Monday, April 16, 2012

Technology and Leadership - Modeling the "Cool"

Teaching the iGeneration is a workshop where teachers and administrators sat together – vulnerable to the new technologies that our students mastered long before us.  For this particular workshop this is as it should be.  Tech initiatives that are top down are doomed to struggle, if not fail, in my opinion.  The learning curve is too steep and the price is too high – literally.  In my last post I referred to the Teaching the iGeneration workshop and its ability to Help… your students (or yourself professionally more on this later) work and learn collaboratively…” 

I am finally getting around to "the more on this later" piece.  As a school begins to define its direction technologically – Google Apps for Education, 1 to 1 initiatives, Tech infrastructure, cell phone policies, BYO Devices/Technology – training their staff on this proposed new reality is really important.  This is true to ensure that teachers can leverage the technology efficiently AND how to put it to good use for their students.  This is where leadership is vital.

In my leadership role (Department Chair) I talk to teachers all the time about modeling and providing exemplars for their students.  As I listened to Bill Ferriter (@plugusin) last week in Dallas he discussed the collaborative learning opportunities we could provide our students by utilizing tools like Google docs, Diigo, Voicethread, etc. As a teacher he energized me but just as quickly as Department Chair he challenged me.  MODELING!  The practical classroom application of many of the ideas we discussed were to get students thinking, writing, talking, and working collaboratively.  I want to do that with my classes!  I’d like a lot of teachers to want to do that with their classes!

My goal is to use some of these applications, as Ferriter suggests, in my role as Department Chair with the teachers.  Many of the strategies we talked about were cool and new – new in that I had never seen them before!  If I can share one of these ideas every few weeks through normal communication and departmental “stuff” I can then have follow up conversations on how this site could also be used with kids. 

If it is not clear I would encourage you, if you’re so inclined, to attend Teaching the iGeneration very worthwhile!


  1. Hey Joe,

    Another important point to remember is that if you can get your teachers to start using new tools to make their PROFESSIONAL work easier, they are more likely to integrate those same skills into their classroom practice.

    Consider setting up a wiki to organize the content of your department. Show teachers how to upload their favorite lessons there.

    Or consider starting a Diigo social bookmarking group within your department so that you can quickly organize weblinks together.

    Neither will directly impact students, but both would be GREAT leadership steps simply because as your department members see how collaboration can be made easier with digital tools, they will be WAY more likely to integrate those same tools into their classroom practice.

    I like to call this "hiding the aspirin in the applesauce." Tech integration efforts fail when teachers aren't convinced that new tools are valuable. Convincing them of the value in new tools and practices depends on showing them how those tools can make their own learning easier.

    Any of this make sense?

    1. This makes a lot of sense! We have an OUTSTANDING librarian who regularly sends the Department links to useful and worthwhile (vetted) websites. I am meeting with her this week to work on making a Diigo Group for the department. Something as simple as not burying that awesome work in an inbox. Thanks for the comment Bill, you're keeping my wheels turning!