What a thrill to finally see one of my blog entries appear at Huffington Post. It's been a joy to see the serious conversations taking place, and I have to admit that I felt a bit intimidated as time went by. One of my favorite paragraphs from In Loco Parentis is this one:
Though my 11-year-old son is too young for Facebook, his youth serves as no barrier to learning the lessons that prepare him to secure privacy -- made more precious for its scarcity -- while living "in the open," online. For him, YouTube provides lessons that many boys have been engaged in for hundreds of years -- the thrill of the hunt, albeit a virtual one.
On the drive into school every morning, my hawk-eyed son shares his previous evening'sconquests with me. His stories of derring-do and adventure remind me of my youth, when a curved piece of wood dabbed with red paint serving as my blooded blade, fresh from slicing a Saracen marauder in Twain.
You get the idea...violence, imagined or visualized, grounds itself in the stories we tell. The stories, though false, feed our confidence as children. Yet, in our morning conversations, we both acknowledge that my talent with a Beretta pistol or his with a blue-black machine-gun pistol are not.
I've often sat working at the computer, listening to my son play a game LIVE with other children his age. The level of collaboration--facilitated by a speaker-phone--amazes the ear. But the power of the game in how students learn to play together in an online environment, at a distance, but how they adapt their strategy to emerge victorious. When I consider how important it is for adults to do the same thing while solving problems, and how some adults just never seem to develop those skills, I can't help but get excited about the prospects of these children growing up to work together.
When I was my son's age, I also played video games. They were mostly solitary affairs, "boy vs video game." Even when I play games now, I often prefer those which allow me to pit my skills against the need to accomplish a certain task. I often wonder if I had played more collaborative games as a child, how that would have impacted MY collaboration in a work setting.
And, what leadership skills are needed? Hard-driving bosses who focus more on encouraging individual achievement rather than galvanizing, unleashing the power of a collaborative may be "missing the boat." Of course, I put myself in that category. Am I helping MY team of talented folks work collaboratively together, or am I encouraging star performers to do great things, albeit as individuals? It is a sobering question.
Team Leadership...it's not a term unheard of. Is team leadership evident in the gaming that our children are engaged with each other? Does it really apply? The elements of team leadership, according to this web site, include the following:
Team leadership differs from traditional top-down leadership in the following ways (Bradford, 1976, as adapted by Yukl, 1989):
Responsibility for group effectiveness is not on the leader's shoulders but is shared by the group.
Control over the final decision is not held by the leader but is best left to the group.
The importance of one's position and power are de-emphasized in team leadership.
The leader perceives the group not as a set of individuals but as an "interacting and collective team."
The task-oriented functions of the team are not performed only by the leader but are shared by the entire group through its new roles.
Group maintenance functions are not performed systematically but are emphasized and shared by the group as a whole.
Socioemotional processes and interactions, while mostly ignored by leaders in top-down settings, are observed closely by team leaders.
Expressions of members' needs and feelings are not discouraged but are encouraged by team leaders and are dealt with openly in meetings.
In an American School Board Journal (asbj.com) interview I gave Thursday night, I shared my concern about how slowly school districts are moving along the continuum in the use of social media. On one end, districts see social media tools as media outlets to be used, much in the same way other traditional media outlets are employed. At this end of the continuum, only one or two people have the right to speak on behalf of the organization and share the "official version" of the story.
On the other end of the continuum, social media is used by everyone in the organization, not just the titular head of the organization and a small dedicated group, to share the story of what's happening in the education community.
When you consider that the proliferation of social media tools, the ubiquity of technology available to all, it's clear that the transformational role of the school district translates into facilitating and encouraging everyone to share their version of the story. This means dealing openly with "expressions of" the community's "needs and feelings." This just doesn't happen except through very confrontational situations--such as angry school board meetings--or tense closed-door meetings.
On further thought, it may be our perception of those tense closed-door meetings needs to change as well. In those meetings, serious issues are decided...and that's where the matter ends. Social media is seen as the place where serious matters are introduced, discussed, but never settled. What if that dynamic is flipped around?