Driving Change as Technology Leaders

Thursday, June 4, 2015
Sheninger (2014) proposes six factors to driving change in your school: connectedness, vision, value, support, professional development, and embracement. At my school, we put a huge emphasis on collaboration, both for our students and ourselves. Collaboration is one of our district’s three priorities, and we do a great job of promoting it and employing it. However, connectedness is not a strength. While I first heard of using Twitter for professional development almost 2 years ago, my district has not quite made that transition. I just started using Twitter for this course, and now I’m hooked. Utilizing Twitter for ongoing professional development is something that I can certainly propose as technology leader.


 In my district, the areas of vision and value are accomplished very well (Sheninger, 2014). The technology plan committee consists of educators in a variety of positions in the district to contribute to creating a shared vision for all schools. The committee realizes what Sheninger (2014) maintains: “The true value of technology rests on how it is used to support learning and create experiences that students find meaningful and relevant” (p. 65). In a recent discussion about the need for new technology being purchased for our classrooms, our technology leader reminded us that the committee must first know that it is going to be used for instructional purposes before the new technology would be furnished. And to that end, we are working hard to have students use technology to engage, create, apply, and demonstrate (Sheninger, 2014).

While we thrive in the areas of vision and value, we are lacking in the areas of support and professional development (Sheninger, 2014). I have two desktops in my classroom that are older than my second grade students and have been without an iPad for months. Wireless access is spotty in some areas of the building, and while we do have a dedicated technician at our school, issues are not always handled in a timely manner. As a technology leader, I would suggest that teachers have appropriate technology to ensure that they are able integrate it in their instruction.


Likewise, the professional development model being used for integrating technology is not quite meeting the needs of our teachers. The district is using a “train the trainer” model, which Jones (2007) suggests leads to more successful professional development. But we are too often bombarded with too much information at once, or are asked to employ a variety of strategies in too short a time frame. Both Jones (2007) and Sheninger (2014) suggest giving teachers ample time to learn how to utilize tools and implement strategies that they’ve learned. As a technology leader, I would recommend sharing only one or two strategies with teachers at a time, and then making sure they have mastered those before proposing new strategies to incorporate.

Finally, Sheninger’s (2014) factor of embracement is not an element of technology integration in our district becasue our teacher evaluations, based on district mandates, require technology be used in our instruction. This gets frustrating when the factors of support and professional development are not being adequately met. Sheninger (2014) suggests “embracement is attained through empowerment and autonomy” (p. 67). As a technology leader, I would propose that providing more support and quality professional development will lead to empowerment, and giving educators “time and flexibility” will lead to autonomy(Sheninger, 2014, p. 67), resulting in teachers embracing integrating technology in their instruction.

While all of Sheninger’s (2014) suggestions are great, how do we as technology leaders measure the success of technology integration? Gosmire and Grady (2007) suggest the following: “To determine whether technology has been effective, data must be collected— and not just any data, but data that are related to the goals and objectives of the technology plan” (p. 20). Gosmire and Grady (2007) advise using formative assessment for ongoing feedback and summative assessment to collect data over a number of years. Information from the assessments could be used to ascertain whether our efforts of “driving change” are successful.


References

Gosmire, D., & Grady, M. L. (2007). A bumpy road: Principal as technology leader. Principal

Leadership, 7(6), 16-21. Retrieved from: http://www.nassp.org/Portals/0/Content/

55193.pdf

Jones, E. (2007). Strategies to put instruction ahead of technology. Principal Leadership, 7(6),


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


Oaks, CA: Corwin.

12 comments:

  1. The question that you raise at the end of your post, How do we measure the effectiveness of technology?, is one area that I feel is lacking in the implementation of technology. I think that too often schools want to boast about the amount of technology that a school has, every classroom has a SMART board, or every student has a laptop, but are we really looking into how these technologies are being implemented…are we looking at data to see if student learning is increasing, or are we merely adding technology to our classrooms so that we can check that off the list of things to do.
    You also touch on another very important concern with technology implementation, and that is time. Eric Sheninger in his book Digital Leadership, gives the idea of a Professional Growth Period. This growth period “resulted in giving (his) staff the time and flexibility to learn how to integrate the tools that they were interested in” (2014, p.67). In a 2001 study by Jan Turnbill, it was found that the biggest deterrent to teachers using computers in their classrooms was a lack of time. It takes time to be familiar with the technology and also time to implement the technology into the current classroom structure.
    In my own experience I also think that lack of technology support is also a big deterrent to implementing the changes needed. Nothing is more frustrating than having a lesson prepared to teach using the internet, only to have the internet be down. After once or twice of this happening I am much less likely to use it in the future. Sheninger also points out that “another essential support structure is removing the fear of failure and encouraging a risk-taking environment that fuels innovation” (2014, p.66). Part of support is creating an environment where teachers are rewarded for their attempts not just for the final outcomes. I often tell my students that sometimes we learn best when we make mistakes!
    References:
    Sheninger, E (2014). Digital leadership. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

