Four Mindsets to LEAP Into Innovation 

Guest post by Bill Ziegler

How can principals lead learning in a way where students want to run to school rather than away from it? This challenge can be daunting, but it’s one that requires our full focus as we strive to design schools where students see a practical and relevant connection, creativity being nurtured, and real-world problems being solved. This requires school leaders to think differently, to innovate, and to lead with courage. 

The term digital leader should be synonymous with an innovative leader focused on learning. No longer can we lead in simply a digital framework; instead, we need to be innovative thinkers and leaders who are committed to student learning and growing an equitable and culturally responsive school.

This blog is designed to equip, encourage, and empower you as a school leader to innovate learning and your leadership in a way that empowers students and staff to new levels of growth and success. Over the coming months, you will hear from school leaders across the country, from diverse school settings and backgrounds, on how they are transforming their learning culture to empower every student through innovative leadership and learning. 

You will be equipped with practical and innovative strategies that you can use immediately in your school to provide real and sustainable change for the benefit of all students and staff. And, you will be encouraged to try and learn new things, to take risks, and to get connected with a professional learning network (PLN) of school leaders who are growing and learning together. You will also be empowered to lead learning and innovation in your school in a way that energizes your students and staff.

This blog will be an easy read, around 500-750 words, and written from practicing school leaders who are innovating in their schools to strengthen learning and their school culture through an innovative mindset. To start, the NASSP Digital Principals of the Year award winners will be writing these blogs, and as it grows, we will invite other exemplary, innovative school leaders who are doing what it takes to lead their students and schools toward success.

Below are four “mindsets” to LEAP into innovation:

  • Learning mindset—School leaders need to be voracious learners who are constantly reading, networking, and growing as leaders and learners. This is why you need a PLN to develop as a leader and to stretch and grow.
  • Empowering mindset—For true growth and sustainability to take place with innovation in learning, school leaders need to empower others to lead. Invest in your teachers, challenge them, and inspire them to try new things and to innovate in their teaching and learning.
  • Advanced mindset—School leaders need to have a mindset that hungers to advance the learning and growth of students and their staff. We need to move beyond the status quo and into a culture of growth and progress for all. It’s critical that school leaders focus on nurturing, developing, and advancing their staff as much as students. A true learning culture focuses on both!
  • Practical mindset—Innovation that inspires is innovation that solves real-world problems and makes practical connections to life. We can’t innovate to entertain; instead we must innovate to make a difference in our world. This reminds me of the student who desired to make a prosthetic hand for one of his classmates, so he and his teacher accepted the Prosthetic Kids Hand Challenge and did just that.

I encourage you to connect with this blog and to interact with the school leaders who are writing the blog posts. Follow them on Twitter, send them a Vox, or reach out to ask a follow-up question. Each writer looks forward to the opportunity to interact with and learn from you. 

Bill Ziegler, EdD, is an award-winning school leader, author, and speaker. He has been recognized as the 2016 Pennsylvania Principal of the Year and an NASSP 2015 Digital Principal of the Year. He is the co-author of Future Focused Leaders: Relate, Innovate, and Invigorate for Real Educational Change. Bill serves as principal of Pottsgrove High School in Pottstown, PA, and has close to 20 years of experience as a school leader. Follow him on Twitter @drbillziegler

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