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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

One of the easiest things for any tech person to forget is the presence of non-instructional types in the building. There's so much great technology out there for school administrators, but tech support often overlooks them because their job focus is helping classroom instruction. There is tremendous value in reaching out to on-site administrators and seeing what they need. Here are some of the benefits to thinking about your administrators when it comes to tech support.

1) Leading by Example

Technology integration is becoming more and more important in schools around the country, and many administrators are leading the charge. Sadly, some are leading that charge with little technology training. Teachers do not respond well to top-down edicts. If an administrator were able to walk into a classroom and show a teacher some tips and tricks, it would go a long way -- much further than an email telling them to seek help from their tech integration specialist.

2) Bigger Choirs Can Help

Sometimes getting people to try different things can be tough. Technology can be intimidating at times, and the more people championing its use, the better it is for everyone. By working with administrators, a tech integrationist can have one more tool for working with teachers. A knowledgeable administrator will help move some reluctant adopters in the right direction.

3) An Efficient Admin is a Happier Admin

One of things I hear from school administrators from around the country is that they don't have time for things they really want to do. Spending some time with them and showing them some shortcuts or web apps that can make their lives easier could actually make a school run more smoothly. If they can spend less time on busywork and more time on student and teacher interactions, the school could be a much better place for everyone.

4) Expanding Their Knowledge Base

Teacher evaluations are a part of life in education. Administrators go into classrooms to look at what a teacher does and provide meaningful feedback. If an administrator lacks a sound technology background, he or she might enter a classroom and have no idea what a teacher is doing, and no idea whether the teacher is using best practices or the best tool for the situation. All this means that the administrator will have trouble evaluating that teacher's effectiveness. Imagine a principal noticing that a projector was running in the classroom and considering that as proficient technology use! By working with administrators, a tech integrationist can show them the tools that 21st century teachers are using and demonstrate how those tools can improve instruction. By helping administrators, a tech integrationist could be helping more teachers in the long run.

Like teachers, there might be some administrators that aren't ready to get on board, but it's important to let them feel part of the crowd when you make your tech visits in the schools. At the minimum, it's never a bad thing to keep the principal happy and needing your help. Happy New Year!

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Alex Inman's picture
Alex Inman
Dir. of Info Systems-Sidwell Friends & Consultant-Educational Collaborators

Great post, Nick! I agree with every word. However, as Tech companies, like Apple, have been targeting their message to superintendents, I have seen academic leadership push through 1:1 programs and forget to include time and money for tech staff to learn.

Don't get me wrong, I believe the push for programs like this should come from the academic leadership. I just think it is easy to think, "well, those guys can do anything," or "hey, it's more tech, they'll love it!"

The need for a tech staff to really step up their game is essential when the academic side of the school really embraces technology. However, this may require more or different staffing, different tools and almost certainly different processes. They need that support as well.

Again, this doesn't conflict with your post. I just have seen this more and more and your post reminded me of this.

Fabio's picture

Nicholas,
This is an extremely important post. As for your 4th point - It is a must that Administrators are consistently developing their knowledge and application of the role of technology in education. In my opinion, administrators should receive organized technology sessions once a month at the very least. How can administrators improve the instructional program in their schools without knowledge in this area? If administrators and teachers for that matter do not embrace technology and make a commitment to improve their knowledge in this area, we will not be effective educators for the 21st century learners.

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