Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Leadership 2008

Check out my contribution to Scott Mcleod's Leadership 2008 on his blog Dangerously Irrelevant.

Utilizing the National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) for administrators seems like the ideal place to establish effective technology leadership. Administrators should be able to provide guidance in a variety of situations, and implementation of technology throughout the curriculum is no different. Administrators must also possess an enthusiasm about technology and the benefits it can bring to a 21st century classroom. In the absence of this interest, teachers often view technology as a passing fad that can’t possibly be better than the methods they have used for the past twenty years. Teachers need to realize effective teaching combines these traditional methods with technology to bring about more student engagement. This is most successful when there is strong administrative support and leaders create learning communities that empower teachers to collaborate and learn together.
The main emphasis for an administrator should be to establish, articulate, and bring clarity to the technological vision for the school. How will we utilize this technology to better educate our students? Are we being proactive in our planning by scheduling training for the teachers? These are important questions to consider beforehand. Possessing the technology is not enough in itself; professional learning opportunities must be provided for the faculty. In some cases, the actual acquisition of the newer technology is the chief goal, with little planning for the uses in the future. There are countless stories of money being spent for new technologies, yet little time being invested to train teachers in the actual classroom use of it. Planning for the acquisition and the implementation of the technology is of paramount importance and the administrator should be an active leader.
Technology plays a vital role in the education of our 21st century students. Eight years ago we entered into a new century; unfortunately, some teachers are still unwilling to adjust the status quo of the past. Administrators hold the responsibility to redirect these teachers toward current methodology and the eventual incorporation of technology in their curriculum.
(Leadership Day 2008)
Tags: Technology Leadership

Friday, July 18, 2008


Guidelines and Targets

Webster defines a standard as “something considered by an authority or by general consent as a basis of comparison; an approved model.” Standards, by my definition, are guidelines, models and meant to be used as a foundation for instructional design. By utilizing standards in this way, teachers become less reliant on outdated material, have a clear and current view of the objectives for their course and still have the flexibility to adapt their instructional planning to the needs of their students. However, as the federal government has become more involved in the direction of public schools with NCLB, the standards and the tests that follow, have been overemphasized to the point of frustration.
The standards based tests have become the ultimate high stakes chip in the assessment of students and their schools. The test scores allow for unfair and unequal comparisons of student to student and school to school. An ‘A’ student can fail the exit exam and be held back or required to attend summer school for “remediation” despite the fact that they can explain, interpret and apply what they’ve learned in school.
This over reliance on summative assessment is the ultimate example of the assumption “works well in theory.” However, in reality this practice leaves much to be desired. This square peg into a square box mentality hinders a teacher’s ability to adapt to an ever changing classroom environment. Some teachers are amazed that of the 25 students in their class, there are varied learning styles each requiring different methodology. How will they cover all the material for the end of the year tests? What will determine the pace at which they move from concept to concept in their class? Hopefully it’s not a pacing guide provided by state officials dictating that they cover this on this specific date. It should consist of two interrelated factors. How well you have taught the material and more importantly the proficiency level of the students, how well they understand the concept. When our students are on chapter four and we’ve paced ahead to chapter seven to cover the material, how can we justify this to the students left behind? Coverage never equals understanding.
Teachers must have the ability to teach to the needs of their students and this responsibility should be enhanced not hindered by the standards and high stakes tests.

Mr. Gerry Kosater

There are two paths you can choose but there's always time to change the one you choose