School CIO Advisors speak out on community involvement
“Be visible and accessible. As my grandma used to say, ‘Be nice to everyone you meet.’ Be the solutions person— not the problem person. Identify problems and tell people how to fix them. Make yourself the go-to person, even if it isn’t in your domain.
Communication with staff, administrators, and board members is important, but so is communication with students and parents. Making them feel included goes a long, long way in getting people to feel like they are involved in what you are doing.
Attend staff meetings, board meetings, any meeting they’ll let you attend. Talk to people— talk to everyone—about what you are doing, why you are doing it, about how you will make things easier and how they can help you do that.
Ask those same people questions about what they need, what they want, what they’d like to be able to do, about how they want you to help them.
Share your expertise with them. Don’t make them feel stupid—instead, make them feel included. Including them in your plans gets them to want to help and gives you the buy-in you need to reach your tipping points for change, for money, for whatever is needed to make technology successful in your district.
Send emails with periodic updates or just a funny anecdote about what happened when you received your first shipment of 500 computers and they came in 1,500 boxes.
It isn’t easy. It’s a lot of work, and your mouth will hurt from smiling and being nice. But in the end, it’s worth every ounce of effort.”
—George J. Weeks, director of technology, Glassboro Public Schools, New Jersey
“Our technology department provides most of our own staff development, and we require teachers and staff to attend 12 hours of technology-integration training each school year. Meeting monthly with our campus and district administrators to plan and monitor educational technology goals helps my department achieve the buy-in necessary to meet our educational technology goals. W e also have a site-based committee that consists of campus administrators, teachers, students, and parents that meets twice each year to plan and monitor our district’s technology plan.”
—Terisa J. ODowd, technology director, Howe Independent School District, Texas
“I find key teacher leaders on campuses that I trust and are willing to take risks to try new things. I ask them to try some new edtech items and report back to me but also share with their staff what they discover. I f it doesn’t work, then it’s not worth it. However—if I can show that the tool does work, will make learning more enjoyable and engaging for students, and save teachers time in the process—then I ’ve got a good chance to make it stick. Any change is hard and takes some level of work. They have to know that it’s worth their time and effort in the long run.”
—Carl Hooker, director of instructional technology, Eanes Independent School District, Texas
“The community is very supportive of technology and the students are interested as well. The community wants labs and networks, but when we talk about integrating technology into instruction they are hesitant. It’s an interesting problem. The community is very tech savvy, but getting people to buy into combining the two and changing instruction is a challenge.
Every other year, we have a showcase to demonstrate how tech is being used in our kindergarten through 12thgrade classes. The students present projects that incorporate the use of technology. The project does not have to be a tech project and the point is not to show how great you are at using PowerPoint but to show how technology allowed you to achieve a deeper understanding.”
—Rick Cave, technology director, West Windsor-Plainsboro Regional School District, New Jersey