Thursday, January 6, 2011

Passing the torch or lighting it?

I6910flaming_torch have been interested in the integration of technology in schools and in the leadership of schools for some time.  However, within the last two years my engagement with technology as an integral part of my leadership/administrative role and my teaching role has grown exponentially.  There are many factors involved in this growth.  Some of these factors are purely associated with the exciting possibilities presented by the available hardware and software.  Other factors involve my growing interests in social networking as a component of professional development.  Still another factor has been the passionate promotion of exploring digital resources that many friends and colleagues have convinced me to try out.

One of these colleagues is my current Director of Technology Integration who writes the blog, 6 AM Thoughts.  He and I often discuss technology integration and share our lessons involving technology in school.  Recently, though, he commented that he felt as if he had, “passed the torch” of technology integration to me.

My response to him was that I did not feel as if her had “passed a torch”, but rather helped “light a torch” that led me to discover some outstanding benefits associated with integrating technology as a teacher and administrator.

Each day, we all come across a number of different people in schools.  These can be students, parents, colleagues, etc.  As leaders, do we pay enough attention to how we go about “passing and lighting the torch” in others? 

Passing the Torch

There are times in which “passing the torch” may be most appropriate.  For example, if you are trying to develop a leadership density among your team, then you may want to seek leadership opportunities for others, thus identifying “torches” for others to light.  Leaders are also, generally, comfortable with their own strengths and challenges.  Situations in which a leader needs support may lend itself to a degree of “torch passing” in order to sufficiently and effectively address a situation.

Lighting the Torch

Recently, I wrote a blog post asking for feedback on leadership qualities most necessary for educational leaders.  The blog post asked for responses to a simple poll question.  The results of that poll suggest that providing vision was the most important quality for educational leaders.  The picture of visionary leaders being out front, connecting with others to advance a worthy cause, and motivating others to share in these efforts is aligned with the idea of “lighting the torch.”  It implies action based on discovery and progress. 

This is not to say that passing the torch is taking steps back, it is simply a different set of leadership qualities.  I would offer that in many situations, a leader is appropriate in “passing the torch” once that leader has “lit the torch” and allowed it to mature into a working flame.

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