By Ramiro Zuniga, Ed. D.
Let me begin by telling you a short story. This story may sound like it took place back in perhaps the early 1990s but it did not. This story took place late in the fall of 2009.
And so the story begins...
I had just participated in a product demonstration at a school district and had begun to make the usual round of introductions to each committee member. During my introductions, I had the pleasure of meeting a technology administrator and one of the assistant superintendents. As I conversed with both ladies, the assistant superintendent indicated to me that she was in charge of the committee and responsible for carrying forward the final recommendation. I closed our conversation by letting the assistant superintendent know that I would be sending her more information related to the product that we were demonstrating, to which she responded favorably.
A couple of days later I called the technology administrator, as a courtesy, to inform her that I was forwarding additional information via e-mail to the assistant superintendent, as promised.
The technology administrator advised me to send a copy of the e-mail to the assistant superintendent’s secretary. She went on to tell me, in a very matter of fact manner, that the assistant superintendent did not know how to use their e-mail system and would have her secretary print out every e-mail for her to read. The assistant superintendent would then write out a response and have her secretary send it out via the e-mail system.
Needless to say, I complied.
I wish I could say that this story was an anomaly, an exception, or a rare occurrence, but it is not. Today, I find that there are still many administrators uncomfortable with technology. This scenario is constantly brought forth every time that my master level students share similar stories from within their respective school districts.
I share this story to make a point. If school district administrators want a higher level of technology integration in their schools, they must lead the way. After all, if administrators do not view technology integration with much importance, why would anyone else across their district?
I know well enough that the carrying on of an administrative role in a school district can be challenging. However, I also know that being an “educational leader” comes with certain responsibilities related to being innovative and being a role model.
I have said before that it is important that educational leaders look within, take stock, and improve where he or she can. It is in that spirit that I share some leadership principles that I ran across while doing some reading on leadership.
The document that I ran across was the United States Marine Corps – Leadership Principles and Traits. Although I won’t discuss each of the 11 leadership principles and 14 leadership traits found within this document, I will discuss 3 very important principles that certainly apply here.
- Principle # 1 – Know yourself and seek self improvement
- Principle # 2 – Be technically and tactically proficient
- Principle # 5 – Set the example
It is critical that educational leaders know themselves and continually seek self improvement. How else will they know what is out there in terms of technology? Educational leaders must take steps forward to become more technology proficient. How can they really understand the benefits of a new technology if they know nothing about how it works and what they can do with it? Most importantly, educational leaders are always being observed as to what they model. If a teacher sees that his or her principal does not use technology, then neither will that teacher.
Granted, school district administrators are not leading anyone to war, but they are leading nonetheless. And too, this is not the only leadership model that can be referenced, but it is one of the more direct and clear models that I have encountered. Many of the principles in this document can easily be applied to school district administration. I find that the 3 principles listed above apply so well to the technology integration process.