Thursday, March 27, 2008

Microsoft Prepares 21st Century Leaders

I’m at day three of Microsoft’s Partners in Learning briefing where Marion Ginopolis is presenting on a program for Michigan leaders called MI-Life. Below is an outline of the program Michigan uses to prepare school leaders for the 21st Century.

MI-LIFE is a stimulating, inspiring and challenging course designed for education administrators. The courses in the MI-LIFE curriculum have been developed by a core faculty comprised of Michigan educators who have had practical experience in the "real" world of school leadership and understand the day-to-day workings of schools. While the courses are research based, they are practical and applicable to the busy leader's daily life. It provides technology-rich courses that, when successfully completed, will earn school leaders a Michigan Leadership Improvement Framework Endorsement and 18 State Board Continuing Education Units (SB-CEUs.) You can out about the classes they offer at All classes have these four components: 1) Learning 2) Communicating 3) Collaborating 4) Data Collecting.

The MI-LIFE Educational Leadership Curriculum is structured into four Learning Units comprised of “just-in-time” units and six courses that include face-to-face sessions, instructor-led online courses and learner-directed intersession work. Here are the courses they deliver:

Digital Leadership - What are the "Right Tools?"

This learning unit is divided into "just in time" sessions focusing on the Learning, Collaborating, Communicating and Data Collecting technology tools, resources, applications leaders need to complete the MI-LIFE courses and to become successful Digital Leaders.

Goal: Encourage educational leaders to be confident technology users/leaders

Your Leadership - What are the "Right Qualities?"

This unit is comprised of one course, Optimizing Leadership, which provides the leadership foundation for the MI-LIFE Curriculum. Leaders will focus on self awareness as they journey through interactive, introspective reflection on their leadership skills, behaviors and responsibilities. Since each journey into leadership is unique, every traveler will chart his/her own course based on the personal data which emerges from collected information.

Goal: Stimulate, inspire and challenge educational leaders to confront and cultivate their personal/professional leadership capacity

Data Leadership - What is the "Right Work?"

Identifying the “Right Work” for continuous improvement in districts/schools and classrooms forms the basis of the two courses in this learning unit.
Intersecting Data centers not only on what the data “says” but how the work may change when multiple sources of data are intersected and analyzed to create a more accurate district/school profile. Intended for non-statisticians, this course focuses on how to collect, analyze and make use of data intersections to improve all aspects of student achievement.

Goal: Motivate educational leaders to become adept users of multiple sources and types of data in decision making

Aligning Systems

The first of two online courses Aligning Systems, examines the interconnectedness among the elements that comprise the whole system to determine how a change in one area of the system may impact other areas of the system and how that influences the work to be done.

Goal: Provoke educational leaders to become system thinkers

Instructional Leadership - How do we do the "Right Work?"

Doing the “Right Work” requires the MI-LIFE 3C’s for Instructional Leadership:
Coherence, Culture and Capacity.


The unit begins with Coherence, the second online course, which ensures that a process is in place for connecting curriculum with high-quality instruction and assessment followed by methods of monitoring and supervising to ensure that high-quality instruction is actually and consistently occurring in classrooms.

Goal: Equip educational leaders to become proficient instructional leaders


Culture, the second course of this unit, explores the health or toxicity of the environment in a district/school. Learners develop powerful strategies to create the right culture for a purposeful and robust professional learning community that ultimately impacts student learning.

Goal: Prompt education leaders to develop healthy cultures and promote shared leadership

, the culminating course in the MI-LIFE program, views leadership not as the sole responsibility of the building or district leader but as a collective, shared potential among many stakeholders. This course engages the learners in building capacity to focus on the concepts of principle, purpose, and people.
Increase capacity by developing a purposeful professional learning community

Of note: Administrators pay $500 to sign up for this program but the actual cost is actually about $1500. Participants can receive CEUs or College Credit. Participants receive an endorsement and certification. They are considering making this a requirement for certain leadership positions.

The folks at MI LIFE are interested in helping other school districts develop their leaders and are interested in working with others to bring this program to other parts of the world or country. To view the MI-LIFE Program Brochure, click here. To view the MI-LIFE Curriculum Syllabi, click here.

In New York we provide a program called iLead for school leaders. All or part of this may be a great follow up to our iLead program. I wonder how leaders at other school(s) are preparing to become 21st Century leaders. I also wonder if teachers of principals who have attended these programs have noticed a difference.

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