They Said It: The Power of Conviction

As the presenter at a recent conference punched the “results” button on the technology-usage survey on the screen before us, we could all have predicted the result: a vast disconnect between the amount of mobile device usage in school vs. our personal lives—for adults and students alike. Like this is something we don’t know, right? But the larger question is, “Why have we as district leaders accepted this egregious disconnect, and what can we do to change it?”

District-level efforts at technology proliferation have, in my view, been hamstrung by a few simple yet powerful things:

* Underestimating the inertia of the 20th-century paradigm and staff concern about what true change might do to high-stakes test scores.
* Outdated policies and IT practices putting tight boundaries on access and placing too many hurdles before staff.
* District-level administrators who could do more to model and show passion for technology usage in their professional lives.

The good news is that the remedies for the above are straightforward—if we as district leaders have the courage to set a different tone.

We need to simply and consistently paint for staff the big-picture differences between industrial and conceptual-age education, highlighting the absurdity of these obvious disconnects and the need for change. It’s a mistake to assume that staff members have internalized this big-picture mindset, for their days are consumed in meeting a multitude of smaller expectations.

In so doing, staff will pick up on our energy, our urgency, our passion and our sincerity—but only when they see it in our eyes, hear it in our voices, and observe the technology in our hands. Therein lies an opportunity to model the passionate use of technology via videocast, for example, rather than the standard e-mail memo.

It is only when practical conviction of the district administrative team becomes evident and their energy waxes contagious that dispositions begin to change. Once such momentum gathers steam, it’s only a matter of time before policies and practices follow suit. It all begins with conviction.

Rob Glass is a superintendent in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. He blogs at Glass Half Full. Follow him on twitter at glasr333.