School Leadership: Marching to a New Beat

The following was originally published on Dr. Rod Berger’s Scholastic Blog “Down The Hall.” 

Sean Gaillard has been recognized as a leading voice in education around the U.S. connecting the practice of education to the social communities driving the next generation of school leaders. I spent some time talking with him about how school-based leaders look at innovation and inclusive technology that advances personal and professional practice in classrooms. Check out one of Sean’s favorite tools, below, as he created a Buncee to communicate his approach to Principal Leadership.

Rod Berger: Well Sean, I’m looking forward to this. You an educational leader. You are also well known in the social media sphere for all your contributions to leadership, and the conversation in education. I want to start there.

Tell me about the day that you first decided to participate and place your hold on social media, Twitter chats, founding Twitter chats, etc. What was that initial day like when you said, “You know what, I’m going to do this?”

Sean Gaillard: First of all, it’s great to talk with you Rod, great to be here. I would have to say it probably started with marketing and telling my school story.

It started a couple of years ago, at a previous school I worked at. It was a school in desperate need of a positive turn around. It was a school in which achievement was dipping and in which there was a negative perception within our community.

My first step into Twitter was dealing with what many other great principals and school leaders were doing which was marketing and highlighting the positive things that were happening.

I noticed in the course of that journey that there were these things called hashtags, and these hashtags were getting some interest, things like Ed Chat, and Lead Up Chat. I discovered, wow, here is a way that I can connect with other principals and lead learners, assistant principals and teachers to grow as a professional.

It started off as, “PD in your pocket” kind of thing. And for a guy whose time is spread thinly through meetings, being in classrooms, evaluating teachers, connecting with community partners, I liked the instantaneous professional development that I was getting through folks in my professional learning network.

RB: One of the things I hear from people who are new and dipping their toe into the shallow end of social media (PD in your pocket, I like that), is there’s so much information. How have you changed in the way that you discern quality from quantity with regards to what you are seeing with the influx of all of these materials, not just here in the US, but all over the world?

SG: It is extremely overwhelming. I’m a member of ASCB. I’m a member of NACIP. I found an entry point through these kinds of Principal organizations.

Also finding principals that were leading schools, similar to mine, or dealing with related issues, and networking. Twitter and other social media, is not any different than networking in person at a conference, where you find out someone is a Title 1 principal or they are part of STEMA. You want to learn more.

And then through those conversations with people that are walking on the similar ground, you decide to check out a chat, or a blog and follow/learn more from various leaders.

I think it’s just refining those kind of common entry points that we all share as educators, and then those entry points are nuanced based on the role, based upon the need, based upon the direction you want to go as an educator. I found Twitter was helpful in that realm.

Check out the rest of the interview “School Leadership: Marching to a New Beat” on Scholastic District Administrator featuring Sean Gaillard with Dr. Rod Berger. 

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