Shaping Change while Remaining Static

I have long felt that the office is the least technologically advanced place at school.  As an assistant principal, I can influence change by advocating Smartboards, considering the BYOD movement, and providing professional development options for faculty.  However, in all of this, I am not actually using any of the technology in my classroom, which so happens to be the school, not directly anyway.  It is entirely possible for a school to be tech savvy and provide great technology options for students while the office continues to run the same as always.  This is one of the primary reasons I embarking on this COETAIL journey.  I want the office to use technology as much as the students and the teachers.  I want to move forward and do new things in new ways, as Prensky advocates in Shaping Tech for the Classroom.

The office is a perfect example of doing old things in old ways.  Yes, we have moved to e-mail or Moodle as a primary source of communication, but we are still communicating about the same things: student affairs, assembly schedules, dress code checks, weekly bulletins, and mass thank you cards via e-mail, which I will argue is not progress at all as a handwritten card or a public verbal thank you is far more personal and meaningful.  We share a strategy of the week, which is meant to be thought-provoking and connected to learning we wish faculty to be engaged in at the time.  However, in some ways, I think e-mail has desensitized information sharing.  Far too often, e-mails go unread or misunderstood.

We do have great database systems, but these are also used in old ways.  We store information, generate reports and yes, these things may get done faster and we may have quicker access, but in the end, I am sure we not using the programs to their greatest potential.  Perhaps e-mailing detailed attendance reports to parents on a weekly basis hovers on old things in new ways.  Perhaps.  It does enhance communication and allows for greater communication on a more frequent basis with a greater number of students.  However, information is still delayed.  As I write this, I wonder if there is a way to tweet a parent each time a student arrives late or is absent.  That would really keep them informed, day-by-day, hour-by-hour.

Moving our Learning Colleagues Program for new teachers to Moodle is probably one example of doing old things in new ways.  The meetings and discussion are totally online, enabling teachers to share on their own time line as opposed to weekly or monthly meetings.  I would love to move more meetings online, especially committee meetings where work can be produced using Wikis and other file-sharing technology.

I bought a Mac and then an IPhone 4 because I want to start creating weekly podcasts.  Time has been my greatest barrier…well, perhaps, no.  Perhaps it is my lack of skill and practice, which do take time.

However, even creating podcasts is not going to dramatically change the way the office is run.  It might be a more digitalized and advanced newsletter, but it is still a newsletter, and those have been around for hundreds of years.

I love my RSS feeds and those have greatly enhanced my professional reading and knowledge in just a few short weeks.  I am currently creating my unit plan to involve getting all faculty to use an RSS feeder.  This is a small step in the right direction, but I want to use this leap year to leap before I look.  I welcome any ideas for how administration can run new things in new ways.  What does that look like?

2 Replies to “Shaping Change while Remaining Static”

  1. It is really refreshing and inspiring to read an administrator’s perspective on taking the technology to a deeper level, within their own domain at the admin level. I can imagine that for the teachers at your school this is a powerful message, where you are encouraging creativity and change through modeling the process. I haven’t had the privilege of working with an administrator that is thinking on this level and willing to model the best practices that come with technology integration. In fact, most of my administrators aren’t even close to this level of leadership and I find it to be disheartening at times. They are good administrators for the more typical aspects but they are not innovative enough in my mind. If you were my administrator and you were modeling this type of change in your office, and being so open about the process as well, I would be inspired to push my own envelope as well.

  2. hi tara,

    funny that i sit in an office just on the other side of the highway (the 30, the fahaheel) from you thinking about similar ideas! this is my first year in the curriculum coordinator office, often a place of mystery to the outsider. as we are piloting ipads with teachers and moving very quickly towards a 1:1 ipad program for students in august, i find myself in need of a plan to get my colleagues up-to-speed, even though i’m not exactly sure what that “speed” is! i am particularly interested in using ipads to enhance learning through “doing new things in new ways.” however, i think it is fair to assume that teachers will need to progress through Prensky’s four-step process at their own paces. hopefully, i can play a role in making that process quick and painless. like you, my project will have a professional development focus.

    i do work with a couple of admin who use blogs in place of weekly staff newsletters and to-do-lists, blog as parent communication portal, and weekly video messages for students/teachers. these may be doing old things in new ways, but these forms of communication also have moments of doing new things in new ways. that you are thinking about doing new things in new ways is a good thing and this thinking (and coetail course work) will, no doubt, propel you (and your staff, as a result) forward on the path to 21st century adminstrating.

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