Saturday, July 12, 2008

Effective School Technology Leadership

I read Chris Lehmann's blog post "A Whole New School". Chris, who blogs at Practical Theory: A View from the Classroom and is the principal of The Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia, PA.  Chris asks this question. What is Good Technology Education Leadership? Here is his answer.
The simple answer is that good technology educational leadership is no different than good educational leadership; that the choices we make with technology education should be deliberate, thoughtful and in line with the overall educational goals of our organization.
I hope that we are seeing better leadership and our schools with respect to technology, at least I am seeing this at my high school and school district which has a very strong commitment to integration of technology for teachers and students as well.  This is evident by our school district issuing Macbook laptops to each teacher this year and our technology department spending a lot of time this summer teaching the teachers how to use them.

So how do we expose and integrate technology in our classrooms and involve students?
First, we have to recognize that to use these tools only for two periods a week is not transformative, and it perpetuates the problem of access.
I do believe that we as teachers who teach subjects other than Computer Technology Classes we must look for innovative ways to integrate technology and Web 2.0 tools in our classrooms to engage our students more in what we are trying to teach them.

Even though most of us are not 1 to 1 schools where every student has a laptop issued to them, I do believe that as teachers, we should seek out opportunities to allow our students the access to computers and computer labs and show them how to use these emerging technologies wherever possible.

When I see computers and computer labs vacant for many hours of the school day I begin to wonder why are we not using our resources better.  I think a big part of the answer should be to get teachers more excited about their own knowledge and abilities and seek out professional development opportunities to learn how to use these technologies in their classrooms.

In addressing the tools and technologies available to us as educators, he gives us a guideline to use in using these tools.
Secondly, these tools allow all of us — students and teachers — to do five things better than we’ve ever been able to do them in our classes before: Research, Collaborate, Create, Present and Network.
In summary he asks what is the role of teachers with all of these Web 2.0 tools available to us.
Finally, what is the role of the teacher with all these new tools? It is my belief that while our role has shifted, teachers have never been more important. We are no longer the only source of information in our classrooms as kids can access information more quickly and more powerfully than ever before, but as the world becomes more fast-paced, more bewildering, more and more of a Tower of Babel, we have one role left to us, and I believe that it has always been our most important role. More than the skills we still teach, more than the content we still teach….

We teach wisdom.
I really enjoyed reading this post.  I agree with much of what Chris says in this post and enjoy reading what he has written.  I had the opportunity to meet Chris at NECC 2008 in San Antonio, TX this summer and listen to him present at the Bloggers' Cafe.  As I told him at NECC he would be a fun principal to work for because he would challenge teachers to expand their own horizons and use of technologies in their classrooms.


Nancy Pratt said...

Hi John,

Great synopsis here. I enjoy Chris's blog too-he is real, and passionate about the business of teaching and learning. My feeling is that another role of leadership is to provide for access. To incorporate that vision for the school, or district in which they belong. I am happy for you that you are in a place that "gets it" where the support is there.

In my district, we seem to constantly be waiting for the vision to come, to be communicated, for the leadership to place the proper emphasis on this educational shift. From being completely "locked down," to very short of funding, we are constantly fighting an uphill battle - and what makes it so frustrating is that I know that we all are wanting the same things for kids. Short of the few personal agendas that are lurking around, I know the teachers for sure get it and have the students at heart always, and most of the other stakeholders do too. I would like to see this "vision" begin with the school board. It has to come from them and then through the administration we can make change. We happen to have a school board that is totally in an upheaval with resignations and lack of support of the administrative team on the ground. Very sad. Our superintendent just resigned last week. I just don't understand what is going on!

But through it all, we ( my team ) are going to continue with our goals this year of increasing student achievement through coaching, mentoring, and encouragement in the use of innovative strategies as best we can. WE know it can make a difference. We see it every time we work with the teachers. So we'll just get going, and continue.

At the EduBloggerCon, there was a session about "if Leadership doesn't get it, it's not going to get done" or something...that session was a huge discussion. I think my big take away from that is that I (we) am an agent of change. We all are. I just have to use my voice and say what I need to say. So I am going to try to be more vocal this year, to the people who need to hear about the innovations we want to accomplish and the resources we need.

More access would be great, but in the absence of that, we will keep on evangelizing. (A focused evangilization for sure :) )

Someone will listen! And as long as we stay in line with the educational goals of our organizations, as Chris says, as long as we stay true to the mission of teaching and learning, our teachers and students will benefit.

John Peters said...

Thanks Nancy, Chris is absolutely amazing, especially in person. I don't want to "wait" for leadership to take us by the hand and lead us into technology. I want to be one of those who is doing the leading at my school.

I also think it is all about 2 things:

Getting the students interested and engaged in what they are learning; and

Getting the teachers on board with the new and emerging technologies.

I went to the Edubloggercon session on "If Leadership Doesn't Get it" and I agree with you here that we have to be the "Agents of Change". I love that term by the way.

Thanks for your comment it was great to hear from you