After a long weekend, I thought I would sign on tonight and just read through everything on my Bloglines. No time to write, just read what everyone else is thinking about as school begins. And of course there was a Will Richardson post on Weblogg-ed.com that got me thinking and then responding.

Will writes about technology integration, “I agree that there is a de facto irrelevance (whether we say we see the need for technology or not) if the people in leadership positions aren’t walking the walk and using technology as a part of their practice. I think of Tim Lauer and Tim Tyson who lead by example, and how rare that is when it comes to technology in schools. But is that only going to be solved when new, younger, technology facile leaders emerge?”

As one of those school leaders, I’m trying to walk the walk. I’m learning as I go and trying to stay relevant and in tune with everything new. I’m frustrated by spam,time constraints on my own ability to manage blogging, and by my inexperience with a lot of the techie “stuff”. I can’t even get the stinking link tool that Will showed me to work so that I can link his name to his site. But I’m trying, I’m out there, and I’m working at it.

This is much the same way as when I tried new strategies and worked at my teaching, experimenting with new ideas to determine if they engaged my students and helped them to own content. My “leaders” didn’t necessarily model it, they didn’t try it first, they may not have even heard about it. What did they do? My principals and superintendent supported me in my efforts. They trusted me to work hard, to have the best interest of my students at heart, to do my best and to get good results. They provided me with professional growth opportunities, listened to my ideas, and told me to “go for it“.

That’s the role of principals as leaders in technology integration too. If teachers want to try something, if they learn of a new idea, if they want to blog with their students, whatever, they darn sure better not sit around and wait for a leader to model it. That’s a cop out. If teachers have good ideas and work hard and have the best interest of their students at heart, their principals will most likely support them. Teachers need to step up and take the initiative and own the responsibility of technology integration.

It’s much easier for teachers to get support for a good idea from a principal than for a principal to move a building of teachers. Guess what else? Other teachers will be much more likely to follow the lead of the best teachers than to follow the directive of a principal. Teachers need to lead by example and principals need to support good ideas, get out of the way, and watch them work. And yeah, we need to keep learning and growing and leading too. It takes both to make it work. But hey, I’ve never been very good at waiting around for anyone else to take the responsibility for my growth. That’s my responsibility. 



  1.   Kimberly says :

    Great feedback Angie. I did a similar job to yours for about four months at the start of my administrative career. It is the best model for meeting teachers where they are and helping them to integrate technology that fits for them. What you describe in your comment about teaching the students the technology pieces with the teacher is ideal. Thank you for reminding me of this model.

  2.   Angie says :

    Kim:
    I’ve been following your blog and love your comments. While I’m not in an administrative role (I’m a school librarian), my brother is and I’ve passed your stuff along to him whenever I can. Plus, I’m trying to get my adminstrators to read your posts. Anyway…
    I thought this post was rather interesting because one of my jobs is as tech liasion to our building. Basically, in this role I assist teachers in finding ways to integrate technology into their classrooms. I also do training sessions and assist in any way in finding new technology and the like. The biggest complaint I get as not who is responsible, but finding the time to integrate. What a lot of people don’t realize is that while initially time may be a factor, the pay off is big. Students will want to participate more in class and come to class (two big issues in our school right now). Furthermore, once the technology is in place it can make some aspects of the job easier. The next big complaint that I hear is that teachers don’t have the time to learn all the ins and out. Will Richardson (I believe) has mentioned that sometimes it is best not to know how the technology runs in the background, but just how to use it. This is why I offer training sessions. But often what teachers overlook is that students can help teach others and so can maybe other teachers in the building. If they have a free period and would be willing. Talk to colleagues and see how they approach teaching kids. In my role, I can come to a class and teach the kids initially if the teacher doesn’t feel comfortable. Maybe look at having a tech liasion in your building. It is a very interesting concept. Angie

  3.   Kimberly says :

    Great ideas Nicole, wish you worked at our school, you’d love my computer teacher who’s started a blog for her students without much provocation at all. I’ve been thinking about a post about her. Also, my fourteen year old is a comic book aficionado and would LOVE to take your course. Thanks for the great comment–wish you had a blog where I could read more like this.

