Monday, January 27, 2014

Effective Digital Leadership: Moving Our Schools Forward

Notes from a concurrent session at TASA Midwinter 2014.

Effective Digital Leadership: Moving Our Schools Forward
Don Jacobs, Principal
Anita Scott Elementary School
Royse City ISD
Twitter: @Don_Jacobs

All presentation resources, including slides, are posted at

Don referenced Eric Sheninger's new book, Digital Leadership: Changing Paradigms for Changing Times, as inspiration for his presentation.

Communications - Blog which Don uses to communicate with his staff. Emails get deleted or misplaced. Can also be accessed from anywhere that you have internet access, not just when you are connected to your school/district network.

Blog also sets admins up in order to be able to do flipped learning with their staff. Post video or article you want staff to go over prior to a meeting, then have them discuss during your faculty meeting. Saves time in the meeting and lets meeting time be more productive. - Melinda Miller, Principal in Missouri who uses flipped learning with her staff. She is in her second year of this. She talks about mistakes she's made and what she's learned from them! Don showed a video Melinda created for the start of the school year. What was cool about this video is Melinda talked about the tools she used to create the video so her teachers would know how she did it!

Public Relations

In Royce City ISD, every campus has a Twitter account and shares reminders with parents and students via Twitter.

Remind 101 - Free texting service for teachers to text students without sharing phone numbers. Must have an education email account to set up an account. Don uses it to text his staff on important topics that can't wait for everyone to check their email.


Other people are talking about our schools and teachers and students. Schools and districts need to be part of that conversation. We need to be using social media to tell people about the positive things that are going on in our classrooms and schools!

Professional Growth

Don uses Twitter for a professional learning network. He is constantly in conversation with people about what is going on in his job, growing with them and learning from them. He can't imagine doing his job without his Twitter PLN. Don is trying fresh ideas on his campus because of connections he's made with Angela Myers on Twitter.

Follow hashtags on Twitter like #txed, #txlege, #digilead, #txidea, #txeduchat - Professional social network for the education community - watch their webinars and webcasts live or in recording.

Edcamps - unconferences where there aren't traditional keynote speakers or vendors. Educators come together to learn about topics they want to on a given day. Agenda is created the day of the conference. Royse City is hosting EdCamp Awesome in Feburary 2014.

Student Learning

Todd Nesloney, 5th Grade Teacher, Waller ISD - PBL and Flipped Classroom - Was invited to White House as part of White House Champions of Change initiative. Gave his incoming 4th graders the 4th grade Math STAAR w/out the multiple choice answers, and they bombed it. Used flipped learning to focus on their areas of need and had a 97% pass rate on the 6th grade STAAR.


Don uses Google Drive to collaboratively create documents with his colleagues. Ex: Creating elementary student handbook. Don't have to worry about emailing copies back and forth.

Don also uses Evernote to keep his notes in the cloud and access them from his phone, tablet, laptop, or computer. Evernote searches the text in images which is helpful when you can't remember everything on a business card. Also uses Evernote to type notes during teacher observations. He can record audio of what's going on in the classroom and take pictures of student work, classroom layout, etc.

Dropbox also keeps Don organized. He hasn't carried a flash drive in three years!

Digital Leadership

There are new tools born almost every day, and you can't keep up with all of them! Pick one or two tools and get comfortable using them.

Administrators are trying to lead into innovation and make sure schools are educating kids to think and create and work outside the box. If admins want teachers and students to be like this, then administrators need to model it in front of them. Teachers will respond to modeling.

It is a difficult challenge and it is not comfortable. But after a while it becomes easier. - Don's personal blog. 

All original work in this post by Sandy Kendell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. Please see specifics on my re-use policy in the right-hand column of my blog before re-posting/re-using any of my blog content.