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When is it too much? AND When do we say “DO IT or GO!”?

By LeaderTalk Contributor — January 19, 2009 3 min read

The entry has been cross-posted to Sentiments On Common Sense.

Image by Old Shoe Woman via FlickrMy colleagues and I got in an animated conversation the other day about the actual demonstrable skills teachers
and administrators must have to be successful members of our school
community. Beyond the basics understandings that teachers must have of
the new uses of the read/write web, what exactly do we expect our
educational professionals to be able to use to enhance teaching and
build better learners?

I’ve been pounding my fist of late in these meetings, demanding a well developed professional development plan that is clear, concise and has reasonable accountability
build into it- with a sharp eye on the short term and a vision for what
will be in year 2 and year 3 of the plan. I personally feel it seems
like a reasonable and common sense
request, and as I have said over and over, I could probably sit down
and write a draft myself, but that would not help us address what
really needs to drive our school’s technology training strategy.
Then...out of the blue... it came out of one of the participants mouth.
Their words (paraphrased and combined) were:

When are the school administration going to start holding teachers accountable and make them use technology and follow the technology plan? We have NETS for Teachers in our performance evaluation program. We are working hard to ensure that training is in place for our teachers, but it will all be a huge waste of time if teachers are not held accountable.

Interesting thoughts, indeed! I didn’t say it but I wanted to hold someone else accountable. Nonetheless, the conversation continued and what followed was a
significant discussion about the frustrations of the technology
specialists. These folks are working long hours to prepare lessons for
their peers in addition to preparing lessons for the students. As we
are all aware, adults are a lot more demanding than children and thus
the time investment has been significant. A typical PD session that is
voluntary results in just a few “interested” teachers showing up, and
the technology use being enhanced in classrooms where there is already
integration already going on. It is certainly not a loss, but it is
not the gain we’re hoping for either.

So the question held in
the air around us and we all were responsible for the answer.
Ultimately, we are talking about professional responsiblity and
instructional excellence. Ultimately, I feel it comes to making the
standards and embedded skills in the standards managable and
understandable for all members of the instructional community in a
school. One of the resources we are using to build from is a resource
called “23 Things”. This group of educators has put together a great
list of resources and concepts that they feel best addresses the
current needs of a practicing teacher in a classroom. We took that
list, analyzed it, and then added to it and adapted it in ways that
will best meet our needs at our school. What I think the 23 things and
our additions and modifications does in this Professional Development
Mashup is make the whole mess of what would seem to be disjointed
applications, resources and skills into chunks of possibilities. I
would share it here, but it is not quite done. When it is, I will do
so. But, the creation and formation of this structure does not answer
the key question posed. Are the administrators going to hold the
teachers accountable? If they are, do they have the will- the guts - the understanding of the technology to say “You must meet these standards or go find another school or another job?”

It is a tough call. In 2000 the Center for Research on Information Technology and Organizations published a report called School Technology Leadership: Incidence and Impact. In the report it states:

For technology to become an integral part of a school, it not only is necessary to help teachers use the technology but administrators must be involved in it, too. The importance of training for developing teachers in technology has long been recognized in the educational community. These findings indicate that administrative leadership and decision-making are equal, if not more important than spending on infrastructure to maintaining a successful technology program. ...Charismatic people may contribute to technology integration as well, but it is even more essential for a school to distribute leadership and become a "technology learning organization," where administrators, teachers, students, and parents together work on how best to adapt new technologies to improve learning. (p. 17)

(Thank you Drape’s Takes for drawing my attention to this quote!)

After
it is all said and done, I have to continue to believe that until we
hold the ADMINISTRATORS accountable for understanding technology and
exploiting the power of the web, we cannot and will not be able to hold
our instructional staff accountable. As was stated almost 9 years ago,
it is the leaders who must build a “technology learning organization”.

What do you think?

Posted by Andrew Torris

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