Technology Leaders and Gaining Support

Thursday, May 21, 2015
Currently, I am only in my fourth year of teaching. I do not feel like much of a leader in anything . . . However, I know that my Master's program is training me not only to successfully integrate technology into my instruction, but also to be confident enough to help my peers do the same. One day I do wish to hold the position of an instructional technology specialist, so I know that exhibiting leadership in this area now will go a long way to preparing me for the position and demonstrating to my administration that I desire to take on more responsibility.

That being said, I’ve seen a few of initiatives come along in my 4 short years, and I’ve observed a number of responses, positive and negative, from educators about jumping on the next “bandwagon.” As new initiatives come along, I think that the biggest thing a leader can do to garner support is to model what they want their staff to do. I believe that a good educational leader should be willing and capable of implementing what they want their staff to implement. 

So how should this look in schools? Well, one should see educational leaders modeling practices during professional development, but also modeling for teachers in their classrooms, as well. At my school, we have an instructional coach who will come into your class and teach a lesson, observe you implementing the same strategy, and work with you to perfect it. In his book, Digital Leadership: Changing Paradigms for Changing TimesEric Sheninger shares that school leaders “must effectively and consistently model the use of the same technology tools they expect teachers to use in their classrooms with their students” (p. 42). When it comes to integrating technology effectively, technology leaders should do the same. 

7 comments:

  1. Ashley,

    I agree it is vital to ensure staff is implementing technology in the classrooms. Picciano reports the “digital divide” first brought to national attention in the early 90s has been significantly reduced but not resolved (2011). More recent studies and reports show the digital divide is still very much a reality today. These digital divides exist in all geographic areas as well as between socioeconomic groups. The lack of technology is not the only form of this digital divide. In some areas this divide can be seen through lower performing computers and lower speed wireless connections. It is important for educators to understand this divided and to try to implement a plan that allows all students’ access to the technology necessary for learning the curriculum.
    As Sheninger (2014) mentions, a leader’s main responsibility is to “observe and evaluate instruction” (p. 34). It is also imperative for a good leader to be able to effectively implement the technology they want their staff to implement. Sheninger (2014) continues to state school principals “must effectively and consistently model the use of the same technology tools they expect teachers to use in their classrooms with their students” (p. 42). Principals must model the behaviors they expect from their staff. I have seen several individuals in administrative positions that have not understood technology but still expects staff to provide various information through technological devices. Currently our lesson plans are to be submitted online for approval by our assistant principal. Unfortunately she does not fully understand how to access this information, provide constructive feedback to teachers, or approve the plans for implementation. This has created a staff of teachers that do not submit their plans because they know nothing is being done with them. I feel the same can happen in the classroom. If a teacher is not knowledgeable enough to utilize technology in the classroom, or is not comfortable when utilizing technology in the classroom, the students may suffer.
    Professional development for all staff members, is therefore a critical area that needs to be addressed. If the district is implementing a digital lesson plan format, then the staff member responsible for approving these plans must have the knowledge background to perform their job duties. When all staff is provided the training and the resources necessary, this digital divide can start to be minimized and more learning opportunities can become available.

    References:
    Picciano, A. (2011). Educational Leadership and Planning for Technology. Boston: Pearson.
    Sheninger, E. (2014). Digital leadership: Changing paradigms for changing times. Thousand

    Oaks, CA: Corwin.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Shawn, thanks for your comments. If you want to learn more about the digital divide in children 0-8, check out this research conducted by Common Sense Media: https://www.commonsensemedia.org/research/zero-to-eight-childrens-media-use-in-america-2013

      References

      Common Sense Media. (2013). Zero to eight: Children’s media use in America 2013. Retrieved
      from: https://www.commonsensemedia.org/research/zero-to-eight-childrens-media-use-in-america-2013

