I was inspired by Dan Callahan’s blog post, referenced below, in which he chats about the freedom to fail.  He discusses the importance for leaders to explicitly give permission to teachers to experiment with technology in the learning process.

Learn by trial without fearing the error.  Innovation should be accompanied by a healthy dose of perseverance.  An important mindset for our students to grasp; therefore it is fitting that we model it for them through a little practice and experimentation of our own.

Leaders and teachers, as you settle into routines for the year ahead, try new things with your technology.  Prepare some virtual tours for your kiddos, give them some new challenges in the computer lab, or make your teacher workstation available for a class scribe to capture the class discussions.

Remind your students, “I might not be good at this technology thing….YET.”  Yet is a powerful reminder that we are lifelong learners.

Callahan, D. (Aug. 14, 2013). Permission to fail #leadershipday13. Retrieved from

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Tribes Tools & Design

Today I’m responding to Scott McLeod’s all-call for blog posts on Leadership Day 2013, discussing technology integration as a function of school leadership.  There is much to celebrate and much progress yet to be made as we support school leaders in their vision for technology in their districts.  Regardless of an administrator’s personal comfort and skill level with technology, here are my three cents in the discussion.

First, consider this paradigm shift regarding the status of technology in your district.  Imagine with me that IEPs, textbook adoptions, and faculty meetings are optional.  These are typically district wide commitments and non-negotiable expectations.  And yet, in many cases, technology has been optional, a nice-to-have, but not mission critical.

The shift is this:  In terms of procurement and implementation, make technology adoptions part of the cultural DNA.  Understandably, logistics i.e. budgets and training factor into reality’s timetable.  That’s why this is called a paradigm.  Mindsets make plans possible.   Therefore, make technology integration mission critical in your district, then draft plans to make it so.

Let’s talk about these plans.  What is technology being hired to do in your district?  Technology integration is primarily about design and habits.  Preparing students for this century involves creating experiences that place them at the center of their learning….experiences that link motivation, dialogue, and reflection to their learning goals.

These experiences are not available in yesteryear’s textbook adoption.   New opportunities need to be designed and as the 21st century instructional leader, an administrator can lead the charge to retool learning innovation.  Instilling this vision and aligning resources for this design effort is the second cent.  This effort is gargantuan.  But it’s attainable and completely necessary.

And third, new habits.  Designing lessons and new experiences requires new habits.  We use terms like Professional Learning Communities, Lesson Studies, and Personal Learning Networks.  I call them Tribes.  In order to design new opportunities and do the tough work of horizontal and vertical articulation, teachers must learn to tribe.  And leaders have to provide the time, funding, and expectations to do this.  Tribing is one of the essential ingredients to adult learning, especially when it comes to learning new technology skills.

There is no doubt that your leadership sets our focus.  What gets practiced, gets permanent.  School and district leaders, we need you to make technology part of your schools’ DNA.  We need to hear the clarion call for new learning design, and we need the gentle nudge to tribe it up and learn new skills together.  Oh, and did I mention that we need these three things all at the same time.

This works!!  But where to start with these transformational changes?  I suggest starting or joining a tribe of like minded leaders who are in the same place.  If you’d like to hear examples or be connected to districts who are working on these challenges, please contact me for more information.

Recommended reading:
Michael Fullan’s Stratosphere:  Integrating Technology, Pedagogy, and Change Knowledge

This post was written as a contribution to the discussion #LeaderShipDay13

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What are you hiring technology to do?

What are you (and your district) hiring technology to do?  When I ask that question in workshops, responses generally fall into one of four categories.

1.  The “How-with-technology:”  The actual device or app is named i.e. “Evernote for the iPad is a great tool for note-taking.”
2.  The “How-with-people.”  “Technology helps our faculty to share and coordinate schedules.”
3.   “What” is being made:  “We design new lessons and experiences for students.”
4.  The “Why” or result:  “Technology helps our students (and our teachers) become lifelong learners.”

These responses come from experiences that range from fun to complex and from mandatory to whatever-works-for-you strategies.  I encourage you to check out the video below and ask the question again, “What is technology doing for these people?”  Listen for these responses:  “(This technology) helps me to ‘live my life,’  or ‘make a dent in the universe’ or ‘solve a problem.'”

Although apps and devices are used, the stories highlight what makes technology integration work, namely:  new design and new habits.  The results of these new designs and life style decisions are so compelling that the actual device or app takes a back seat.

Good luck as you continue to integrate technology in your classroom!  Solve a lot of problems and make a dent in the universe.

Video link:

Source:  Apple – Making a difference.  One app at a time. (2013, Jun 12).  [Video file]. Retrieved from

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