelling vocabulary. Counterintuitively, it is possible to save time, bypass competition, and learn to tell stories by opening your practice, as well as your school’s innovations, to others.  We will dissect several case studies in order to surface the true value of sharing, investigate options for sharing both internally and externally, and consider platforms for sharing regularly.  This session will include an exercise in which we practice sharing a highlight from the conference itself in order to generate an immediate object lesson.

Meetings as Unusual: Designing Meetings That Save People’s Time and Serve Their Talents
Tuesday, July 18 – 9 am

This hands-on session is not a panacea for the meeting problem all educators face, but it will introduce different models for holding school meetings.  We will consider the pros and cons of synchronous and asynchronous gatherings, and the various technologies that support each mode, so as to answer a series of important leadership questions: When you call people together for a meeting, how do you make the most of their talents and perspectives?  Is your typical meeting mode generating innovative and fresh results or results that, themselves, are merely typical.  And perhaps most important, what would it take for you to build a new school meeting culture that fully leverages a range of different communications technologies?  During the session, we will attempt to meet in a variety of modes so as to experience the affordances and limitations of each.

If a Mission Falls in the Woods: How to Ensure That Your School Mission Rings Loudly and Truly
Tuesday, July 18 – 10:30  am

In an age where many people learn about our schools, and engage with them, through digital means, the amplification of school mission is a critical component of the execution of that mission.  In this session, we will explore ways to ensure that your online and offline decisions and moves align to your organization’s mission.  We will also create maps of our respective institutions to begin to understand where we are effectively communicating our missions, where we may be crossing our lines and creating static, where we are needlessly redundant, and where we are just plain silent.  Best practices from the field of content marketing will be threaded throughout the presentation and activities.

We Are All Screenagers: Balance, Human Interaction, and Why Manners Matter More Than Ever
Tuesday, July 18 – 1 pm

If you’ve ever walked into a meeting and found a bunch of people buried in their screens instead of talking with one another, then you may be part of a team that is in danger of losing its balance. If you’ve ever saved time due to a technological efficiency and simply filled it with more tech time, then you, too, may be in danger of losing your balance.  On the contrary, if you’ve ever been greeted rudely over email — or greeted someone rudely over email — then you know that attention needs to be paid to the human dimension of communication, especially when the venue itself mutes non verbal cues.  In school’s especially, humans should take priority over technology, and the very technologies that connect us can sometimes get in the way of our relationships with one another.  In this session, participants will investigate ways in which our habits have been co-opted by the very technologies that are supposed to serve us.  We will then discuss strategies to return to proper balance between technology and human interaction, and the ways that deliberate choices between online and the offline leadership moves can unlock new opportunities for learning, engagement, and connection.