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This is an updated version of a post that appeared on June 23, 2014.
When the ground keeps shifting beneath your feet and the path ahead looks different every day, it’s difficult to know just where you’re headed — or how to help others get there. Yet this is exactly what today’s education leaders have been charged with.
It’s no wonder, then, that many school and district administrators feel like they’re floundering. In the traditionally slow-moving field of education, technology has become the critical X factor that accelerates, multiplies and transforms everything it touches.
“We’re in a different time now,” says instructional technology specialist Kyle Pace. “Teaching and learning is different. Leadership is different. It should be.”
Qualities of a digital age leader
In a blog post, Pace outlined five important traits of education leaders, which in truth apply to any leader tasked with guiding a team through rapid change. The need to instill trust, make people feel valued, exercise empathy and commit to self-growth should come as no surprise. But one trait many leaders struggle with — and which may be, arguably, the most important for education leaders right now — is the ability to encourage risk taking.
“As a leader are you encouraging teachers (and are teachers encouraging students) to take risks? To be brave, bold and step out of that comfort zone?” he said. “In terms of technology and social media, I think of it this way: Don’t deny the existence, invest in the potential.”
Most of the traits listed above, including encouraging risk taking, are outlined in the 14 Essential Conditions ISTE has identified as the necessary prerequisites to meeting the ISTE Standards.
Watch the video below to why the Essential Conditions are the foundation for learning and teaching.
One of the steps toward becoming a technology-ready school or district is to cultivate empowered leaders at all levels who “are able to make critical decisions about their own teaching and learning, help each other solve problems, and enact change within and across their own spheres of influence.”
A standards-ready school or district ideally operates under a shared governance model in which leadership and decision making are distributed from the bottom up so all teachers and staff feel empowered to experiment, take risks and adjust their course accordingly.
The job of an education leader, then, isn’t just to lead but to create more leaders.
Leading to inspire
It’s one thing to lead a group of educators who are champing at the bit to bring more technology to their classrooms. It’s another to drag reluctant educators into the digital age.
“If today’s principals want to effectively harness new technologies and use them to motivate, inspire, lead and support others in their seamless integration and use, we must begin with ourselves,” said Rosie O’Brien Vojtek, a school principal and former president of the ISTE Administrators Network.
“Administrators must find ways to hook teachers by showing them how technology can help them teach more effectively as well as help students achieve their learning goals.”
Today’s education leaders play a tremendous role in bringing forth a new era of learning and teaching. Are you ready?
ISTE’s award-winning Lead & Transform Diagnostic Tool offers education leaders a starting point for making the transition to a technology-rich and standards-ready learning environment. Find out why Tech&Learning named the diagnostic tool an outstanding educational technology tool.