Technology for New Administrators

A primer for Paul Andrews’s initial administrator course, fall 2016. Updated for spring 2018 with John Rexford’s cohort. (Session led by Rachel Wente-Chaney.)

Part One: Introduction

On your path to education leadership, I suspect you’ll encounter technology on a daily basis. I don’t suspect (or believe) you need to become “more techie” to lead well in this space. (I’m in the camp that believes technology should be becoming more human.) Those of us who get technology understand it’s merely a system for getting something done. Today, when we say the word technology, we often mean a computer system for getting something done. A century ago, it was Ford’s Model T and the use of X-rays in surgery. Time rolls on….

You will want to understand tech well enough to use it effectively for your own work and learning. You will probably be asked for your vision on how to use it in support of your staff and students. You may need to budget for it. Depending on your role, you may also need to troubleshoot it. And, in my perfect world, you’ll have ideas about things you want to do in your schools that technology will be able to support.

In our time together this fall, I want to start with an introduction to technology in our classrooms. The past decade has brought big changes in how we think about and use technology for learning. We’ll talk about the changes and why, in 2016, we’re not going to talk about computer labs and doc cameras and which software to buy. (Hint: we’re going to start with what you want to do and then identify support for figuring out the details.)

I want to end with a list of resources and connections. This conversation we’re having in September 2016? It’s going to be outdated soon. As you begin leading vision and planning in the coming years, I don’t want you to be referring to a list of network speed recommendations, operating system version comparisons, and which NIC is most reliable. (What’s a NIC???) Instead, I hope you’ll be referring back to our conversations and a list of who to reach out to when you have that first set of questions you feel unprepared to answer.

In preparation for our class next week, watch Michael Wesch’s video (on the right). This is an oldie-but-goodie that dates waaaayyyy back to 2007. I’m going to suggest that it illustrates the acceleration point for technology in education for our generation. We’ll follow it in person with some newer videos, but I think this does the best job of setting the stage for our conversation. Things to think about:

  • Yahoo and Blogger and Flickr were featured (and were the big dogs of the Internet, circa 2007). Who are the big dogs now?
  • How do the big dogs affect education, if at all? What are the positive aspects? Negative?
  • Reflect on your personal comfort level with technology. Are you excited about technology challenges you’ll face as an administrator or do they make you want to turn off the internet and keep phones off campus?
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Part Two: Who to Know

There are incredible administrators who share and connect online. They tell their stories and stories of their schools, communities, and students. They share resources, opinions, challenges, solutions, and empathy. They sometimes share trash talk about Ducks v Beavers.

You don’t have to become Donald Trump on Twitter (not a political remark; he’s prolific on social media and a good, timely reference) to get value from social media, be it Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, or the community that catapults to the top next week. Don’t be afraid to lurk online and learn. I’ve added some good follows to get you started.


The Connected Principals hashtag was started and is led by a small group of school administrators that wants to share best practices in education. The contributors have different experiences in education but all have the same goal: what is best for students. (Pro tip: Following a #hashtag is following a topic or group, while following an @account is following and connecting with a person.)

Jason Markey

Jason is the principal at Leyden High School, in the west suburbs of Chicago. He’s one of the most engaged and engaging principals in the use of technology and social tools for connecting his community, supporting student learning, and getting his own work done. Jason started #leydenpride and shares the curating and posting responsibility with a growing group of students, teachers, parents, and community members.

Kevin Bacon

Kevin is the principal of Boise-Eliot/Humboldt School in Portland, Oregon. He’s not as prolific on social media as Jason, but is a great example of a principal who challenged himself one summer to start finding ways to celebrate his students and school community.

Dr. Rachael George

Rachael is the principal of Sandy Grade School in Sandy, Oregon. She is an administrator to follow for both her celebration of her school community and the curriculum, policy, and leadership posts she shares and retweets.

Part Three: Access, Mobility, and Security

This is when we take our introduction and our resources and tackle what I think is important for you to know right now. We’ll have generous time for group discussion and a playful task for reflection.

Rachel Wente-Chaney   |   |   541-693-5636   |   @rwentechaney