Education Leadership Day 2011

leadershipday2011Leadership Day is a project started by Scott McLeod and is now in its fourth year. The idea is for people to “blog about whatever you like related to effective school technology leadership: successes, challenges, reflections, needs, wants, resources, ideas, etc.” This is something I have thought about participating in for several years but for one reason or other never gotten to actually do it. This year I thought I really had to because I really do have thoughts about school technology leadership. So here they are:

School Technology Leaders Lead They lead by example. Back when I was a technology coordinator for a private high school I ran learning sessions for teachers called “Technology Tuesdays.” The headmaster showed up at several of these sessions. He was aware that he, like many in education from superintendents to teachers to Para professionals, needed to know more about technology and took steps to learn. He realized that teachers would follow his example and so that he had to not only encourage the use of technology and professional development but he had to lead my example. So he learned and he used technology. If leaders don’t become lifelong technology users and active technology users they can’t expect teachers to do so. Do as I say not as I do  doesn’t work any better for educational leaders than it does for parents.

School Technology Leaders Remember Who The Boss Is You would not believe how many times I have heard from a Principal or even a superintendent of schools “I’d like to do that but my tech support people will not let me.” Astounding. Too many school leaders are willing to subsume their goals to those of the tech support people. I am reminded of a quote attributed to J P Morgan “I don’t hire lawyers to tell me what I can’t do. I hire lawyers to tell me how I can do what I want.” The equivalent is that school technology leaders, who want to really BE leaders, need to hire, train and encourage technology support people who can tell them how they can do what they want rather than what they can and cannot do. For technology to be the learning tool that it can be it has to enable teachers, enable students, and yes, enable administrators to do new and better things. Sure it is easy to lock things down tightly but too often we miss teaching moments because of this.

School Technology Leaders Know When to Say Yes Suppose you had students who were willing to spend their own money to buy a computer several times more powerful than the one that controlled the Apollo lunar lander. Would you let them use it for educational purposes? Or would you ban them from the building? I am of course talking about smart phones. They can of course be a distraction. But if teachers are willing to deal with the classroom management issues to take advantage of these tools do you say yes or quote policy and say no? If teachers want to bring new technology into the classroom like wikis, blogs, Twitter, web pages or other tools that (shudder) take education beyond the four walls of the classroom is the answer an automatic no or is there a fair discussion and an intelligent choice that often results in a yes? I saw some amazing projects at the Partners in Learning 2011 U.S. Innovative Education Forum that had students from all age groups learning from peers in other countries. Students in remote rural areas getting to understand other parts of the country and the world as real places with real people. Would you say yes to that sort of experience.

School Technology Leaders Are Always Learning We’d never accept “I’m just no good at Math” or English from a teacher. We also expect more from those who would be leaders. The best teachers, administrators, the people who are and who remain leaders are constantly learning. There are learning opportunities for learning for administrators. There are of course educational conferences but there are other options as well. Microsoft offers various leadership training opportunities. So do other companies. Sure they are product heavy in some ways but they also offer great networking opportunities and the chances to learn concepts with general applicability.

Basically school technology leaders don’t just let things happen. They seek out opportunities, they learn new things, they trust their leading teachers, they take advice from their tech support people but not orders from them – in short they lead.

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