What Is a Digitally Fluent Administrator?
As we enter into a new era of leadership, it becomes increasingly more difficult for a principal to be the “everything” person on the campus. Ensuring quality instruction, “managing” the systems of the campus, handing HR concerns, primarily PR contact, counselor of all, in addition to ensuring campus climate & culture, and ensuring student success. That’s a lot of hats! A more recent focus on the “digitally fluent leader” has also been in the forefront of professional development offered.
What does a digitally fluent administrator look like? It may surprise you!
It doesn’t mean that the leaders of a campus know every app, website, or emergent trend in the edtech world. It doesn’t mean that they require their staff to tweet, to blog, to use technology in every lesson. It doesn’t mean that they teachers who don’t use technology are terrible. It doesn’t mean that every staff development involves a click sheet, a new techno tool and a quick paced training. It doesn’t mean they assume all students need a 1:1 program to be successful, or that the students naturally are as proficient at technology as the media would have you believe.
A digitally fluent administrator recognizes that education is different today. They know our students have been born in a generation where they have had smart phones in their world since birth. No longer a “luxury”, connectivity at home is growing, in fact, 70% of Americans have broadband connections at home. Compare that to 2000, where only 3% of American households had broadband access. Administrators should encourage teachers to take advantage of the differentiation and accessibility to amazing experiences/content/LIFE that technology provides. Education should be relevant, meaningful and applicable…and in 2015. that should include technology somewhere.
A digitally fluent administrator takes advantage of technology available to make their job easier. Communication is a HUGE piece of being a school leader. There are a myriad of apps and sites designed to help a campus make connections with parents. From using Facebook to allow a transparent glimpse into the halls to Remind, an app that lets timely texts to be sent, there are so many opportunities to connect with your community. You can now flip your staff meetings to maximize everyone’s time.
A digitally fluent administrator has a growth mindset. They recognize the risks involved with technology, but know the gain is potentially greater. They encourage their staff to try different integrated lessons, and support them in their growth. There should be differentiated professional development that supports the comfort level of teachers with technology. Admin should recognize that we should model what it means to be a lifelong learner, & provide support for chances they may be taking in the class room. Being open to new ideas and receptive to having reflective conversations will help a staff understand that they are in a safe environment. If administrators model this consistently, teachers will carry this practice back into their classroom.
Finally, a digitally fluent administrator should be connected. This is facet that may require the most effort, but have most payout. Connected administrators have global connections that allow the collaboration necessary to help prepare our staff and students to be among the best in the world. That sounds dramatic, but I mean it! There are experts in every field available in various forms of synchronous and asynchronous communities. There doesn’t have a particular “noun” that gets you connected, whichever one is at your speed will be just fine. Nings, forums, Facebook pages, twitter chats, podcasts…all allow connections to be developed at different speeds. All can benefit every learner on your campus regardless of their age.
If Todd Whittaker’s saying, “If the principal sneezes, the whole school catches a cold.” is true, then let all of your sneezes be ones of positivity and digital flu….ency.
Set the tone, leaders!
Amber Teamann is an assistant principal at a K-4 elementary school in Texas. Through her 12 years in education, she has also served as a Title I technology facilitator, which put her on 17 different campuses to help staff and students navigate their digital abilities and responsibilities. Prior to that, she taught 4th grade and loved every single minute. Speaking at numerous conferences throughout her career, both locally and nationally, including ASCD and Learning Forward, she has had an opportunity to share the digital literacy message she feels strongly about for all learners. In addition to blogging for Connected Principals, she is a firm believer in modeling a digital footprint. Her educational philosophy and digital portfolio can be found at www.TechnicallyTeamann.comor on Twitter @8amber8.