Leadership Day 2014: Creating Successful Technology Initiatives

“The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low and achieving our mark.”  Michelangelo

With a new school year quickly approaching many school administrators are getting ready to work with students, teachers, and parents. The biggest challenge for any school leader is to remember that it’s very easy to be a manager but much more difficult to be a leader ~  especially when it comes to trying to getting teachers to embed technology into their daily teaching practice to enhance student learning and creativity.

As a recently retired school principal I’ve been involved with many technology initiatives since the early 80’s ~ some successful and some not so much. What makes some projects succeed and others fail? I believe that it all comes down to the professional development that we give teachers and how we lead in our schools.

Do we empower our teachers and students to play with technology and allow them to go with their passions? Or do we spend more time debating which device to buy or making sure that everything is locked down so those ‘darn’ teachers and students can’t really do anything remotely creative with the technology?

Do we attend and take part in ALL the professional development activities with our teachers? Or do we introduce the speaker, take attendance, and go back to our office to do stuff a principal does?

I can go on and on but you get the point :)

A principal (or teacher) becomes a leader by empowering those around him to do bigger and better things for the students in their school. A principal becomes a leader by creating a climate of collaboration and cooperation where the primary goal is to empower all staff to develop a vision for themselves and their students. Each school is different and school culture must be carefully nurtured with a focus on caring, teaching and learning.

How does one do this? It’s the easiest and most difficult thing you’ll ever do as an administrator ~ be yourself, trust your teachers and students. Model technology use by using it daily. Model technology by being a good digital citizen. Model technology by talking about it with your students, teachers and parents.

Where does one start? There are dozens and dozens of resources out there but I suggest you pick one of the following books, buy a copy  for yourself and for the staff, start discussions on the book and how you use technology in your school.

For you and the staff:

Stratosphere by Michael Fullan  ~ approximately 100 pages and probably one of the best books I’ve read in the past year. It deals with technology, pedagogy, and systemic change.

Who Owns The Learning by Alan November ~ another quick read of approximately 100 pages. This will really spark staff discussions around technology.

For you:

The Principal: Three Keys to Maximizing Impact by Micahel Fullan ~ Fullan’s latest book written specifically for principals where he talks about some of the things I’ve mentionned more eloquently than I ever could.

Technology Together: Whole School Professional Development for Capability and Confidence by Renata Phelps and Anne Graham ~ best book on developing a professional development plan around technology comes with a great website with many many resources.

Edtechteacher  has many resources to help you conduct PD with your staff around technology. They really get how to do PD with teachers and they share the resources they use in their workshops with you, FOR FREE.

So as you prepare to go back to school pick one of the resources, enjoy the read and more importantly try some of the things they suggest!! Have a great school year! 

It’s Time To End The Device Debate

I just read a great article on Edudemic by Patrick Larkin on whether Chromebooks or iPads are better suited for the classroom and I posted the following comment:

Too much time and energy is wasted debating the merits of one device over another. At Lester B. Pearson School Board we allow the schools to choose Chromebooks and/or iPads based on their needs. We have learned that the most important factor in determining the success or failure of any technology initiative is the amount of time devoted to the teacher's professional development. The PD should focus on how to use the technology (regardless of the platform)to transform teaching and learning. If one thinks of Chromebooks and iPads are "portable media creation devices" (EdTech Teacher) then one can plan the PD on the 4 C's consumption (digital citizenship), curation, communication and mostly importantly creation. This summer’s LBP EdTech Institute was built with this philosophy in mind

In an ideal world I would want kids and teacher using both platforms depending on what needs to be accomplished.

© Sam Bruzzese 2022