A member of my Personal Learning Network, PLN, Ben Grey is starting a new job. In his post he says:
It seems to me as I’ve observed the advent of modern technology increasing in utilization in education, there has grown a rift between those in the Director of Technology role and many of the others in an educational institution. Somehow the two sides seem to be at odds. Neither understands the other. As it is most often manifested, the one side is prone to thinking in terms of restricting what takes place in the technological environment, while the other side believes those running the technological environment know very little about education.
As a “teacher” who is also a qusi-administrator I hear both sides of the communication complaints.
I don’t know why it is, but teachers in general seem to have a pretty low opinion of most administrators. While administrators in general seem to think that teachers have too narrow of a scope of view.
I am reminded of the Nordstrom advertising fiasco I heard about in a marketing bootcamp. The story as I was told it is basically, this: Nordstrom’s marketing group decided to insert an advertising page around home delivered newspapers. As they saw it all the home delivered newspapers would be neatly wrapped in a Nordstrom flier announcing not only to the home owner but anyone who drove past while the paper was out that Nordstrom was having a grand opening that day. What actually happened was that the newspaper delivery people, who did not get compensated for any extra effort, decided that this was a waste of time and energy and it started raining. The delivery people already behind schedule because of the rain and the required stuffing of papers into plastic bags stuffed the fliers with the newspaper in a haphazard fashion. When they delivered the papers, if the flier was visible at all it was usually because it had escaped the bag and was now litter and a blight on the landscape. The grand opening was a dismal failure.
The marketing group had a good idea that might have worked, but didn’t because of poor implementation. If someone had said, “What can we do to get the people actually doing the work to buy into this program?” Then perhaps the idea would have been a success.
What does this all mean? it means that as administrators the job requires getting teacher buy in because they are the ones actually doing the grunt work. It means improving communication between teachers and administrators, teachers and teachers, and administrators and administrators. It means being able to see from more than one point of view.
For the last couple of years the push for me has been one of creating a Personal Learning Network, and while that is important, I think the goal as administrators is to build a Professional Learning Environment in the district. A place where all teachers and administrators learn and share with each other. If collaboration is the key to improving our teaching then perhaps it is important to improving districts as well.
Why did I choose Ben’s post as the lead in? Because the educational technology director is the person who has the knowledge and opportunity to create the network. Perhaps, he won’t be the one who ultimately manages the networking, but he can get it started.