In an era where new education technologies are introduced daily, school leaders must be knowledgeable about the tools that teachers and students use to learn. Too often teachers are learning about new tools, becoming passionate about how they can transform learning, and bringing ideas back to their leadership. It should be the other way around. Teachers are doing too much of the the heavy lifting when it comes to technology. Leaders should be equally informed and engaged with EdTech.
Leaders often rely on those go-to teachers to seek out new tools and platforms, try them, and implement them in their classroom. If it seems to be working the leader may agree to purchasing and implementing the tool. At the end of the day, leaders have the purchasing power for acquiring new technologies and supporting their implementation- but they are often not the person in the building who has the most knowledge of the product or program.
I get it. And I am guilty. I am writing this as someone who did not always do a great job keeping up. Once I left the classroom EdTech became harder to experiment with and learn. New EdTech comes so quickly and as a leader there are so many other responsibilities to juggle. It’s a crowded and busy space to keep up with.
Teachers should not have to be the technology leaders in their schools. It should not be their job to evaluate technologies and lobby for resources they need in the classroom. If they do find a new technology leaders should learn the tool, do as much as they can to support teachers, and make decisions about how technology fits into the vision and goals of the school.
If leaders are able to outsource this area to the technology department, a coach, or a lead teacher then they will probably do it in order to create space for parent relationships, discipline, hiring, facilities management and the many many other responsibilities of a school principal. It is so important that we don’t see technology as an additional area of work and we see it as integral to all of the work in schools today.
The following actions can help leaders remain involved and informed of educational technology.
1. Get training on your admin dashboard. The first thing you should do when you acquire a technology for your school is to get trained on the dashboards or admin views that can help you see engagement. This can help you see great info like which teachers are using it, how students are engaging with it, and how parents are accessing it. This can be great data in determining which tools to stick with and which to ditch.
2. Attend the teacher training at least once. You don’t have to go into the deeper levels of the tool but you should get comfortable with what the teacher is doing. It’s also a great way to gauge reactions to the tool and give you a heads up on who may be a leader and able to teach others.
3. Attend a tech conference. A one-day EdCamp can teach you more about new technologies than a four day leadership conference. See what teachers are excited about. Or just follow the conference on Twitter. You’ll notice emerging technologies that may be worth looking into.
4. Get curious. Follow EdTech leaders on Twitter and experiment with tech that intrigues you. Subscribe to EdSurge. You may stumble on something that could support your teachers or fellow leaders.
We have to do better. There isn’t any time and there is never enough money. But that’s not an excuse to disengage in the technology that is driving the future of learning. If teachers are passionate about a new technology leaders should do their best to learn it and empower them to use it and teach others. Conversations about technology should be collaborative and lateral- with teachers and leaders making decisions together with students at the center. Technology should be evaluated regularly and connected to school and district goals. Teachers should be involved in the acquisition of new technology but should not shoulder the necessary leadership for its success. With teachers and leaders both learning new EdTech and leading together, learners will ultimately benefit.
Education careers are tough. These entries are dedicated to making the lives of educators easier and empowering those who have chosen this path to reach their potential in work and life.