    Turbill, J. (2001). A researcher goes to school: Using technology in the kindergarten literacy curriculum. Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, 1(3), 255-279. doi: 10.1177/14687984010013002

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    1. Thanks for your response, Emily! I appreciate your feedback!

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  2. Ashley,

    Excellent post on the six factors Sheninger (2014) mentions drive change: connectedness, vision, value, support, professional development, and embracement. Unfortunately, as you mentioned with your school, many schools do not implement each of these and sometimes even if they are being implemented they are not being implemented effectively.

    Connectedness is very important in building positive peer relationships even among staff members. With collaboration this can be accomplished. In my school, we discuss collaboration at almost every meeting, but in reality there is very little collaboration throughout my school. As a special education teacher, it makes it very difficult for me to be as effective as I could be since my general education teachers struggle to share with me. Many times I am not able to even have a set of the lesson plans that are being used so that I can differentiate them for my students. I rely solely on the district pacing guides but there have been times that the teacher is not at the correct pace due to students needing extra time in certain areas.

    Sheninger (2014) maintains: “The true value of technology rests on how it is used to support learning and create experiences that students find meaningful and relevant” (p. 65). Many schools have technology including SMART boards, iPads, and desk tops, but they are not being implemented for instructional purposes. Teachers need to have training, just as our students do, in how to effectively use technology for teaching and learning. Students should use technology to create, engage, apply, and demonstrate (Sheninger, 2014) what they are learning.

    Sheninger (2014) also suggests “embracement is attained through empowerment and autonomy” (p. 67). Leaders of technology need to ensure they are providing sufficient support and quality professional development in order to promote empowerment and to all the “time and flexibility” that will lead to autonomy (Sheninger, 2014, p. 67). This will allow teachers to be more encouraged, more knowledgeable, and more willing to implement technology into daily lesson to promote teaching and learning.

    References:

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

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Shawn! I appreciate your feedback. At my school, we have great relationship with our special education teachers. Our resource teacher actually meets with the second grade weekly to see where we are at. Just something as simple as a teacher sharing his or her weekly newsletter or lesson plans (via Google Drive for instance) may improve your ability to differentiate grade-level skills for your students!

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  3. Hi Ashley!

    I enjoyed reading your post this week. You gave a very thorough description of the six elements that drive change and some very insightful experiences to support them. One area that I think was interesting that you mentioned was vision and value, and how your particular school excelled in those areas. In turn, you mentioned that your school does not do as well with professional development and support. I have done a lot of research and professional development because it is a great interest of mine. These two areas that you have mentioned that your school is delinquent in our two areas of concern that many schools are faced with. Green and Brown (2009) reported that within a survey they completed, 43.7% of faculty complained about the lack of administrative support in their school system. I think that, often times, administrators do not realize the complexity of technology and how to effectively use it within the classroom. Therefore, they may not know how to support their faculty in the changes that need to occur in order to effectively implement technology into the classroom. That being said, there is also probably not a push for or an appreciation for quality professional development programs. “The most significant influence on the evolution of virtual learning will not be in the technical development of more powerful devices, but the professional development of wise designers, educators, and learners (Johnson et al., 2012, p.66). As we are learning through our own projects in 633 right now, instructional design of courses is extremely complex. My own group is doing professional development and it is amazing how many components have to be included in the quality course. Time constraints and budgetary restrictions prevent those professional development from being the quality that our teachers need. Thank you for your post, and thanks for being such a great group member! I am enjoying our group very much!


    References:

    Green, T., Alejandro, J., & Brown, A. (2009). The retention of experienced faculty in online distance
    education programs: Understanding factors that impact their involvement. International
    Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 10(3), 1-15.

    Johnson, T., Wisniewski, M., Kuhlemeyer, G., Isaacs, G., & Krzykowski, J. (2012). Technology adoption in higher education: Overcoming anxiety through faculty bootcamp. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 16(2), 63-72.

