What Are You Building?

Post for Leadership Day 2010

My Essential Question for Leaders in Education:

“How will you teach your students and teachers to build relationships?”

On it’s surface, the question may not seem directly related to technology, but hopefully you recognize that it is a key component to every student’s education. If we can build relationships with people, ideas, and groups of people, then our opportunities to learn something new (or to teach someone something new) multiply greatly.

Essentially, every piece of great technology is about relationships between people and ideas. The telegraph helped people to communicate across large distances. TNT was supposed to help people build bridges and destroy barriers. The Department of Defense’s ARPANet was designed to achieve greater coordinated efforts and intelligence sharing, and eventually–with Al Gore’s help–became our Internet.

Our ultimate job as educators, whether we are in a classroom or down the hall from one, is to build relationships. I believe that relationships are the key to learning anything, and learning is tied into everything we do in education.

As leaders in education, we must have and express the need to have a strong relationship with learning new things. Marzano calls the relationship with continual learning “fluid intelligence” and says it’s required for success in any area.

What else can we fit under the umbrella of continual learning and relationship building? What term can we apply to cover these committments we hold as educational leaders? I suggest, “technology.”

Whether we use TNT or a telegraph, we need to learn how to use technology to break down the barriers of learning and relationships. How that’s done is not something I can prescribe to you from this blog; reading what I say is like picking up a brick and stacking it onto other things you’ve read, but there is no mortar without a relationship. Without a dialogue between you and I (or with someone else about what you’ve read) you’re just stacking up bricks, not building a relationship with an idea.

I urge you not to take in a list of ten great technologies to suggest to teachers and principals, not to go out and buy books X, Y, or Z, but ultimately to start a conversation about what you’re learning and with whom you’re connected to. Only from that seeking out of new knowledge–through whatever barrier reducing “technology” is available to you–will there be true benefit.

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6 thoughts on “What Are You Building?

  1. Pingback: Acoustic teaching… | Blogush

  2. There exists behind every great educator the understanding of the importance of relationships. Too many times, we forget about the foundations simply because the word technology comes into play.

    Your point about great technology creating the connections between people and ideas is excellent. When we see social media, relationships around ideas, beliefs, and paths are at the core.

    With that said, it is your last paragraph that resonates so much with me: “I urge you not to take in a list of ten great technologies to suggest to teachers and principals, not to go out and buy books X, Y, or Z, but ultimately to start a conversation about what you’re learning and with whom you’re connected to.”

    Just think about how different our conversations surrounding emerging technologies and social media might be if framed around ideas like relationships.

  3. Steve
    Your message to “… start a conversation about what you’re learning and with whom you’re connected to. Only from that seeking out of new knowledge–through whatever barrier reducing “technology” is available to you–will there be true benefit” is right on the money.
    I think a telegraph (or tech) is better for learning than TNT but …. :)
    Thanks. I’m glad I found your blog here. Added it into my RSS.
    Kevin

  4. I agree 100% with what you’re saying here, and the “conversation” it allows is one of the great things about social media. However, I think people forget that a conversation involves give and take, input and output, speaking and listening. I fear “technology” has taken the listening out of our conversations because everyone just wants to be heard so their name becomes known. Luckily, I find this is less of an issue in the network of teachers, but I still think it’s something that needs more emphasis when building these online relationships.
    Glad I found your blog. Great post!

  5. Pingback: #leadershipday10: the complete list : Darcy Moore's Blog

  6. Hi Steve,

    I guess God led me to your blog today as I am trying to build relationships with my parents this year in a different and deeper way. I am doing some research with a fellow doctoral colleague on “talk” in the classroom and I am trying to draw the families in for a richer and lasting experience. I am trying to think of a way to scan the notes sent in or transcribe our dialogue in class and then get it out to all families on my website on a sort of newsfeed. I think it could have a powerful impact if only I can figure out how to go about it. We have kicked around a few ideas and I just loved reading your blog today! I am proud of the work that you do, Steve.
    Love, Gwen (your mom’s cousin)

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