Adapted from an article that originally appeared in Thrust for Educational Leadership, May-June 2000.
The Role of the Principal as a Technology Leader
High tech companies have been complaining recently that as many as three out of ten available high tech jobs remain vacant because not enough people graduating from college are qualified to fill them.
Too few college graduates, they say, have enough hard science and mathematics training to work in even entry-level high tech jobs. And high tech companies, claiming hardship because of the resultant labor shortage, have convinced a reluctant Congress to temporarily increase from 65,000 to 115,000 the number of H1-B visas issued to foreign nationals, enabling more non-citizens to legally work in U.S. high technology industries.
The reasons for the reported labor shortage are complex, but at least two things are clear:
Equally sure are:
These are certainly pragmatic reasons for devoting more resources to student development of high tech skills. Less practical, but equally important, is the need to be sure that California's students are maximizing their potential as individuals.
Teachers in the classroom can help develop hands-on technology and critical thinking skills among their students. Parents can help encourage their children to work hard, become life-long learners, and prepare for good careers. But what can we, as k-12 educational leaders, do to increase student interest in and preparation for high tech careers - especially when we are struggling for improved student success with basic literacy and numeracy, let alone implementing the latest round of education reforms?
Start with a good example
Educational leaders must set the example in technology usage. They must demonstrate to students and staff around them that technology tools can benefit them in their everyday working lives - in other words, computers are good for more than playing Quake or Detective Barbie.
For the principal at a school site, this means using technology tools - daily. Here's a self-assessment to measure how good an example you set:
Self-assessment rating scale:
0-25 points - Throw away your hammer, chisel, and stone tablets!
26-50 points - There may be hope for you yet.
51-75 points - You're on the right track.
76-100 points - You're a credit to your profession.
101+ points - You're an alpha geek!
Finish with evangelism
Part of setting an example through daily use is making a point of encouraging those around you to use the best tools for their jobs.
Good ways to promote the use of technology among your staff and community include:
Emphasize to those around you that you use and understand the educational and business technology available to you. Provide training opportunities to your staff, and take advantage of them yourself.
Make a dent in the high tech labor shortage. And help produce a generation of tech-savvy students.
Marc Elliot Hall is ACSA's Webmaster. He's accountable to you at (916)444-3216 or via e-mail.
Copyright 2000, Marc Elliot Hall, DBA Sensation! Services