    Kimberly

  4.   nicole says :

    Hi Kim,

    First things first, this blog site rocks. You are sharing thoughts about subjects that should be coming from an administrator. It’s nice to read thoughts from someone who is honest about their concerns/ideas, always looking to learn and move forward…with the teachers. If only all teachers could be guided by an admin. like you.

    I want to comment on technology in schools. I teach a Media Art class (HS) and have amazing success! I’m very fortunate to have an amazing computer lab with 25 eMacs loaded with the best software. However, it didn’t start out that way. I had to beg, plead and PROVE that my program/students were taking away an amazing amount of information, not only artistically but integratively. My students learn to be “Mac friendly”, which is the BEST computer for graphics and can be used for business too! Photoshop CSX and PowerPoint are the focus of my course and the students actually create art using these programs as well as using creative writing strategies to tell stories through the digital imagery they create. Don’t get me wrong, they still have to draw, but the majority of the course is focused on the digital. My students are often quite computer savvy when they get there and often show me a thing or two. If we can’t learn from each other than we aren’t really teachers.

    A suggestion for Carol’s response (above) is to not necessarily use a blog with your students but to integrate technology in other ways…like going to the library to search for info./imagery via the Internet, or using a computer lab to experiment with image making. I’m not sure what level/subject Carol teaches but kids are great “teacher’s helpers” when it comes to computers. Maybe have them be “teacher for a day” by demonstrating something they can do. I have partnered with an English teacher to combine digital imagery with storytelling. One day I go into his class and he comes to mine on another. It’s always a little less intimidating when you have someone to throw ideas off of by working together. Good Luck!

  5.   Maddy says :

    Good thinking, Kim. I, too, am fumbling with this new technology every day. I am in an administrative position and doing my best to find ways for this to be used with kids and colleagues alike.

    Carol,
    There are wonderful blogs out there to demonstrate how to do this with kids. I particularly like the class scribe in math class. Look at this kid’s notes.

    http://pc30s.blogspot.com/2005/12/scribe-48-i-think-nah-make-it-50.html

    I also like what one high school teacher did with his kids this summer.

    http://andiinsanity.blogspot.com/

    And this…

    http://www.ahistoryteacher.com/holocaust/tiki-index.php

    And this…

    http://central.hcrhs.k12.nj.us/cil/
    Okay, I will stop now. My colleague has found these sites and more, so I can not take full credit. I had to share them when she shared them with me yesterday!

    Enjoy!

  6.   Kevin Jarrett says :

    Hi Kimberly,

    The good folks here at EduBlogs.org should have enabled Akismet for you (or perhaps instructed you on how to do so – I am not exactly sure how site admin is handled with EduBlogs. Akismet is WONDERFUL and does a very efficient job dealing with most spam. If you already have Akismet turned on, you may want to ask the EduBlogs support folks about this plugin:

    http://www.sebbi.de/archives/2005/10/31/spam-karma-2-akismet-plugin-beta/

    Which I use with great success, in combination with Akismet. I currently have 315 comments (about a day’s worth) in the “spam bucket” for my blog, and they are automatically deleted. With SK2 and Akismet, I can clearly see false positives, and still have the blog “wide open” for people to comment. It’s glorious.

    It may not be possible for you to have/use this plugin since you are using EduBlogs (a wonderful, FREE, hosted WP provider) … but when you are ready, moving to your own server is easier than you think. I have two WP blogs (one personal, one school [above]) and also manage about a dozen other WP blogs for my school.

    Let me know if you need more info!

    -kj-

  7.   Carol says :

    I have enjoyed reading and responding to your blog.I am not a techie and some of my collegues would lovingly chuckle at my inadequacy in using the computer. Like students we, teachers, want a model, want that direction and boundaries.
    Perhaps taking the teachers that you think can lead by example, or the teachers who are really interested and train them on this new age technology. They then can do as you said, lead! I must admit that I am a little confused as to how I can use this in the classroom. Realistically, our mac lab doesn’t contain enough computers for my students when we are in there working. There are no computers in our classrooms. I see the benefit of setting up a blog for me personally as a teacher to reap the benefits of excellent teachers everywhere. But, how exactly is it to be used in the classroom?