By Jim Shimabukuro
Eric Sheninger is the principal of New Milford High School (New Jersey). But he’s more than that. Much, much more. He’s a shining example of the new face of leadership. In “Building Momentum” (A Principal’s Reflections, 8.6.10), he shares his thoughts on what it means to be an educational leader in the 21st century.
The one factor that differentiates Sheninger from the vast majority of his colleagues is that he has personally stepped into the virtual world to envision the future of education. He says, “I stress the fact that this phenomenon [social media] is not going away and is a major component in the lives of today’s society.” This perspective from rather than into social networks is unique, and the insights that it provides challenge mainstream thought.
Here are a few excerpts from his article:
“As educational leaders we should be modeling, supporting, and collaborating with our respective staffs to create a vibrant school culture that fosters risk-taking and innovation.”
“I have now become an advocate of empowering educators to effectively integrate technology combined with best instructional practices.”
“It is depressing when I look around in my own state and others and notice the lack of an administrative presence in the world of social media and other areas of educational technology leadership for that matter.”
“I have so much to learn about educational leadership and facilitating sustainable change. What better way to learn than from experienced leaders in the trenches that can share their knowledge, strategies, successes, and failures?”
Sheninger lists “five facets of social media that truly assist educational leaders to become more effective and efficient, and the first is “Communication: Effective communication is one of the most important characteristics associated with successful leaders. Social media provides free tools to enhance public relations, celebrate student/staff accomplishments, and keep all stakeholders informed 24/7. Blogging is one of the best tools available to aid in communication.”
Third is “Professional Development/Growth: Educators now have access to relevant, meaningful resources that are available as needed. We can now connect with experts in a variety of fields of study, pick their brains, strategize, and receive feedback like never before. The best of all is that we can do this from our office, home, or on the go with mobile devices during times that are convenient for us.”
Fifth is “Collaboration: This is such an exciting time to be in education as we now have the ability to connect on a global scale. This not only does wonders for our own learning but also really sets the stage for developing authentic experiences for our students.”