but i’m just a tech director. who’s going to listen to me? #NEIT #NYCIST

the reality is that everyone in your school should. you’re good enough, smart enough, and, doggone it, people like you. you’re also working with your entire school to make sure that everything it does — academics, pastoral, administrative, EVERYTHING — is as cutting-edge as it could be while still pedagogically sound and easy to use.

but i get the sense that i’m not alone in thinking that sometimes i’m in an echo chamber at my school. a recent posting to the NYCIST mailing list confirmed that others feel the same. the discussion essentially boiled down to coming up with new titles and ways to remove “technology” from current titles, as that would lend more gravitas to what we’re doing. i think this is a terrible idea — if your role is to work with technology, then you should be highlighting your expertise. a good teacher should, in addition to always striving to be a lifelong learner, also look to be as tech-fluent as possible, for the sake of modernity but, more importantly, for the sake of good pedagogy. the discussion really started to take on a vibe of “no one’s listening to me because i might not be high enough of the food chain.” alex ragone, someone who i always listen to when he has something to say, summed up my thoughts on it quicker than i could get them out:

How about, Assistant Head of School… Division Director…  Curriculum Coordinator… or Academic Dean.

 

My 2 cents here:  Until we have senior administration who really understands the need for a great technology program and has a clear vision for where it needs to go, we’re just kidding ourselves creating new job titles.  Although some new job titles will come through those innovative administrators. 

 

The schools where I’ve seen the most change have administrators who get technology, diversity, global education, differentiated instruction, (insert your favorite cause)…  They set the stage direction of the school and then hire great teachers, technologists, etc. 

 

So my recommendation is to start talking to your senior administration about their vision and have them start talking to your faculty, students and parents about it.  It’s amazing how quickly that conversation can change the direction of a school.  

(thanks, alex, for letting me quote your email.)

 

i’ll admit that i’ve been in a bit of a rut lately and have been feeling some of the same frustrations as my colleagues, but i’ve always felt that i needed to make change from the position that i’m in. i’m a technologist, and i like to think i’m a good one, and i think that my role gives me a platform to talk about what’s most meaningful to me and, frankly, what i’m most qualified to speak to. what people choose to do with that information and guidance, the links to articles i send, the contributions i make at our meetings is up to them — but hopefully i’ve built myself enough of a platform where i’ll be heard and listened to. would it be nice to have the title of assistant head, curriculum director, etc.? of course it would. but until that happens, i should be able to hold my own in any serious discussion about my school.

 

i found it very interesting that jonathan martin‘s closing keynote at the NEIT 2010 conference was about next-generation assessment. i was thinking it, but i think someone actually asked what it had to do with them. next-generation? check, we’re all used to throwing that term around. but assessment? jonathan’s reply was that we should be taking back this information to the rest of our senior leadership team and working from there. but that assumes that we all have equal footing on our leadership teams. it was a great discussion, but i’m not sure everyone knew what to do with that info. 

 

we need to start talking things up the chains at our schools. that’s where the discussion needs to start for many of us. we can work on our titles later, but we should be taking strong stands with the ones we have now. until your administration sees that whatever you’re working on regarding cyberbullying, social media, etc., is part of a much bigger educational conversation, there’s more of an impact to be made speaking from your strengths. 

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One thought on “but i’m just a tech director. who’s going to listen to me? #NEIT #NYCIST

  1. I don’t know if you’ll find this perspective useful, but your situation sounds similar to how ad agencies like the one I’m at have tried to figure out how to incorporate digital people into their wider company offering. For a long time digital peope we’re in their own department, but we didn’t collaborate well with other groups. So the response has been to integrate us more into the general agency, with the thought that: at this point, most communications have some digital component. So now we dont really sell “digital services” to clients, but simple include digital as part of our holistic communications offering.

    So maybe part of trying to figure out what to do with technologists in a non-technology based organization is to think about how the role can be broadened, which might actually raise your visibility and influence.

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