By Steven M. Baule, CIO Advisor
Recently, I saw a link to an article in the Tech & Learning daily newsletter (I know, shameless plug) stating that technology leadership was no different than other leadership within the district. It was about education and instructional leadership. At first glance, it seems almost too simple to have to state, but the concept does deserve reflection. From my vantage point as the CEO of a school district, I have to say I have seen a lack of proper perspective on more than one occasion from school administrators who are charged with leading non-instructional departments.
It is essential for anyone working in a school setting to understand that the first priority of every staff member is to do what is in the best interest of the students. IT leaders must remember to focus not on the “boxes and wires” but what children will be doing with those devices and how they will be using that bandwidth. Just as those charged with managing transportation for a district might become more focused on bus schedules than academic performance, school technology leaders must guard against focusing on anything but the students. All leaders in education must remember that they are school leaders first and though they may have responsibility for technology, transportation, or food service, their priorities must be focused on student achievement.
As we get ready across the country to begin another school year, I would urge all school leaders to remember that the reason we are there is for the kids. Take some time to wander through the registration sessions and see the children and parents coming back for the new year. Make sure you stop into the kindergarten rooms during the first couple of days to see the wonder and excitement that those children show towards school.
Elementary students are always excited to come back, though sometimes they don’t want to admit it. Middle schoolers are often terrified of having to deal with lockers, schedules, etc., but be an extra helping hand in a middle school hallway as children struggle with their lockers (they will) and help them find their way to classes (they will need the help). High school students are the best at concealing their desire to return to school, but spend some time in the hallways or cafeterias listening to how their summers went and what their goals are for the year.
In a couple of months, when you are frustrated working on a bandwidth issue or fixing the business manager’s computer, you can reflect back on why we are really all here. Hopefully it will make you smile. It always makes me smile. Remember, parents are giving us their very best children. We have a responsibility to give them our very best every day.
Steven M. Baule is superintendent of North Boone CUSD 200 in Poplar Grove, IL. He has written several books on aspects of library and technology management and planning.