I’ve worked with many school districts who have implemented a 1:1 initiative. They have experienced a variation in success. The success of an implementation isn’t based on the device, the grade levels, or the learning management system. It all centers on the leadership and the existing culture. Were all of the leaders part of the vision surrounding the implementation? Are all of the leaders good at communicating the expectations clearly and favorably to their teachers? Even if they disagree with certain components behind closed doors, they need to present a united front to their employees, parents, and students. Are they being provided good and ongoing professional development ahead of the teachers? If a principal walks into a classroom and sees a teacher using online flashcards and walks out thinking what an innovative teacher that is, then the professional learning is lacking for that leader.
The leaders need to set a culture of innovation. They need to model innovative thinking, learning, and practice in their everyday lives. They need to be effective communicators with their teachers, and a cheerleader for innovation. And they need to know what to look for when they walk into the classrooms in their schools.
- Successful change management begins and ends with the culture of the organization. Are the leaders relational? Do they seek insight from those they serve? The culture needs to be one of positivity, mutual respect, and an open door for learning through failing. The leaders need to make sure their employees feel comfortable trying new things without fear of repercussion if it fails the first time.
- If teachers and students are expected to be open to change and innovation, then the leaders should be modeling change and innovative mindsets through their own practices. Are some staff meetings held virtually? Are newsletters delivered digitally? Are leaders involved in ongoing professional development? For example, f students are to be utilizing Google Drive, then the teachers, principals, and district administrators should be using that suite of applications, as well.
- All change should be backed with a shared vision and specific goals. The expectations for meeting these goals and fulfilling the vision must come from the leaders. They should be clear, concise, and well-communicated. Every person in an organization should be able to tell you what the vision and goals are surrounding a change. If they can’t, then the leadership team is not communicating effectively. It is better to communicate expectations and responsibilities too often, than not enough. I’ve worked in districts where students were all given a digital device, teachers were expected to use them, but no clear expectations or outcomes were ever communicated.
It takes a constructivist culture, leaders who model expected practices and mindsets, and clear communication at every level to have a successful and sustainable change in any organization. These, along with high-quality and ongoing professional learning, determine the effectiveness of a technology integration.