In education we often hear the quote, “The influence of a good teacher can never be erased.” While this is true wholeheartedly, I believe that the influence of a good principal can also never be erased. Administrators are to have a vision for the direction of the school and influence the stakeholders to buy into that vision. Influence is a major piece of the career.
Many times, school districts have set the curriculum resources to be used and many of the programs. Administrators are the overseers and managers of these mandates; however, they are also in control of implementing school level initiatives and programs to best fit the needs of their population of students.
Influence through Your School’s Mission and Vision
The school’s vision statement is what you strive to become or do. It focuses on the future. The mission statement is what you are committed to doing to see that vision come to fruition.
Technology is our future, and our duty is to prepare our students to be successful in their future. Therefore, creating a mission statement that shows a commitment towards ensuring students are proficient in possessing and utilizing the necessary skills to be successful in an ever-changing world is paramount.
One of the main reasons it is important to have the use of technology reflected in the mission statement is because the mission statement is a direct reflection of your daily work. Many schools recite this statement daily, and it is what everyone in the building strives to live up to.
It is our responsibility to ensure our students understand that the technology they are using now may change, but their future most definitely involves the use of technology. Administrators lead this work and must follow through with the actions to stay true to the mission. We are agents of change and must not be afraid to try innovative practices through the use of technology.
See What Your Faculty and Staff Need in their Classrooms
Providing resources for your teaching staff is a managerial and instructional practice. As an administrator, we are to seek out resources and introduce them to our faculty and staff. We should also give teachers the autonomy to vet some of the resources they are familiar with and gain approval to use them.
Digital resources are not the only aid for technology. There are a plethora of tech tools and devices that can be used in the classroom to assist students during instruction or to bring students together to collaborate.
Teacher buy-in is always a priority. Allowing teachers to share their thoughts and opinions about which tech tools and software they would like to use increases their use of the tools. Creating a survey to gain insight would be beneficial for administrators upon pricing and purchasing. You may find a program that supports your mission and vision and is better than what you originally planned. This is an example of shared leadership, which also boosts morale among the team.
The students should also play a role in sharing tech tools, programs, and software they like to use. Our students are very in tune with technology and can teach us things that we may not be aware of in terms of tech: a survey for students would be impactful.
Ask How You can Innovate at Your School
Administrators are advocates not only for the students who are under their care, but also for the faculty and staff, the facilities, and the community. Technology like smartboards, sets of iPads, programs for the whole school, etc. can be expensive and outside of the budget. Fundraising and talking with your school partners for donations will be a win-win.
If your students are not already one-to-one (every student has their own device signed out to them for the year), it would be advantageous to speak with your technology department to learn about ways you can get devices for your students whether it be refurbished devices or a few class sets that can be shared. The technology department may have other items you could borrow like a green screen or other items for instruction.
Model the Technology Use You Want to See
Administrators have major influence over their staff through their own actions. We should never ask our staff to do something we are not willing to do ourselves. Teachers feel more at ease when the principal or assistant principal are comfortable using the same tools they are.
Since administrators do not teach in their own classrooms, the perfect opportunity to model the use of technology is during faculty meetings, PLC meetings, when visiting grade-level planning, or any other school-wide meeting. Modeling is a best practice for teachers to explain to children and for administrators to explain to teachers.
There will always be a group of teachers that does not feel comfortable with using technology in their classrooms. Technology can be intimidating; sometimes using technology in the classroom comes more naturally to the students than to the teachers. It is important to provide optional training to those who may need it and ensure those teachers you will be there to assist them on their tech growth journey.
As time moves forward, we are noticing more programs that are designed for multiple school tasks. Students are taking their state and local assessments online, practice assessments are online, learning management systems like Canvas and Blackboard are being used, there are video apps like Webex and Google Meet, and there are programs for adaptive learning and intervention like Successmaker. There are even apps to manage the dismissal process. More and more the expectation is for students to use those devices for instruction daily.
Ultimately for success, administrators must first learn these platforms, listen to the needs of their teachers, survey the level of comfort, provide training and individualized support, monitor the use and fidelity to the programs, and acknowledge the benefits of using each one.