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Are you a future ready leader?

By Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach
April 18, 2016
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The Office of Educational Technology (OET) recently released Personalized Professional Learning for Future Ready Leaders. This new set of personalized learning tools supports superintendents as they develop plans to implement research-based digital learning strategies to provide equitable access to transformative learning experiences for all students.

April is Future Ready Leaders Month, and OET, ISTE and other professional organizations have been blogging, tweeting, chatting and engaging around the four key focus areas of future ready leadership: collaborative leadership, personalized student learning, personalized professional learning and robust infrastructure.

Do you have “robust infrastructure?”

This week the theme is robust infrastructure. Joseph South, director of the Office of Educational Technology; Brian Lewis, ISTE CEO; and me in my role as chair of Connected Educator Month, will discuss this topic with school leaders during a Slack chat today at 7 p.m (ET). We’ll talk about the challenges of developing and maintaining a robust infrastructure, including assessing your current situation, setting goals, developing a long-term approach and planning your first action steps. You must register before the chat to participate!

What are future ready leaders?

The first step was to develop a researched rubric to serve as a foundation for defining future ready leaders. Next we created a self-assessment tool that aligned with the rubric dimensions and that generated a playlist of videos selected from the 50 that were produced from visiting eight exemplary, future ready districts.

Characteristics of future ready leadership

Future ready leaders lead from their passions, believe in collaboration and understand innovative and personalized uses of technology with respect to curriculum and pedagogy. Here are definitions of the four main domains of future ready leadership:

Collaborative leadership. Formal leadership is typically associated with position and role-based power. Traditionally, formal leaders have led in sometimes authoritative ways: Do what I say because I told you to, and I will give you a paycheck. Leaders led, others followed. Transformational leaders, in contrast, are collaborative decision makers who empower stakeholders to actively participate in learning and leading. Transformational leaders encourage collaboration through the lenses of connected learning and distributed leadership. Future ready leaders are transformational leaders.

Personalized learning and professional learning opportunities. Future ready leaders understand that to help their faculty leverage the potential for personalized learning, they must first own it for themselves  own it through connections with others around their own learning goals. A future ready vision of teaching moves from “I am the teacher” to helping students chase their passions, empowering them to find their voices online and off, creating classrooms free from threat and stress, and forming a school environment that not only extends beyond the classroom walls but encourages risk taking, creativity and innovation.

Robust infrastructure. Future ready leaders understand the importance of creating connected spaces that support personalized learning. Considerations have to be made about equitable, reliable access and robust, next generation devices. Future ready leaders also understand that robust infrastructure begins with informed personnel who do not just see themselves as working with technology but rather as part of a team helping students succeed. 

Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach is co-founder and CEO of Powerful Learning Practice and an ISTE Board member. For more information about Future Ready Leaders, visit