you investigate why technology is working in a particular school district,
you will usually find that the way the principals, superintendent, or other
school administrators are functioning has a lot to do with the success.
And if things are not going well, the performance of school administrators
often emerges as an important factor. Perhaps most distressing are those
situations where the administrators are stumbling blocks for teachers who
would otherwise be able to make much better use of technology.
offered the opportunity to write an article for this issue of MultiMedia
Schools, I jumped at the chance, since many MMS readers are
school library/media specialists or technology directors. As chairperson
of the collaborative that is developing the Technology Standards for School
Administrators (TSSA), I believe that school library/media specialists
and technology coordinators can play vital roles in achieving real impact
from the TSSA project.
One Principal's View
Martinez Elementary School
all, I believe in standards. I am a pretty new administrator, having completed
my first year as principal of an elementary school in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
We use our district and state standards, and, last summer, I was involved
in writing the technology standards for our district. I was the only administrator
working with five teachers integrating technology in their classrooms.
I learned a great deal from them. I hadn't integrated technology in a lesson
since I was a teacher, 4 years previously!
that we all need standards. The Technology Standards for School Administrators
Project has many powerful ideals. Of course I wish I were Wonder Woman,
but no principal can do all this herself.
As far as
the first requirements for technology to benefit our schools are concerned,
hardware is not useful in itself. We have seen this in the past decade
again and again. The applications and wiring added to the hardware make
them useful to some—but only some. Too many unused computers have become
the biggest issue here. The "haves" and the "have-not's" in this instance
are the teachers who have had training and those who have not,
the teachers who can apply the training and those who cannot,
and those who have time to "mouse around" versus those who do
not or will not. Many if not all of the teachers who are computer
savvy have become so on their own time. Evenings, summers, and other non-contract
time is the only time available for teachers to learn what is essentially
of the administrator in effective integration of technology is critical.
Inspiring leadership can't happen in a vacuum. The effective principal
must trust and rely on the children, staff, and parents to build the vision
together. All types of technology must be used to communicate this vision
widely. The principal needs help in modeling innovative uses, working with
teachers and students on projects showing one's own learning and creative
potential. I believe this is where TSSA will play a vital role.
can be sent to Marguerite Baca, Principal, E. J. Martinez Elementary School,
401 San Mateo, Santa Fe, NM 87501; firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Critical Necessities
required for technology to benefit our schools? Of course, the first critical
necessity is hardware, and enough of it to be consequential. Fortunately,
we are past the days when the deployment of computers involved putting
a computer or two in the library or media center or on a cart that was
moved from classroom to classroom.
throughout the U.S. have enacted bonds. State legislatures have appropriate
funds. These and the existence of the E-Rate have enabled schools to purchase
needed hardware. There may not be many schools in the U.S. that have all
of the needed hardware, but there is now a substantial number that have
element needed in order for technology to be used effectively in classrooms
is applications. The software or access to the Internet is required so
that students and teachers have something to do with the hardware. While
this may seem obvious, I have actually been in schools that bought hardware
but did not buy application software or network connectivity for it.
element is the capability of teachers to use the technology. We all recognize
now that even the best hardware and applications are of little value if
teachers are ill-prepared to make use of them. And preparedness goes beyond
knowing which key to press! Teachers need to know how to harness the instructional
resources that the technology provides to really add value to teaching
and learning in their classrooms.
critical element—the capability of administrators as it pertains to the
effective use of technology work in schools and school districts—has only
recently begun to be recognized. The importance of the role of school administrators
in efforts to derive benefits from technology in schools should come as
no great revelation to readers of MultiMedia Schools, but it remains
the least obvious of critical elements.
A Short History of the
Standards for School Administrators Project is the result of conversations
begun almost 3 years ago among several of us who are now members of the
leadership group for the TSSA Project. We recognized that teacher capability
to make effective use of technology as an instructional resource was absolutely
essential. Yet there seemed to be less recognition of the importance of
the role administrators play in this regard than was warranted. As the
teacher standards developed by the ISTE Nets Project had been valuable
in helping to define exactly what skills and knowledge teachers needed,
we believed it was time for a parallel project focused on school administrators.
of course, that the development of standards for school administrators
should be a broadly participatory process involving major stakeholder organizations.
