The Forge

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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