1. Describe your educational technology leadership philosophy and style. Include APA citations and references from leaders in the field that have influenced your thinking; some references may be from leadership and some from educational technology.
My leadership philosophy can be summed up in five words taken directly from the title of a book by Grant Cardone (2016), “Be obsessed or be average.” What this statement means to me is that if you want to experience the best at every level in life, you must become obsessed with making change happen.
As a leader in educational technology, I believe that my style can be described as the Pace Setter (Blanken, 2013). I believe that in education, we need a few more people that are willing to embrace change and then, more importantly, implement change significantly faster than what is happening now. Eric Sheninger once said, “Society changes pretty fast. But one thing remains constant: schools don’t change.”(Sheninger, 2011)
I believe in setting incredibly high-performance standards for myself and for those that I work with daily. I am not afraid to move to the forefront and dive headlong into new programs to see how they work and how they can be modified to best suit my situation. However, I do see that my pace is often difficult for others to keep up with, much less maintain. It is in these moments that I drift into the Command and Control leadership style (Blanken, 2013) but I realize more every day that this style does not often work in the education setting.
Where I aspire to be a leader is the Innovative style (Blanken, 2013). I would love to create an environment where everyone has been empowered to solve problems and be a contributing member of the team. I love to see people create their own solutions and take ownership of problems and succeed in making a change or completely revolutionizing some process or program. That is my ultimate goal.
2. Describe your level of technology skills and how you can use them to help and lead others in your work setting.
Without sounding arrogant, my technology skills are far above average. What most people don’t know or forget about me is that I’ve been around technology my entire life. My journey into education came long after I first started college and was a computer science major. The interests I had back then merged with what was happening in education when I attended the Kentucky Society for Technology in Education conference in 2013. Once I knew that great things were happening with tech in education, I was in with all my heart.
Using technology has always come very easy for me. I was the kid that set up computers and other electronics for my family members. I remember fondly making many trips to Radio Shack with my grandfather when I was 10 or 11. I got my first computer, a Commodore 64 when I was 7. I wanted to know how it all worked and what I could use it to do.
My experience and knowledge have allowed me to see how to use technology to make life easier. I’ve learned how to leverage tech to do new things and help others accomplish their goals. I have also always had the ability to explain difficult concepts to people in such a way that they understand it and can use the concepts or technology themselves. The combination of all these things has enabled me to be a leader in education.
I have had the opportunity to support others in their efforts to use technology in meaningful ways in the classroom. More importantly, I have been able to inspire others to step out of their comfort zones and innovate in their way and provide them opportunities to showcase their talents and abilities.
3. Locate one video that reflects your Educational Technology Leadership, embed the video in your response, and discuss how it reflects your educational technology leadership.
I first saw this video a couple of years ago and watched it several times. I love the title of the video, it’s core premise, and it remains a key driver in my values as an educational technology leader. Adam Bellow (2013) presented this at ISTE in 2013, and he just invited people to change the world.
When I came into education, this is exactly the thought I had in mind. As Steve Jobs once said, “We’re here to put a dent in the universe. Otherwise why else even be here?” (Snell, 2011)
I decided that education is how I was going to make my dent in the universe. Not just a dent but a gaping hole that others would rush to fill.
Adam Bellow’s keynote embodies that thought and the opportunity that educators have to take advantage of in our classrooms today. Not ten years from now. Today.
And that’s the job I have taken on in educational technology leadership.
4. Select two NETS Leadership standards (from the list below) and discuss how you demonstrate (maybe even exemplify) these standards in your work setting.
The first standard I would like to address is, “Lead in the development and evaluation of district technology planning and implementation.”
As a classroom teacher, I have taken the lead in the usage of many new technologies during the past three years. I was the first in the district to pilot the use of G Suite for EDU apps, the first to test new apps such as Kahoot!, Quizlet, Padlet, Plickers, Classcraft, and more. I have consulted with the district as we began a VEX robotics team this school year at the high school and expanded our enrichment programs in the middle school to include an introduction to programming and robotics course. I have helped other teachers streamline their workflows through the use of technology and will, in January, lead our first venture into a district-wide PD based on the Edcamp model that will focus on technology integration.
The second standard I would like to address is, “Candidates discuss issues related to building collaborations, alliances, and partnerships involving educational technology initiatives.”
I have had the pleasure to work with other schools in my district to implement new initiatives in educational technology and continue to do so on a regular basis. I have worked with the primary, elementary, and high school this year to advance the use of technology in the schools. I have published a monthly “edtech hot sheet” to the district, providing instructional strategies and video training to every staff member, including those at the central office.
We also partnered with the Nelson County school district this year through our area technology center so that Bardstown students and Nelson County students can work across domains to share information and classes together. I continue to look for ways to partner with schools and with the community to expand our educational technology initiatives.
5. What is one idea or concept that you will take with you or incorporate into your job after you leave this class?
I’ve thought quite a bit about a 20% project in my class, but I think I may find more success by presenting the idea to our staff. Over the past two years, I’ve seen the value in getting buy-in and support from other teachers to implement new strategies. If I can show other teachers how we can effect change at our school with 20% projects, perhaps we will be in a far better position to implement this program in our classrooms.
When presenting the idea of a 20% project to staff, I would let them know that this is a perfect way to tackle that “one problem” that they each feel needs to change, no matter how small or large. If the problem is significant, perhaps they can find a way to start fixing it with a 20% project.
Regardless of the project, I feel that taking the 20% approach could be very productive for our schools and even the district as a whole. When teachers become invested in making a change, the results can be robust and are far more efficient than when change is mandated from the top down.
6. What recommendations would you have for this course in the future?
Honestly, I don’t have any recommendations for this course. I was allowed to work on projects that I believed in and could prove meaningful to my current job and also in the future. I honestly wish that more courses were offered in a similar format. I’ve gotten more out of this class than many other courses in my career. Which, I believe, was much of the intent of the course.
If we, as educators, can find a way for students to work on projects that they are passionate about and somehow make them fit into the curriculum that we must cover due to state mandates, we will be much further on the path to raising up a generation of students that can be active participants in the world around them.
Bellow, A. (2013, June 28). ISTE 2013 closing keynote, Adam Bellow: You’re invited to change the world. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DrgieoTvDE8
Blanken, R. (2013, January). 8 Common Leadership Styles. Retrieved from https://www.asaecenter.org/resources/articles/an_magazine/2013/january/8-common-leadership-styles
Cardone, G. (2016). Be obsessed or be average. New York: Portfolio/Penguin.
Sheninger, E. (2011, October 10). SLJ Summit 2011: Eric Sheninger. Retrieved from https://vimeo.com/29930975
Snell, J. (2011, October 06). Steve Jobs: Making a dent in the universe. Retrieved from https://www.macworld.com/article/1162827/macs/steve-jobs-making-a-dent-in-the-universe.html