Sunday, April 4, 2010

Administrator 2.0 Leading Technology in Schools

Last year I had the privilege of facilitating a learning team consisting of a small group of school principals.  Learning teams in our District are learning structures designed to support action research.  These principals had recently purchased tablet PCs and had the following question:
“In what ways will my leadership skills be improved by my learning the various tools of my tablet?”
image  They are leaders of elementary (K-5) and middle (6-8) schools.

Learning teams are a very important method for our teachers and principals to experience embedded action research of their own design.  I presented their story at CUEBC in October 2009.  We have over 1/3 of our educators who’ve chosen to be on a learning team and around 41% of all learning teams have a learning with technology focus.  I talked about technology leadership in a previous post and I think this group of Principals exemplify learning and leadership.
Role of Principal and Technology
They see their role with respect to technology to show their staff some possibilities, to make the experience a good one, and to use technology as an communications tool and organizer for themselves and their school.  Something I advocate strongly is that school leaders need to be technology leaders.  I don’t think a school will be progressive in using technology to support learning, teaching, or administration unless the Principal makes it a leadership priority.  In this next clip, Principals talk about how they can be the technology leader in their school without necessarily being the expert.
School Leader = Technology Leader
Our learning team met six times.  Each person had to develop their own research question or learning goal and work towards it.  Some were personal goals while others related more to changes they wanted to make in their schools with staff.  These individuals are very busy people with their work and their personal lives and it was amazing how they found time to try new tools, learn new practices, and make progress.  Time, or lack of, is a major challenge to learning…

They share some advice for principals next.
Advice for Principals
It is really important to know what is possible, what questions to ask, and then pursue answers.  Schools have to embrace current tools.  It is important to understand kids and where they’re at with technology.  Schools have to find ways to provide the technology for teachers to use – teachers have to have access.  Principals should find a supportive group of people to learn with, like this group did through their learning team.  There are many other examples of Principals in our District who have stepped out to support and embrace technology in very effective ways in their schools.  Perhaps I’ll tell some of their stories in future posts…

I’m interested in what other Principals do to learn and lead with technology and what other Districts do to support them.  What advice do you have for your colleagues who might be struggling with how and where to start?  Also, what stories might you share about why (or why not) Principals need to be the technology leader in their schools.  What advice might you have for me, a District technology leader, in supporting Principals?