How to be an effective 21st-century education leader

Being tech savvy is now an expected part of the job for today's school superintendents.

Today’s K-12 superintendents must be forward thinkers, bold leaders, and skilled communicators in order to lead their schools effectively in the 21st century, said the winners of eSchool News’ 2012 Tech-Savvy Superintendent Awards.

Sponsored by GlobalScholar and JDL Horizons, the 12th annual Tech-Savvy Superintendent Awards recognized 10 senior school district executives from around the nation who demonstrate outstanding leadership and vision in using technology to advance their district’s goals.

The winners were honored at a special awards ceremony Feb. 18. The ceremony was held in conjunction with the Century Club 100’s annual meeting during the American Association of School Administrators’ National Conference on Education in Houston.

“Back when we started this program 12 years ago, an understanding of technology and how it could be used to streamline school operations and improve teaching and learning wasn’t necessarily common among superintendents, but I don’t think the same could be said today,” eSchool News Editor-in-Chief Dennis Pierce said in presenting the awards. “Today, it’s now an expected part of the job.”

But while there is now a broad consensus on the importance of technology in schools, implementing it effectively is still a challenge, Pierce noted—especially in today’s economy.

“Being tech savvy today means not just understanding the need to support technology and keep systems up to date; it also means having the skills to communicate this need to board members and the community, especially when budgets are shrinking,” he said. “And being tech savvy means not just filling classrooms with more stuff, but really leading a change in instructional practices to better meet the needs of today’s students. … These are among the many challenges that [this year’s winners] are meeting in their schools, and we’re proud to acknowledge their success.”

November challenged listeners to consider students' home environments, too.

The ceremony featured a keynote speech from Alan November, a former classroom teacher and ed-tech pioneer who co-founded the education consulting firm November Learning. November challenged his listeners to make sure they include students’ home environments in their strategic plans.

“What is your plan for making every home a center of learning?” he asked those in attendance. “I’m concerned that we’re spending too much time fixing schools as the dominant focus in helping children succeed.”

(To watch Alan November’s keynote speech, click here.)

Before the ceremony, the winners sat down with Pierce to discuss the qualities they think are important for today’s superintendents, the initiatives they’re most proud of having led in their schools, and the advice they’d give to colleagues in piloting schools effectively in the Information Age.

To hear what the winners had to say, click here.

The Tech-Savvy Superintendent Awards recognize excellence in ed-tech leadership from the very top level of school district administration, and they hold these exemplary leaders up as models for others to follow. The awards are presented by eSchool News with additional support from the Consortium for School Networking and its “Empowering the 21st Century Superintendent” program.

To watch the full 2012 awards ceremony, click here.

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