An Open Letter To School Leaders

For the past several weeks, I have been preparing a series of workshops for school and community leaders who are ready to embrace social media and explore the powerful ways new social technologies and platforms can be used in classrooms and schools.

As I outlined, re-outlined and tweaked the schedule trying to craft the “perfect” day,  I kept coming back to how I could frame the conversation beyond the content of the day and show how much it means and will mean for a leader to make a commitment to this work.

I wanted to share the following message not only to those attending the sessions, but to all school leaders ready to jump in and move their district and their communities to the next level.


Dear Leader,

First, let me say I’m thrilled that social media is on your radar as something you realize requires studying, experiencing and investigating. I’m ecstatic that you aren’t looking at social media as something that can be taught in one or two quick workshops or handed over to a third party that you hire to run your schools website or Twitter account.

I say these things with gratitude and as I know many of your colleagues still do not quite get why you are taking time off school to go “mess around with apps” and sign up for those “time-wasting sites” like Facebook and Twitter.  I know you encounter many leaders, in and out of our field, who are not willing to ask the questions that you are asking

Questions like: (HT to Scott McLeod)

    1. What can we do to increase the cognitive complexity of students’ day-to-day work so that they are more often doing deeper thinking and learning work?
    2. What can we do to better incorporate digital technologies into students’ deeper thinking and learning work in ways that are authentic, relevant, meaningful, and powerful?
    3. What can we do to give students more agency and ownership of what they learn, when they learn, how they learn, and how they show what they’ve learned?
    4. What can we do to build the internal capacity of both individual educators and school systems to be better learners and faster change agents?
    5. As we move toward more cognitively-complex, technology-suffused learning environments, how do we bring educators, board members, parents, communities, policymakers, and higher education along with us?
    6. As we move toward more cognitively-complex, technology-suffused learning environments, how do we ensure that traditionally-underserved student and family populations aren’t further disadvantaged?
    7. As we move toward more cognitively-complex, technology-suffused learning environments, what individual and societal mindsets – and local, state, and federal policy supports and/or barriers – need reconsideration?
    8. What can we do to better recognize and assess when students’ deeper thinking and learning work is (or isn’t) occurring?

So getting to our agenda, our efforts this day are not only about how and in what ways you will use social media, but how you as a leader, a powerful and emerging brand, will discover a new level of leadership and learning capacity.

What do I mean by that.

You understand and embrace that you are the face of your school and represent the values and traditions that it is known for. Aside from that, YOU are a brand that represents brave and bold leadership. Who you are and what you model as a leader and learner can inspire and empower those you lead and serve.  You have made the commitment to “TO BE” the change.  By “going first you are now in a position to say:  I understand.  I have been there.  I know exactly what your feeling. Here’s what helped me.

Together we will spend a day exploring amazing tools and platforms, and more importantly how we can elevate and extend their use to:

    1. Improve Relationships
    2. Increase Productivity
    3. Save Time and Money
    4. Shoulder Burdens and Ease Insecurities
    5. Work Smarter and Happier

This will not be an easy day. You will find your self feeling overwhelmed, saturated with information and wondering how you are going to make sense of it all. It’s okay, because you do not have to make sense of it all. You have a network waiting to help you do exactly that. Leadership is lonely, and I can assure you that attempting this road alone is not a path I would recommend.

I am so looking forward to learning from you and beside you. I welcome and am energized by the challenges ahead and take comfort in knowing that I too am not going it alone.

Your Guide in Real Time!



Lets Do This R.I.G.H.T.

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  • Alexander Berger

    Hey Angela,
    This workshop sounds like a great resource.

    Especially this point: “What can we do to give students more agency and ownership of what they learn, when they learn, how they learn, and how they show what they’ve learned?”

    As a student, I was not that excited about much of my school work. It was not my own, but rather arbitrary pieces of information I was being asked to memorize. I hope that teachers can use technology to help students learn about what they are interested in, which can result in students taking ownership of their learning goals if introduced properly.

    I am a great student, when I am fascinated with what I learning.

  • Anneliz Hannan


    I admire your efforts in this area. The integration of social media across all disciplines in education is vital to the preparation of our students for their careers. I wish this sort of workshop was available when I was a student but alas, when I was a student, social media wasn’t around. The support of those (teachers) who guide our children is crucial. My hat is off to you and all who participate.

  • Josh Adkison


    I am an education major at the University of South Alabama, and I am in EDM 310, which is a class designed to help students become technology literate by reading and responding to blogs. Embracing social networks and technologies in schools is a very refreshing and forward thinking approach. I hope to incorporate some form of this into my future classroom. Thank you for your contributions to the field of education, and I look forward to continuing to read your blog.

  • Bob Dillon

    Just finished reading your open letter. I’m so excited that you are doing this work with Iowa principals. The folks in Missouri could continue to grow in this way also, but I’m seeing hope and progress. Last year, you spoke with us about passion based learning, and the social media message leached in, and I think that it took hold. It is amazing that I can’t think of leading any other way than as a connected principal. If anyone in IA needs another colleague to talk with about how this work impacts their work in a positive way, feel free to send them my way. Cheers. #youmatter

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