Thursday, July 29, 2010
Our new Assistant Superintendent, Chris Lindholm, invited ISD 191 principals to participate in Leadership Day. Leadership Day is organized by a professor at Iowa State University, Scott McLeod. The purpose of Leadership Day is the following: On Friday, July 30, 2010, blog about whatever you like related to effective school technology leadership: successes, challenges, reflections, needs, wants, etc.
I readily admit that I don't know everything about technology and some of the Leadership Day blogs that I read included vocabulary and terms that are new to me. I do believe that technology is an important instructional tool that, when used effectively, can have a positive impact on student achievement. We are making strides at Sioux Trail to increase access to instructional technology and the essential professional development that must go with the hardware or software purchase. Additionally, I'm observing positive changes throughout the district in regard to instructional technology.
Many of the Leadership Day blogs that I read (I admit that I didn't read them all) seemed to have a negative bend toward them so I'm going to go in the opposite direction. I'm going to take a couple minutes to share some of our recent successes in related to technology in ISD 191.
Dedicated tech funding: We continue to have a small, but dedicated source of funding for technology. I believe the amount varies slightly from school to school, but this stream of funding provides resources for a five year rotation of computers and the opportunity to introduce other
instructional technology tools. At Sioux Trail we have been able to maintain a five year rotation in two student computer labs as well as staff computers, offer teachers a choice between a laptop and a desktop, add document cameras to classrooms and begin purchasing interactive white boards.
Collaboration: At Sioux Trail we have a very active PTO who work hard on behalf of all Sioux Trail families. Our PTO Board collaborated with staff to purchase and install LCD projectors in every teaching space within two years. We have accomplished the purchasing part and now the electrician has to complete his part (we submitted the work request in December . . . ). Every teaching space will have an LCD projector and we will have accomplished the goal in just over one year! The PTO set aside every extra cent they had, dedicated fundraisers to increased access to technology and we focused building funds on the same purpose. While it was very frustrating to see the district elementary magnet schools provided with classrooms sets of LCD projectors, interactive white boards and other tools while we had to pinch pennies; it feels very good to know that we can accomplish something like this and I have a great deal of pride in the fact that we worked hard to provide these tools.
New leadership with a focus in instructional technology: Our new Assistant Superintendent is a techie! I have had more conversations about technology with a cabinet member in the last month than I have had in the previous three years I've been a principal in ISD 191. Chris has taught me some new things, I now have all my blogs set up in a reader account and I'm sure there will be a lot more new and exciting things to come. In previous years, several elementary principals had advocated for the inclusion of professional development around technology in the district professional development plans, but despite the presentation of data, repeated conversations and the obvious need for technology professional development (I thought it was obvious!) our pleas feel on deaf ears. I do not expect miracles, but I am excited to hear what this conversation sounds like with a techie leading district professional development.
Access to professional development: Despite the fact that technology is missing from the district professional development plan there are some areas of success. When the district put out a bid for new interactive white boards the director of professional development and the director of technology asked vendors to include professional development as a part of the bid. The result at Sioux Trail is that the six classroom teachers who have access to an interactive white board will get a formal introduction to the tool. This is a small, but great step, in the right direction.
Opportunities to experiment with different types of tools: Our district is trying to establish guidelines for a what a standard ISD 191 classroom looks like. They haven't quite put the money behind the ideas, but while the work is underway there are opportunities to experiment with different types of sound field technologies, various brands of interactive white boards or other tools. This freedom promotes the opportunity to constantly explore and learn about new technologies and new opportunities.
My personal and professional goal is to keeping making forward progress and to keep learning. I hope that by doping that I become better instructional leader and set the example for others.
Thanks to Scott and Chris for getting for getting my synapses firing!