“One of the things we’ve really taken a hard look at is reallocation of resources,” said Andrejko. Rather than looking for new sources of funding, she said, “we’re saying, ‘How can we take what we have and use it in a better way?’” For instance, instead of buying textbooks, her district has allocated some of this money to buy digital devices and content.
Andrejko said “bring your own device” initiatives can help as well: “Where that was so taboo before, … we have to accept it now. Our kids have access to networks all over the world—so why would we not allow that in school?”
Wardynski said district leaders must continually monitor their progress toward ed-tech learning goals, because “you have to be able to justify the change every step of the way.” Demonstrating progress can help convince stakeholders to continue funding your ed-tech initiatives, he noted.
Peterson said he’s using technology to create new efficiencies that have freed up resources in his district. Using print management software is saving his district of 26,000 students more than $20,000 a month on printing costs, “which is pretty significant”—and these are dollars that can be put back into the classroom or other ed-tech initiatives.
Still, Peterson said, “at the end of the day, we have to be up front and say [educational technology] does cost money; it’s not something you can do for free. So, you’ve got to make it a priority” in your budget.
In leading the discussion, Pierce asked the superintendents how they would define a “tech-savvy” school leader. Modeling the use of technology and not pretending to have all the answers were common responses.
Tech-savvy school leaders bring everyone to the table—especially teachers—and “empower them to make change,” said Suzanne Lacey, superintendent of the Talladega County Schools in Alabama, which has overcome a heavy percentage of students living in poverty to personalize instruction for every child with the help of technology.
“It starts with us modeling that behavior,” said David Tebo, who leads Michigan’s Hamilton Community Schools. “I’ve said to all of my staff, ‘I’m learning alongside you.’ If I make a mistake, teachers see that, too, and they know we’re not out to get them—we’re here to help them grow.”
“For me,” Peterson said, “being ‘tech savvy’ means having the courage to know there are a lot of folks out there who are much better and more skilled than me—and giving them the ball and letting them run with it.”
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