Last Thursday and Friday I attended the North Carolina Technology in Education Society Annual Technology (NCTIES) Conference in Raleigh, NC. As an administrator, I realize my fellow principals are sometimes reluctant to get away from their schools for conferences that appear to be remotely related to administration. Honestly, I am not sure of the logic behind that thinking. Now that the 21st Century is underway, and we lead schools who are being asked to prepare students for a future that does not yet exist, I can think of no better conference for an administrator at any level or in any department. This kind of compartmental thinking about technology by administrators could perhaps be hindering the advancement of technology in their own districts and schools. As a leader of m y school, attending NCTIES served a number of positive purposes for me.
First of all, there's the modeling factor. If I am going to expect my teachers to be engaged in the use of technology in their teaching, then I must model the enthusiasm and the interest in technology myself. Talk is still pretty cheap as they say, and my attending NCTIES last week was a message to my staff, "I believe in the place of technology in our school and in instruction." Even more important, attending NCTIES also sends them the message that I am not just going to talk about technology. I am going to engage in its use and join with them in exploring all its wonderful possibilities.
Secondly, attending NCTIES was more than just modeling, it allowed me to connect and renew connections with those that I know are using technology to better education in general and teaching specifically. If I am the instructional leader I claim to be, then I need to be engaged, just like my teachers, with others in the exploration of technology in the classroom. At NCTIES this year, I had wonderful conversations with teachers, administrators and vendors about possibilities, and we all know that without looking at the possibilities, we could not possibly claim to have a vision that includes technology and the preparation of our students for the 21st Century. Each year NCTIES gives me the ability to renew the current conversations of how technology is transforming teaching and learning
Finally, attending NCTIES gave me the opportunity to present. Leading means being out front. As a school administrator, that is the true position a 21st Century Principal should be in symbolically. By presenting at an NCTIES conference as a school principal, I can send the message loudly and clearly to my staff and everyone else, "I am a technology user and consumer too, and I see its promise and potential." Presenting helps keeps me engaged in the conversation. It forces me to continue the exploration.and "new adventures" for the rest of the year.
As I reflect on this years NCTIES, Ted McCain and Ian Juke's book Windows on the Future provide clear advice that speaks to all educators but to me specifically as a principal. "We must catch up or face the unenviable prospect of becoming irrelevant." I refuse to be irrelevant in my role as a school leader. I want to be a technology leader. This year's NCTIES has once again renewed my energy to continue as technology advocate for all of my school, and it allowed me to continue to learn about my role as technology leader. Thank you!