One Tool at a Time

For anyone who’s never heard the term "tool" used in a positive context, you might find what follows refreshing—even liberating.

Educators everywhere seem plagued with initiative fatigue. So much activity is wedged into the school day that time for one more thing seems impossible. Yet, the importance of infusing technology tools into our practice to boost student engagement, collaboration and critical thinking has never been greater.

Thus, we have the educator’s classic internal struggle between willingness to innovate and scarcity of time. From my experience, time usually wins, creating a persistent, subliminal frustration that insidiously siphons energy. “When will I find time to learn and implement this new technology amidst all I’m expected to do? Will I be trained? What if it doesn’t work? Why do they keep adding?”

All good questions, but the tension is not relieved.

I’d like to suggest that a change in perspective can shift the energy. Who wants to take on the burden of a large externally imposed abstraction? Not me. But if you ask me whether I’d be willing to let a colleague teach me just one practical tech tool that, with a little practice, makes my classroom a better place to learn… I’d be all over it.

Like great coaches, savvy administrators know that optimal performance is achieved by giving their professionals the right mindset to accompany the playbook. A "one tool at a time" approach may not seem overly ambitions, but maybe that’s the point. Soon, the toolshed will be overflowing.

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