I spent yesterday with technology integrationists from the various Educational Service Units in Nebraska. In my experience, technology integrationists usually are wonderful people who know a lot about digital societal shifts and effective technology usage in the classroom. What they don't necessarily know, however, is how to foster system-level change themselves and/or help school leaders do so.
Here's what I think technology integrationists can do to assist their principals and superintendents:
- Administrators are unknowledgeable, not evil. Recognize that most of them are dedicated educators who want to do the right thing but may not have the necessary knowledge base or skill sets.
- The world has changed. Help them see the big picture: the larger, deeper societal shifts and transformations that form the external context within which schools are operating.
- We need to keep up. Help them see that the larger context is a desirable and/or inevitable destination for school systems generally and for their school organization specifically.
- We're not keeping up. Help them see that the school system's not where it should be in regard to the big picture. Create cognitive disconnects for them between their school organization's status quo and the desired destination.
- Facilitate success. Help them gain the knowledge, skills, and tools necessary to move toward the desired destination.
- Rebut the naysayers. Help them counteract the inevitable yabbuts ("Yeah, but..."; "Yeah, but...").
- Rinse and repeat. Do this over and over again until they, you, and the system win.
The folks I worked with yesterday stated that they generally weren't paying enough attention to #2, 3, 4, or 6. Their typical approach was to tout the benefits and wonders of and to try to train administrators how to use various digital technologies without sufficiently addressing the other aspects listed above. They also noted that the time they did spend working with administrators was focused too much on tool training and that they needed to spend more time on broader technology leadership issues.
Of course this model is applicable to other educators too, not just administrators. What do you think?