Empower Leaders at
Every Level to Effect Change
AS I SEE “IT”
By Susan Poling
Susan Poling is the
technology coordinator for Shelby County
Schools, which serves
28,000 students in
Columbiana, Alabama, USA. She has 20
years’ experience as a
coordinator and has
served as an officer for
the Alabama Education
an ISTE affiliate.
T he days of submitting a hodgepodge of continuing-education credit hours to maintain administrative certification is a
thing of the past in Alabama, USA. Now, every
administrator must complete a long-term, cohesive professional “study” in each of the state’s
administrative standards over a period of years.
Luckily, one of these standards is technology.
Even better, our superintendent selected this as
our district’s focus for the 2010–11 school year.
Receiving dozens of hours of dedicated training time with school administrators was a first
for us, so I guess you could say that we went all
in. For nearly a year, five of us spent 25 hours
every month planning and orchestrating the
presentations, hands-on sessions, demonstrations, school visits, and online activities that
comprised our study. Add to this the number
of hours that guest planners and presenters contributed, and our total investment easily added
up to thousands of hours.
But, just as in poker, going all in is risky.
In this case, the risk came from shifting our time
and attention away from our teachers.
All those hours we poured into the administrative study was time we did not spend planning
and conducting teacher professional development. That’s a scary thought, as fewer and fewer
teachers had been attending our workshops over
the past two years. On top of that, we saw a corresponding slide in classroom integration.
These declines didn’t make any sense. The idea
that teachers would not want to take advantage
of the cool new technologies at their disposal
was simply counterintuitive to us. But no mat-
ter what formats or topics we tried, we could no
longer seem to entice them. We needed a dra-
matic change in tactics, and the administrative
study became our ace in the hole.