“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” – John Quincy Adams
When reflecting upon Chris Toy's article, it became so clear that it is truly a courageous venture to embark on a one-to-one initiative. The legacy of public education has both positively and negatively influenced our leadership in education. Ironically, it is education itself that frees us as adults from the educational experiences of the past and enlightens us as to the possibilities that exist for a transformed public education system of the future. We envision a new system as one which will allow all students to reach their potential armed with 21st Century skills and 21st Century tools. The exemplar we have in this article, a school in the Maine Learning and Teaching Initiative, provide one data point, or perhaps more appropriately, a beacon of light as to what effective leadership can accomplish. It does not shine by accident. It shines because of leadership that had a vision with a well thought out plan. This plan was informed by plenty of input and was followed by a step by step approach with room for alteration. I suspect it is an evolving plan that will be strategically revisioned as societal needs and societal tools change (technology).
As a classroom practitioner for 11 years in a 1:1 classroom, I have come to the opinion that in a ubiquitous computing learning community (UCLC) the best learners must be the adult learning contingency as they model for children the essential habits of learning that will sustain them for a lifetime. Leaders must ask themselves if they are modeling the habits of learning of their childhood or the habits of learning that will enable success in the 21st Century. Can we expect children to know how to leverage technology for their learning if we cannot do it in our own lives/careers? Leadership must nourish the UCLC such that adult learners can achieve levels of habits of learning that serve to model the best that 21st Century learning has to offer to students. In so many situations, the focus on learning in the UCLC has been predominately on students while disregarding on how habits of learning can be incorporated into the workday of the adults in the community. Bold leadership allows creative, innovative scheduling such that adult learning is embedded, sustained, and nourished within the workplace and workday. It is not something just “done” two times a quarter or semester. It is “the way of the community” on a daily basis because everyone is a learner and leaders understand that passionate adult learners pay forward the gift of that passion to their students. A number of Toy's “Ten Lessons Learned” allude to these principles.
As leaders in education, we determine if a child's fingertips touch the keyboard of a laptop. Leadership must ensure as best as possible that nothing gets in the way of helping that child maximize their learning potential and effective habits of learning as this is what will enable them to be successful stewards of the global community. While we all share in this noble responsibility, it starts with bold leadership that understands that a 21st Century education leveraged with the most powerful tools at our disposal is a civil rights issue, not because it determines success or failure of a state school system, or a school district, or a school in itself- but because it determines the success or failure of a single child.