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    1. Thanks for your response, Amanda. I enjoyed reading your reaction to my post. I agree that we have a great group!

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  4. I also wrote about Sheninger’s six elements that drive change. While my school and district does promote professional development, it is not the best at spending the money to update equipment. I also have extremely out of date desktops and laptops that my students use. Most of the time the wireless internet does not work or they are unable to log on due to a network error. I also have an IPad for use in the classroom but was told there was no power cord so the device is useless. My teacher laptop has also seen better days as it takes twenty minutes to completely turn on and will not hold a charge/charge using the power cord. With such a drive to continue to be better and to create students that are career and college ready (which is a push for North Carolina), we should have up to date and well working equipment at all times. Now as far as professional development is concerned, the school will send various grade levels to different workshops, seminars, etc. These teachers are responsible for showing either the entire school or their specific grade level the information that was gathered. While I think it is great to promote more in house professional developments such as this, I know that I am not always able to fully answer questions that others have and I feel very rushed in presenting the information. I agree with you that teachers should be taught one or two strategies at a time to allow mastery before being taught more strategies. I would add that ample time in the classroom be provided as well to show mastery in using that strategy with the students. Just like teachers should not be bombarded with lots of information at one time, students would benefit from this gradual release as well.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for your comments, Julia. Sometimes it's nice to know that we aren't the only ones going through something!

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  5. Hi Ashley.
    I enjoyed reading your post. The one thing that I enjoy about reading everyone’s discussion board post is learning about what other schools have and do that contributes to their success. II have only been teaching for seven years but one day I do believe that I will be a leader and I think it is good hear about what works well at other schools and what does not work well.
    On another note, I enjoyed reading about the six factors to driving change. It required me to reflect on what factors are strengths for my school and what factors do we need to continue to work on. My school also puts a great amount of emphasis on collaboration. I believe that collaboration is a strength for my school. One area that I thought we could improve on as well was connectedness. We learn from our reading that technology leaders should use a variety of technology tools including social media in order to truly benefit (Sheninger, 2014).
    In my classroom, in fact in all of the classrooms in my school, each teacher is given two computers. Now while they are not outdated, our classroom sizes are over 25 students per class. Students are not able to use the computers that often because there just isn’t enough resources. We also have iPads in our school however they are linked to one teacher (all 11 of them). Therefore, if you do not co-teach with that teacher, then you are and your students are not able to use them. I as many other teachers in the building do not have a wealth of iPad mini lesson ideas because we aren’t able to use them like we would like to. We do have weekly professional development which was a great idea but often it is on a subject that some of us do not teach. I still find it valuable to sit in because I believe it is important for teachers to continue to develop professionally. It strengthens our skills and knowledge especially with the many changes in our curriculum.
    The bible tells us that with change, we should not be worried but to pray about everything. Philippians 4:6-7. As aspiring educational leaders in an evolving world, we must seek God first, and remember to pray.

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

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    Replies
    1. Crystal, I also enjoy learning about other schools and districts, and how other teachers respond to their various environments. Thanks for sharing your experience!

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  6. It is very important to talk about the types of people that should be involved in a technology committee. I really like that you use Sheninger (2014) “The true value of technology rests on how it is used to support learning and create experiences that students find meaningful and relevant” (p. 65). Relevance is a big struggle in a lot of committees at my current school. It usually has nothing to do with the skill set of individuals, but more favorites. A good committee should have many skills and assets to bring to the table. In a large school it should contain individuals from all content areas and grade levels.
    I an article by Süleyman (2014) autonomy can be evaluated as a school and then a large data set was provided for understanding. If you look at the data the numbers show that people are not picked based on equality, but more on maturity level of the administration. When the administration of a school is mature and knowledgeable on staff they can make more educated placement of the faculty in their building. This would cause better committee placement.
    I believe that if the data sets are correct and then the issue with training the trainer would be resolved as well. Administration can look at what the school has and communicate that to committees to get a better result on training. They can also focus training more on needs and no look at the lowest technology enhanced person in the building.


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


    Oaks, CA: Corwin.
    Süleyman, G. (2014). To what extent should schools be autonomous? Educational Research and Reviews, 9(1), 24-33. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.5897/ERR2013.1679

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the comments, Casey. I appreciate you sharing the Suleyman article!

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