What Every School Leader Should Consider When Implementing Technology

The modern age has moved us beyond demonizing technology and into creating with technology. Technology is affecting how students learn, how teachers teach, and how we communicate with each other. All too often, however, teachers are still using the same old bag of tricks in the classroom that they have always used. Leaders of these schools will face challenges. In this post, I hope to get you to think ahead of these potential roadblocks…

via Laurie Sullivan @ Flickr Creative Commons

via Laurie Sullivan @ Flickr Creative Commons

I’m currently beginning my third year as Principal of Orleans Elementary School. We’ve taken big steps technologically during this short time period in our understanding of tech in the classroom, of the strategies to use, and in our infrastructure.

As we look into the future of our building, our team has put lots of consideration into minimizing anything that could potentially disrupt the momentum we have gathered thus far. These are just a few considerations for leaders who are implementing more technology into their own buildings:

  1. Model it regularly and passionately. Most teachers are doing the best they know to do. Unless they see some other way of doing things, they will continue to do things the way they are most familiar. Be the example and show them an alternative.
  2. Set a direction, but don’t mandate its use. The main reason for this is that teachers are inherently creative. You’ll box them in by creating mandates. Cast your vision then give them room to play and think. I guarantee that they will come up with things you would have never dreamed.
  3. Don’t give tools without training. I learned this when we gave projectors to every teacher and a couple of them requested professional development to hook them up. It was literally two cords. Don’t ever assume they will “figure it out”. At the very least, sit down with them and listen to their fears and concerns, then address them as best as you can.
  4. Allow your techie teachers to carry the banner. Every educator has a group of respected colleagues to look to for ideas. Let those teachers who are most tech savvy help lead this change. This way, it becomes the teachers’ idea, not yours.
  5. Find hardware/software that will benefit the teacher AND the student. Teachers must see a tool that makes their job easier and that fits their lesson like a hand in a glove. Your best teacher is most concerned with what is best for students. But deep down, and they even feel guilty for admitting it, he/she also prefers to use tools that have a benefit for him/herself.

If you think ahead about these issues, you’ll face a lot less resistance from your staff. Potentially, it could be the difference between a successful rollout to a tragic mistake. Give it plenty of thought and discuss it with a team of teachers. They will give you insight you hadn’t considered before.

Question: What other tips would you give to a school leader who is trying to implement more technology in the school building?

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