How do we model the type of teaching that we want to see in our classrooms?desertleader.jpg

= From Dr. Scott McLeod, director of the CASTLE at Iowa State University:

What makes administrators effective technology leaders?
[cross-posted at the TechLearning blog]
One of the questions that I ask right at the beginning of our students’ School Technology Leadership certificate program is whether administrators can be effective technology leaders in their school organizations without being at least somewhat technology-savvy themselves. Here are some example student responses:

  • Yes. They just need to get the right people on board and empower them appropriately.
  • No. How, for example, can a principal truly understand the power and potential of blogging without ever having blogged himself?
  • Yes. There’s no way school administrators have the time to learn new technologies in addition to everything else for which they’re responsible. Principals need to focus on instructional and academic leadership. Of necessity, the answer has to be yes for most school leaders.
  • No. “Do as I say and not as I do” doesn’t play very well with teaching staffs. If a principal is going to ask her teachers to use digital technologies, she better be using and learning technology too.
  • Yes. It’s all about appropriate delegation and oversight. For example, a principal doesn’t have to be an accounting expert to effectively oversee her school business manager.
  • No. There is at least some evidence to show that teachers are more likely to integrate technology into their instruction when administrators are modeling technology usage.
And so on…
What do you think? Can a school administrator be an effective leader in the area of technology but not be very tech-savvy himself / herself?

Why do we focus on school leaders when we talk about school change and technology?

The Wallace Foundation Learning from Leadership Project points out:
  • principals and superintendents are the ones charged with setting direction and developing people.
  • They’re the only individuals with the power to redesign the organization.
  • Research has shown that school leadership, through both direct and indirect effects, is ‘second only to classroom instruction among all school-related factors that contribute to what students learn at school’ and that ‘leadership effects are usually largest where and when they are needed most.’ In other words, ‘the greater the challenge the greater the impact of [leaders’] actions on learning. . . . Indeed, there are virtually no documented instances of troubled schools being turned around without intervention by a powerful leader.

School administrators are in charge of the following:
  • set the vision
  • control the budget
  • reassign personnel
  • empower others
  • alter school culture
  • establish priorities
  • facilitate buy-in
  • reallocate resources
  • ensure organizational alignment
  • and so on…

When it comes to technological leadership, administrators are a natural place to start.
  • Where do you stand?
  • What is your vision of what your school will look like, act like in five years? Ten years?
  • What type of student do you want to graduate?
  • When you meet with teachers during observations, what specific suggestions do you make regarding use of technology in planning or instruction?

McLeod, Scott. Dangerously Irrelevant. May 9, 2007. August 28, 2007 <>.
McLeod, Scott. "Professional Development for the Leaders." [Weblog TechLearning Blog] July 4, 2007. 29 Aug 2007 <>.