Strategic Leadership: The Windham Elementary Chromebook Initiative

Strategic Leadership: The Windham Elementary Chromebook Initiative

Marcus Paul Howell (Auburn University, USA) and Ellen H. Reames (Auburn University, USA)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 12
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-1049-9.ch115


Windham Elementary School underwent a wholesale shift towards student and teacher leadership, student centered instruction, and the adoption of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) based best practices. The use of strategic leadership was instrumental in facilitating the changes undergone at Windham. This article explored how strategic leadership was used to facilitate the development of the Chromebook Initiative. The six essential skills of strategic leadership: anticipation, challenging, interpreting, deciding, aligning and learning were used to lead school faculty through planning, implementation and evaluation of the initiative (Schoemaker, Krupp, & Howland 2013). Anticipation, challenging and interpreting, brought about faculty utilizing action research to uncover the fact that low cost Google Chromebooks would provide an easily managed, electronic environment. Using the essential strategic skills of deciding, aligning and learning, Windham Elementary established an educational account and implemented a 1:1 Google Chromebook initiative in grades 3-6 to meet the collaborative 21st century needs of students and faculty.
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The Essential Skills Of Strategic Leadership

Strategic Leadership in K-12 school settings offers the principal and teacher leaders a means of persuading other faculty members to use short and long term goal planning to strive for continuous improvement. Dealing with change is difficult for school organizations and it takes buy-in from teachers and administrators for this to occur. Starting with planning, moving forward through implementation and then institutionalizing the innovation is crucial for the long-term success. Using the essential skills of strategic leadership, school leaders can focus on a shared vision and direction for school growth.

Schoemaker, Krupp and Howland (2013) outlined the six essential skills for strategic leadership. Strategic leaders anticipate, challenge, interpret, decide, align and learn. During anticipation, strategic leaders in schools conduct action research to understand what challenges they face. During the challenge phase, strategic leaders question the status quo and try to figure out ways to continuously improve the school. Moving to interpretation, strategic leaders look at all of the information and then discover new patterns and opportunities and then make decisions. Sometimes they do not have all the information but they make the commitment to change knowing that they have several possible options. Strategic leaders then align the decision by finding common ground with the faculty. Finally, strategic school leaders study the successes and failures of themselves and others outside the school organization.


Student 21St Century Technology Skills

Student-centered, technologically integrated instruction is needed to adequately prepare students in a competitive digital society. McLeod (2015) stated, “we owe our children regular and substantive opportunities to master their current technology-suffused information, economic, and learning landscapes if they are to flourish in the present and prepare for their futures” (p. 2). Students need to experience problem-solving, in a digital collaborative environment (Claymier, 2014). The Partnership for 21st Century Learning (2007) proposed that students need the following skills in order to be prepared for the virtual and global workplace. These technology-based critical thinking skills include:

  • Creativity and innovation

  • Critical thinking and problem solving

  • Communication and collaboration

  • Information literacy

  • Media literacy

  • Information, communication and technology (ICT) literacy

Key Terms in this Chapter

Google Drive: Cloud space created by Google; allows for online user document collaboration.

21st Century Technology Skills: Literacy in the following areas: information, media and information and communications.

Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM): Typically used when describing education policy to improve the competitiveness of students in these areas.

Strategic Leadership: Provides school organizations with leadership designed to focus on vision and goals for continuous improvement.

Action Research: A type of inquiry conducted by and for those involved in taking the action. Action research is critical in the continuous improvement cycle.

Google Chromebook: A laptop which uses Chrome OS as its operating system. Chromebooks primarily use the internet and cloud space as the means of storage.

Strategic Essential Skills: Defined by Schoemaker, Krupp & Howland (2013) as anticipate, challenge, interpret, decide, align and learn.

Laptop 1:1 Initiative: Academic institution assigns each student a laptop.

Enterprise Grade Wireless Network: Defined by Kwong (2012) as manageable hardware designed to meet the needs of a large organization.

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