By Gary Shattuck, CIO Advisor
This blog is about the last of the Six Laws of the Adoption of Technology in Education: the Law of Leadership. As my previous blog on the Law of Change indicated, change is accelerating at a dizzying pace. In order to meet those challenges, schools need to adapt to these societal and student changes. This adaption must include the use of technology both instructionally and administratively. If school leaders do not learn how to leverage technology in their building to improve the instruction delivered to the students, school leaders will be fulfilling John Dewey’s warning in 1944: “If we continue to teach our students today like we taught them yesterday, we will rob them of their future.”
Some of the challenges that educators will encounter in the future will be education related, as well. As a result, leadership will matter more than ever. For example, Common Core stipulates that all testing will be done online by 2015. Which schools are prepared for this? Does your school have adequate internal bandwidth and external bandwidth? Does your school have the technical resources available to test every student in the testing window (Law of Scarcity)? Only leadership can solve this problem. Leadership matters.
Will teachers ever adopt a student-centered pedagogy? According to our accrediting agency, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), the External Review Team will be looking for students using the classroom technology, not the teacher. Students using the technology represent a student-centered classroom. In many cases, teachers will need to change their belief about what constitutes good instruction. Only leaders can assist in this transformation (Law of Beliefs). Leadership matters.
In my blog about the Law of Perception, I explained how important it is for leaders to pay attention to what teachers perceive to be true. A school can have an ample amount of technology for students to use, but if a teacher perceives that she does not have enough, that will affect her classroom practices. A school leader must create a common understanding (vision) with the teachers in her building to ensure good instruction takes place. Leadership matters.
Finally, for teachers to adopt a student-centered classroom, they need excellent technology-using teachers to emulate. To achieve a successful diffusion of an innovation requires 15% to 20% of these excellent technology-using teachers leading the way. Who hires the teachers in a building? Leadership matters.
The Law of Leadership is the binding that allows the other Laws to flourish. Leadership truly does matter. None of the other Laws can be effective unless they are supported by the Law of Leadership.
Gary Shattuck is the director of technology and media services at Newton County Schools in Covington, Georgia. Follow him on Twitter as @EdTechLeader