Leadership Day 2008: Leading without Leaders

I was intrigued by Scott McLeod’s (of Dangerously Irrelevant) challenge for edubloggers to use July 4th as an opportunity to blog about educational technology leadership.  I have had some interesting experiences over the past two years in regard to technology and the leaders within my school, and I think that they are relevant to any discussion about EdTech Leadership in the 21st Century.

My school has suffered from high turnover of administrators over the past five years.  We have not been able to keep qualified assistant principals, as they often leave to pursue principalships elsewhere.  The result is a culture of instability and a lack of personal connection between the staff and their leaders.  Two years ago, a group of teacher leaders joined together to make a pact: we will make a grassroots effort to lead from below.

This effort has been very successful, and it is beginning to reap benefits.  We are beginning a new year with an empty assistant principal office, and yet I am not worried.  I know that there will be a network of highly skilled and motivated teachers ready to help the new hire to adjust to our school culture and assimilate into our community.

The connection with school technology is less obvious.  It is difficult to pursue a multi-year process of updating hardware and training staff without consistency at the administrative level.  We have found that a collection of confident teachers with a common vision and the will to improve the educational technology in the school can provide that coherence, even in the face of high turnover.  The lesson here is directed more at teachers than at their administrators.  If you feel that you do not have the support that you need, find others that share your goals and work hard to effect real change in your school building.  It can be done, and it must be done.

Photo courtesy of iStockPhotos.com

5 thoughts on “Leadership Day 2008: Leading without Leaders

  1. This blog is a great inspiration because I am an elementary education major and we are taking a technology in the classroom course right now. It shows us different ways to integrate technology in the classroom for teachers and students. After this class I can really see the importance of using technology in the classroom and I find it very exciting that your school is trying to make things work even without the support of prominent leaders in your school. Throughout this class I have been thinking about how if my school system offered all of the newest technology that we learn about in class then life would be easy, but in reality they do not. This gives me hope that when I am in the school that I will be surrounded by strong individuals who really care about the children and the education they are receiving.

  2. Well stated. We teachers need not be afraid to drive the ship, so to speak, if our school sites lack leadership. We are the constant in those students’ lives at school. My school also changes administration frequently. Our current set of leaders adopted a very soft take on discipline this year, so teachers banded together and handled discipline ourselves. Once students realized that we now had a system of consequences in place for when they break the rules, they began to follow those rules regularly. They needed structure, and we gave it to them.

    As for technology, it is certainly difficult to get a program up and running with a revolving door of administrators. Teachers do need to set the vision themselves to see any positive progress in this area. We are in the infancy stage with this at my school, but I look forward to seeing our progress.

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