So in February 2000, the TSSA Collaborative was officially formed (see
the box below).
In the fall
of 2000, we convened two expert forums to generate potential items for
the standards. In January, an intensive writing session was held involving
a select number of people who had applied to participate. This group produced
the first draft, which was circulated widely and used to elicit a large
volume of suggested additions, deletions, and modifications. These reactions
are being used to create the final document, which will be published in
the fall. [For more, see http://cnets.iste.org/tssa/.]
How Can Library Media
that emerge from TSSA will define what school administrators should know
and be able to do in order to contribute to the effective use of technology
in schools. This of course is not an attempt to turn administrators into
techies but to define capabilities appropriate and necessary to their role
that documents do not make schools better. But what happens because of
documents can make schools better. This is where I think school library
media specialists and technology directors enter the picture.
little doubt that many school administrators in the U.S. aren't where they
need to be with regard to their role vis-à-vis technology.
Technology has exploded into our lives in general and into our schools
in particular. All of us—and school administrators in a very important
way—face the task of acquiring the new skills and understanding which make
us successful in the face of the vast information and technology resources
that have emerged in the past few decades. And so we all need to be developing
resources to assist school administrators. All of the members of the collaborative,
as well as participating member organizations and numerous other regional,
state, and local agencies and organizations, will be involved in this process.
library media specialists and technology coordinators can help in these
The above suggestions
are only intended to help you begin to think about your own situation.
The needs, problems, opportunities, and personalities vary considerably
from situation to situation. All of this boils down to two rather simple
but important points: First, we will never really achieve the promise of
technology in our schools without more and better involvement of school
administrators. Second, the media or technology director can be an extremely
valuable ally for the school administrator in achieving the level of professional
capability defined by the standards.
Help make your
school administrators aware of the standards. I wouldn't suggest using
them as a bludgeon to beat upon recalcitrant administrators, but the administrators
in your district or school may be unaware of the TSSA standards and you
can provide a service by making them visible.
Along the same
lines, many school library media specialists and technology coordinators
are involved in technology planning committees or other technology committees
in their school districts or states. The TSSA standards could play a vital
role in such planning processes in the same way that the NETS standards
for teachers have been used.
will generate a need for professional staff development. Media and technology
directors can play a vital role in implementing such staff development,
focusing on the kind of staff development appropriate for school administrators.
The staff development in technology for administrators needs to be linked
closely to the job demands of school administration, and the TSSA standards
will provide a useful template for the various aspects of training. In
some cases, the media director may be able to provide the staff development
him- or herself. In other cases, the media director may be a resource in
helping to identify others who can provide the training.
One of the major
categories of the standards is focused on "Productivity and Professional
Practice." Media and technology directors can be proactive in suggesting
to the administrator ways in which they can make use of technology. Library
media specialists routinely take a proactive stance in dealing with teachers,
but too often they don't see school administrators as people they can support
and encourage as they do teachers. For example, a technology director may
know that the superintendent needs to make a presentation to a community
group. The media director could offer to help the administrator develop
a PowerPoint presentation that the administrator can use.
feel information overload than information deprivation, so dumping lots
of journal articles, documents, forwarded e-mail messages, etc., may not
be terribly productive. However, library media specialists can be a front-end
filter and pass along information useful to the administrator.
consists of the following members:
to the organizations in the collaborative, the TSSA project is being supported
by a number of other participating organizations that are listed on the
TSSA Web site at http://cnets.iste.org/tssa/.
of School Administrators
of Elementary School Principals
of Secondary School Principals
of Service Agencies
Society for Technology in Education
Regional Technology in Education Consortium
Regional Educational Laboratory
Education Board, Consortium for School Networking
Department of Education
Executive Program—University of North Carolina
University—College of Education
expertise of ISTE in developing standards, the consortium asked that organization
to serve as the operations manager for the project. Don Knezek is the project
director and Heidi Rogers is the co-director. Support has been provided
by Apple, Chancery Software, LTD, Microsoft, NetSchools, NSBA-ITTE Network,
Teacher Universe, and the U.S. Department of Education's Preparing Tomorrow's
Teachers to Use Technology Program.