By Dr. Ramiro Zuniga
Over the years, I have often been asked to share practices as a technology leader that have made a difference. I have always been happy to do so. I have always felt that all of us, as educators, are in the same boat. We are all looking for better ways to ultimately serve our students. And so I share.
So, as I wrote this post, two specific practices came immediately to mind. As I thought about these practices, I realized that these practices have served me well professionally. Not only did these practices allow me to better support district personnel, but they also resulted in being viewed as a technology leader in a very good light. This was affirmed through a recent conversation that I had with a campus principal.
The first practice that I speak of is that of making campus rounds. I have always felt that it would be impossible for me, as a technology leader in Central Office, to know what was really going on without doing this. I have also felt that taking the time to visit each principal, at their campus, made them feel like I considered them a high priority.
Typically, my rounds have consisted of simply dropping in at a campus to speak to the principal. I never scheduled an appointment. I simply walked on campus and asked if the principal was available. If the principal was available, I would meet. If the principal was not available, I would move on to the next campus. Over time, this has allowed me to develop a relationship of trust with each principal. High on my agenda has always been to ensure that each campus was being served well by my department. I also made a point to let principals know of major technology developments and initiatives. The most important thing during these conversations, however, has been to listen. Interestingly, conversations often moved beyond technology needs. This is where each relationship really flourished.
It doesn’t matter if this practice takes place in a small or large district. This practice allows for principals to be heard. Several principals have expressed their gratitude for considering them a high enough priority to give them individual attention and time.
The second practice that I will speak of is really a mindset. Throughout my career, I have never considered any grade level to be more important than the other. I have seen to many times where secondary grade levels are given higher priority over elementary campuses as it relates to providing technology. I think that it is a mistake to believe that technology is used more at secondary campuses than the elementary. I can recall a kindergarten teacher that spoke to me at a technology conference about her students. In her class, she taught her students to log onto the district network. Even today, I hear many educators speak about this concept being beyond the comprehension of elementary students.
I have seen many times where technology equipment is purchased for a middle or high school and have the old equipment repurposed for elementary use. In my mind, this is so disrespectful to the elementary principal, teachers and students. In a sense, it makes them feel like second class citizens. I can recall having a conversation with a principal that had received repurposed technology equipment. In our conversation, he wondered aloud, “Why can’t my camps ever receive new equipment?” The only that I could do was to agree.
Ultimately, the one thing that these practices have in common is the concept of understanding and respecting those that you support. I think that it is a very good practice to treat every campus and every campus principal as high priorities. After all, every campus and every grade level is charged with providing the highest quality education for each student.