Many school leaders understand that integrating technology into the classroom is now a must-have to fully engage their students. These five best practices can help school leaders strengthen their educational leadership skills while building support for the need to include rich digital content in technology-enhanced classrooms.
1. Build leadership.
Look for leadership in those around you—from staff within the school administration to students in the classroom—and build their capacity. Help them develop the skills they need to integrate technology into the classroom and encourage their growth.
These leaders will be your voice when you aren’t available and will carry the message of the power of technology to support learning to those they work with.
2. Concern yourself with growth.
Have confidence that your own accomplishments will serve as a model for those you lead. Focus not on ensuring you are recognized for your achievements but rather on the growth of technology as an educational tool in your school. Support others in their own accomplishments in the field and know that in doing so, you have furthered the goals and likelihood that educational technology will be advanced.
3. Nurture others.
Educational technology development often requires a nurturing approach. Recognize even the smallest accomplishments in the field for those just learning how to integrate technology into the classroom and be sure that they are aware of their growth as this will encourage them to continue.
Encouragement is a key approach to success in educational technology as many educators feel intimidated by technology and lack confidence in their own abilities to utilize it. Like a good teacher with their students in the classroom, acknowledge, share, and take pride in your coworkers and teachers as they reach milestones in their ability to integrate technology.
4. Model best practices in educational technology.
As you use technology in the educational setting, model best practices in everything you do, from the small areas to the most obvious larger areas.
An example of a seemingly small area is in email duties. Emails are often the nemesis of a leader who is overwhelmed with the amount they find in their inbox, yet the very best educational leaders find a way to ensure that emails are answered in an appropriate manner.
Respond to emails promptly and answer every question asked. Never use one-word responses as they imply that you don’t value the sender enough to respond in a way that indicates their question was important to you. In fact, one-word answers tells your reader the opposite—your question was a bother—and discourages future interaction. Similarly, the best leaders answer every email from those that they lead. They strive to ensure that those who write them know that they are valued and a response is always in order.
In the same way, the best leaders do the simple things like:
- Have professional email signatures
- Incorporate great tools used by the district or organization in their own work and presentations
- Provide a plethora of resource opportunities to get the information they share
- Take carefully considered risks
- Are willing to ask for help when needed
All of these things model the desired activities of teachers when working with their students and their parents.
5. Build relationships with those around you.
The best educational technology leaders build relationships with those around them and those whose lives they affect. They are willing to get in the trenches with staff members setting up presentations as well as enjoying work lunches with colleagues. They show genuine concern for those they talk with and acknowledge that everyone has a life outside of the workplace.
Probably most importantly, they bring a sense of humor to the workplace. Laughter is a great team builder and a great leader knows how to use it to build a safe and enjoyable environment.
Using these approaches, you will create a positive work environment where those you lead will be empowered and motivated to support your goal of using technology to further academic success.
Dedication: This post is dedicated to Micha Villarreal, Director of Innovative Learning at Ysleta ISD in El Paso, Texas. Micha is a gifted educator and exceptional leader who inspires and motivates me even five years after my last opportunity to work with her at YISD.
About the Author
Dr. Carolynn Mortensen is the Missouri State Lead for Instructional Services with Fuel Education where she oversees the FuelEd Missouri educators in all content areas. Dr. Mortensen is a leader in Instructional Technology and has served in administrative positions supporting teachers, administrators, and students in the integration of technology to support learning. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at El Paso, a master’s degree from Capella University in Minneapolis, MN, and another master’s degree from Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, AZ. She went on to receive her education specialist degree and doctorate from Walden University in Minneapolis, MN.