      Delete
  2. Hi Ashley.
    I enjoyed reading your post. I too thought at one point that I was not a leader because I did not have an administrative position but learned that we are leaders within our classroom. I am in my seventh year of teaching and we too have seen a number of “initiatives” as well. I too have observed educators complaining about the latest initiatives. I have even complained about some of the latest initiatives. Most of the time, I believe the comments are valid and are based on the needs of our students.
    I agree that as leaders it is important for leaders to model what is expected. According to Sheninger (2014), principals must effectively and consistently model the use of the same technology tools they expect teachers to use in their classrooms with the students” (p. 42). Further, we learn from this week’s reading that “principals should also provide appropriate professional development time and resources to support effective classroom implementation of technology” (Sheninger, 2014, p. 42). With that being said, in order to implement any initiative made towards successfully integrating technology, it starts with the school leader. This is the same for us as classroom teachers. When we present new material to our students we must present it in a manner that excites our students otherwise they too will have tons of negative responses. I am sure that many of our leaders want to complain about the latest but know that it is important for them to be a model to the staff. Philippians 2:14 states that we are to do “all things without complaining and disputing.” This is something that I have to remind myself of.
    I think that’s a great idea to have an instructional coach. This is something that I believe all schools should have. It is just unfortunate that with budget cuts these positions are the first ones to go. WE have a reading and math interventionists but their position is quite different from the position you described. It makes sense to have an instructional coaches in the school building. We as educators are always being evaluated and observed yet we only receive feedback on our lesson plans. What is expected from us as teachers is never modeled yet we could not be effective teachers if we never modeled what is expected from our students.
    I wish you the best in receiving an instructional technology specialist position.

    Reference:
    Sheninger, E. (2014). Digital leadership: Changing paradigms for changing times. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Crystal, thanks for your encouragement and comments. I especially appreciate you reminding me that I am already a school leader. And anytime I heed Philippians 2:14, I am following Christ's model and demonstrating Christian leadership, as well. Thanks again for your great response!

      Delete
  3. Hi Ashley.
    I enjoyed reading your post. I too thought at one point that I was not a leader because I did not have an administrative position but learned that we are leaders within our classroom. I am in my seventh year of teaching and we too have seen a number of “initiatives” as well. I too have observed educators complaining about the latest initiatives. I have even complained about some of the latest initiatives. Most of the time, I believe the comments are valid and are based on the needs of our students.
    I agree that as leaders it is important for leaders to model what is expected. According to Sheninger (2014), principals must effectively and consistently model the use of the same technology tools they expect teachers to use in their classrooms with the students” (p. 42). Further, we learn from this week’s reading that “principals should also provide appropriate professional development time and resources to support effective classroom implementation of technology” (Sheninger, 2014, p. 42). With that being said, in order to implement any initiative made towards successfully integrating technology, it starts with the school leader. This is the same for us as classroom teachers. When we present new material to our students we must present it in a manner that excites our students otherwise they too will have tons of negative responses. I am sure that many of our leaders want to complain about the latest but know that it is important for them to be a model to the staff. Philippians 2:14 states that we are to do “all things without complaining and disputing.” This is something that I have to remind myself of.
    I think that’s a great idea to have an instructional coach. This is something that I believe all schools should have. It is just unfortunate that with budget cuts these positions are the first ones to go. WE have a reading and math interventionists but their position is quite different from the position you described. It makes sense to have an instructional coaches in the school building. We as educators are always being evaluated and observed yet we only receive feedback on our lesson plans. What is expected from us as teachers is never modeled yet we could not be effective teachers if we never modeled what is expected from our students.
    I wish you the best in receiving an instructional technology specialist position.

    Reference:
    Sheninger, E. (2014). Digital leadership: Changing paradigms for changing times. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Ashley:
    I first want to encourage you that if God has laid on your heart the desire to be in a technology leadership position one day, to continue to be faithful where you are. God often blesses our faithfulness in the small stuff by expanding our borders to include more responsibility.
    I agree with what you posted about leaders modeling the behaviors that they want their employees to follow. I often model the behaviors that I want my students to follow, especially when teaching new material. So it would only make sense that an administrator would model the behavior that he/she wants their employees to follow. Employees are also more willing to follow an administrator’s lead, if they see them willing to do what they are asking others to do. Leading by example is very effective in implementing change. The example of Dr. Spike Cook given in our textbook, effectively shows the results of modeling change and helping usher teachers into the changes that you want to see happen in the classroom.
    References:
    Sheninger, E. (2014). Digital leadership. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much for the encouragement Emily! I, too, model behaviors for my students, as well as strategies that I want them to utilize to increase their learning. I agree that Sheninger's (2014) case of Dr. Spike Cook is a wonderful example or "model" for initiating change in the classroom.

      Reference:

      Sheninger, E. (2014). Digital leadership: Changing paradigms for changing times. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

      Delete

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