Synopsis of the Traits of an Educational Leader

As a teacher leader in educational technology, it is important to understand the needs of and provide teachers with your guidance in the area of using and incorporating technology into the classroom and school. It is important for the educational technology leader to be a visionary leader that embodies the six attributes that studies have shown to be the keys to quality leadership.

A leader needs to have a vision of how educational technology will look in the school and develop a strategic plan that matches this vision. Educational leaders need to be able see what needs to be done now in terms of technology to make the future successful (NCREL, 2004). The strategic plan is “a blueprint… [that] address[es] the mission and objectives, desirable short- and long-term outcomes and tasks, available resources for implementing the tasks, determination of implementation responsibilities, and accountability criteria ” (NCREL, 2004). The educational technology strategic plan and the implementation of the plan should be almost identical if the vision for these plans has been shared and collaborated on. Through collaboration the plans become common ground therefore participants feel invested, leading to a higher success in implementation (SEDL, 1992). When the educational technology leader collaborates they are emphasize the important leadership quality of valuing human resources.

Valuing human resources can be achieved through the four areas outlined by SEDL that support teacher’s efforts. The first is “supporting teachers’ instructional methods”, and “their modifications of instructional approaches and materials” with the end goal of incorporating more effective use of technology in their classroom (1992). Within this area the leader acknowledges teachers’ ideas and efforts are an important part of educational technology in the school. The educational technology leader is most likely on the fifth stage outlined by Sherry and Gibson, teacher as leader. Other teachers you are working with are more likely to be somewhere in stage one through four. In relation to supporting teacher’s instruction, these teachers are in stage three or four. These teachers are a colearners, reaffirmers, or rejecters, who come to the educational technology table with ideas and methods (Sherry & Gibson, 2002). Many of these teachers, especially now with technology so prevalent, have ideas and ways to modify the instruction with technology. It’s best to collaborate with these teachers to see how the technology can best be used.

However, some teachers will be at stage one or two, learners and adopters, who are gathering information and beginning to experiment with technology. They might feel overwhelmed with the options available. In this case as the educational technology leader, it is your role to serve as a collaborative guide, provide more extensive human and material resources, and how to best use them. It is also important to offer to observe lessons and give feedback that is constructive – do-able ways to improve their incorporation of technology.

In relation to valuing human resources it is important to protect teachers’ time and efforts from non- instructional tasks. Non-instructional tasks would include requiring teachers to diagnose and fix any technical malfunctions that might occur. Instead an IT system is developed in to allow teachers to focus on instruction. As a leader, it is important to make sure IT requests are being handled in a timely manner and the problems are truly being fixed.

Educational technology leaders also need to be proactive and open to risks. Through interacting with others ideas, they should see the value in trying something new in order to reap a benefit, “challeng[ing] the status quo of their school systems by questioning established procedures when they do not serve the needs of the students or their staff” (SEDL, 1992).

Being proactive and taking risks ultimately benefits the students. If students are not learning with the current technology implementation, or if their learning could be increased through better use of technology, then changes need to made. The educational technology leader needs to be proactive about this change, creating teams to work towards this solution. As risk takers, they are proactive about initiating change and encourage others to initiate change.

Support teachers risk taking and technology use, as a educational technology leader through “active participation” in the teacher’s classroom as this is a ” key to school improvement and school reform” (OTEC, 2004). A teacher leader should be able to provide assistance even if they do not have specific knowledge of a certain area they can draw on their overall knowledge of education and ask someone else who might have more knowledge ((OTEC, 2004).

It is important to realize as an educational technology teacher leader that technology is only one “piece of the puzzle.” The goals suggested by RTEC to “start by identifying a few, key places in your core standards-based curriculum where technology can enhance learning, and obtain the software resources to support those activities” can only be achieved through employing strong leadership skills (2002). Having a vision, collaborating with others on strategic plans, viewing humans as resources, and being proactive and open to risks, all lead situation where teachers feel more involved and invested. Technology implementation will occur because teachers feel a part of the process.

References:

NCREL. (2004). Critical Issue: Technology Leadership: Enhancing Positive Educational Change, Parts I: Leadership Overview and II: Change Overview. Downloaded from

http://www.ncrel.org/sdrs/areas/issues/educatrs/leadrshp/le700.htm

OTEC. (2004). Leadership for IT in Education. Retrieved from http://otec.uoregon.edu/school_administrators.htm#Leadership

RTEC (2002). Securing a Learning Return on Your Educational Technology Investment. Downloaded from http://rtecexchange.edgateway.net/cs/rtecp/view/rtec_files/84.

SEDL. (1992). Leadership Characteristics that Facilitate School Change. Downloaded from http://www.sedl.org/change/leadership/welcome.html

Sherry, L., & Gibson, D. (2002). The path to teacher leadership in educational technology. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education [Online serial], 2(2). Available: http://www.citejournal.org/vol2/iss2/general/article2.cfm

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