Four years ago today I made my very first post here, noting that:
[When it comes to P-12 technology, we] can (and do) pour ungodly sums of money into teacher training, student programs, and infrastructure – these are all good. However, we will see few tangible, sustainable benefits in most places until they have leaders who know how to effectively implement, build upon, and sustain those initiatives. We need more effective technology leaders. We need them in formal leadership positions like principal and superintendent rather than informal, often powerless positions like media specialist or technology coordinator. We need them now.
As David Warlick has noted here and here, we are failing to prepare our nation’s students for their technology-suffused futures. Principals and superintendents have ceded the field to technology companies and students, and our schools are increasingly at risk of being dangerously (and ludicrously) irrelevant to the future in which our children will live.
Four years later I believe that the leadership needs are as great as – or even greater than – they were when I started blogging. Progress outside schools continues at an amazingly (and, to some, alarmingly) rapid pace. Progress inside most schools is sluggardly at best.
Over the next few months I will revisit some of the major themes of my first few months of blogging, highlighting what changes, if any, we have seen over the past four years. I will say at the outset that the current picture is not much more encouraging than it was when I started this blog. We have made some progress, but not at the scale or pace that we need.
So I will continue blogging. I will continue speaking, giving workshops, doing webinars, recording podcasts, and facilitating other types of professional learning opportunities for school leaders. I will start writing and publishing printed books (gasp!) to reach those administrators who aren’t actively learning by reading blogs, listening to webinars, or participating in other social media. I will (finally) get our online School Technology Leadership courses back up and running. I will continue to tap into your knowledge and skills and I will do a better job of creating resources that you, your leaders, and others can use to facilitate needed change at the local level. I will utilize what we’ve done to make a swift and substantial difference in school leaders’ mindsets here in CASTLE’s new home state of Iowa to affect other states and countries. And I will continue to find ways to leverage our expertise and experience and connections to make a difference for students, educators, school organizations, and policymakers. We MUST figure out a way to make this shift happen.
Along the way, I know that I will have your support, your constructive criticism, your occasional participation in some group venture that I cook up, and your vehement pushback. That is MY best learning these days, not the academic journals that I’m supposed to read or the academic conferences that I’m supposed to attend. I thank every one of you 19,211 RSS subscribers, 595 e-mail subscribers, and 6,867 Twitter followers for joining me on this rollicking journey. There are many days when I’m not quite sure what I’ve done to deserve your continued engagement, but please know that I will never take it for granted. I am eternally grateful for all that you’ve done to open my eyes, expand my thinking, and reshape my personal and professional lives in uncountable ways.
My summary of Leadership Day 2010 will be posted tomorrow. The graph of my Feedburner statistics is below. For those of you who are interested, to date this blog has 1,232 posts and 7,298 non-spam comments. Finally, here are the links to my posts for my previous blog birthdays:
Best wishes for a successful start to a new school year. May we make greater and quicker progress than we have in years past…
Image credit: Birthday cake
Happy birthday and congrats on your success. I hope we can mimic your success at Learn it in 5.
Thanks for your excellent contributions to the education blogosphere.
Congratulations, Scott! But are you sure it’s only been 4 years? It seems as if your blog has been in my aggregator (in the Read Me First folder) forever.
Anyway, thanks for all the interesting and thoughtful commentary. Looking forward to what comes next.
Happy birthday, DI.
This gives me pause, though: Four years later I believe that the leadership needs are as great as – or even greater than – they were when I started blogging.
Continue, continue, continue… and write some books. Is that really the best way to make change that’s gone backwards in the four years since you’ve started?
Will Richardson wrote something to same effect the other day, mainly that he’s been saying the same stuff for years.
At what point do we admit that preaching to the choir about digital technology isn’t working and those that don’t want to hear it aren’t hearing it?
We know: if the leaders (read: admin) don’t get it, it won’t happen. And when they don’t want to get it…?
Scott, it’s good to see you around for this long, and it’s good to see the success you deserve. A delight getting to meet you at Iowa 1:1.
Re: Russ’ comments-
That’s it, in a nutshell. Preaching to the choir is fine and all, but it doesn’t cause change outside of those that are already willing to change.
I see two methods that I think might change this:
1. Printed books. Scott, you mentioned these in your article, but I think this is immensely important. For those that don’t read blogs or websites, and for those that are technophobes, books are a familiar medium. Printed books also, for many, offer a legitimacy of form that many don’t find in digital media. The very fact that a book has been printed gives it weight, both literal and figurative, and this weight can help sway those who are reluctant.
2. Political change. Most people, administrators or otherwise, are resistant to change. We have become comfortable with how things are, and the energy/money/fear of change are… unattractive at best. There comes a time when without mandated change we will never make meaningful widespread progress.
There’s more to be done, and I’m happy to be part of it and lucky enough to be here as it all happens.
Keep up the good fight.
I’ve been complaining about this lack of admin support you mention, ad nauseum. Do the blogs we post or PD we lead make a difference, if they’re not listening? Maybe not.
My attitude is that if what I do helps with my own sanity and gives hope to even one more teacher, then it’s time well spent.
So what do we do “when they don’t get it?” We plug away, I suppose.
When reading Scott’s post, my mind was taken to my classroom.
If I took my data to my administrator and showed her how my students hadn’t learned what I (thought I) had been teaching not just for the most recent unit, but the last four years, would “keep plugging away” be an adequate response from her?
I’d like to make a counterpoint to your original post. You say that lots of money are put into Teacher Training and Infrastructure. I’ll agree on the infrastructure part, but training in minimal and often useless (although you are correct that it is often expensive). Five years ago my district spent over $300K on new computers. I asked what our budget was for training and software. Answer: We don’t have one. My description was that that was like buying a Ferrari but not putting any gas in it.
The sad part is that teacher training need not be expensive. Time for Peer-to-Peer teacher training is almost free, and usually far more productive than paid speakers. “Bring and share a technology lesson” usually gets “How did you do that?” and “Mind if I borrow that?” that are genuine interest rather than someone with either no classroom experience or no knowledge in my content areas showing lessons that do not apply to my subject.
You are basically following the chain of command, and preaching to the choir. Maybe you should start preaching to those sitting in the pews? Getting parents on board, I would think, would make administrator and board of education members stand up and take notice. I am very lucky to have new admins who are supportive to the message you are preaching. But not all of us are. Maybe it is time for you to meet the parents? 🙂
BTW – congrats on 4 years!
Congratulations Scott! When I started my PLN in January, you were one of the first I added. Thanks for being a great resource and keep up the good work!