It's time for a new approach. For over a decade now we have been focused on the same expectations: Principals Must Model Technology or Teachers Need Extensive Training In Technology Integration...etc. Every day I read terrific posts such as All Principals Should Be Tech Savvy, by Lyn Hilt or Isn't Being Tech Savvy Just Part Of Our Job by Patrick Larkin or This Is Not An Option Anymore by George Couros. It's time for instructional leaders to create discomfort and stretch our teachers to their highest potential. This new approach begins with the principal.
It is not important that principals master the latest toys and gadgets as long as they become knowledgeable about the best ways to use these tools to enhance instruction. This is no longer the case! An effective principal must understand problems and difficulties that may arise and know how to quickly fix it. If you promote it, you must know, understand, and definitely have used it!
Principals need to Model! Model! Model! This is no longer enough! Principals must set specific expectations for technology integration along with an action plan. Principals, as instructional leaders, must be present in the classroom to provide hands-on support for teachers who are using a tool for the first time. It is important to eliminate any frustration and to ensure a pleasant experience so that the teacher will be more apt to use these tools more frequently.
Teachers must be offered extensive opportunities to learn how to employ technologies that will support student learning. For over a decade now, we have been providing much professional development in the area of technology integration in hopes teachers will get on board. Yet, many teachers still feel as if they have an option and choose not to change. The best way to learn is to take action. Put teachers in situations in which they must learn. Begin “Tech Tuesdays” in which different teachers lead sessions before or after school for 30 minutes. Create a blog or wiki to share best practices. Require teachers to submit and share at least two comments a week. The fact is, we can no longer attend professional development five days a year and cross our fingers and hope that each teacher will utilize technology.
What if we were to step into New Milford High School in New Jersey, you would probably leave inspired to initiate innovative tools in your instructional practice because of the effective leadership of Eric Sheninger.? He's doing more than modeling!
What if we were to head over to Plymouth North High School in Massachusetts. You would find Bill Burkhead following the latest technological trends and what sets his leadership apart from others is that he takes action by basing these trends on the schools' core values.
What if we headed down to North Carolina to check out the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools. You will find Steven Anderson in action working and pushing teachers on how to harness the power of technology. He's not talking about it, he's showing them how!
And finally, with enough gas in the tank, let's make a quick stop over in Missouri to check out the Poplar Bluff Mules. There you will find Justin Tarte, a new, dynamic leader who already has created a formalized plan of action on how he will create a picture of what's possible with the use of technology.
It is time to do more than model! We must do more than talk about it! We must do more than give teachers extensive training! We must unleash our leadership skills and make technology non-negotiable! There are many examples as the one's I have mentioned, along with Lyn Hilt, Patrick Larkin, and George Couros, who are getting it done. It's not an option any longer because it's what's best for our students. Can you imagine a time when we must provide extensive technological training to our students so that they can stay up with our tech savvy teachers?