Understanding the ISTE Standards for Administrators
The ISTE Standards for Administrators and Why They Must Lead the Way
The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) is a globally connected advocacy organization that seeks to transform teaching and learning through technology and the promotion of adherence to the ISTE Standards.
The ISTE standards are critical because in current practice, teachers frequently demonstrate a love of technology but can become "…more conversant on technology and less so on leadership and thoughtful pedagogy." It is up to educational leaders to bridge this gap.
Equity and Citizenship Advocate
School equity is currently a hot topic in education. In Building Equity, the authors describe an equitable school as ensuring physical integration, social-emotional engagement, and opportunities to learn in a rigorous, engaging, and inspiring environment. All of these elements of the taxonomy of building equity can be enhanced by technology via the relevant ISTE standards.
Indicators in this goal area for leaders include making sure all students have equal access to resources and have teachers skilled in using the edtech to benefit student learning. Leaders are also tasked with promoting, modeling, and developing digital citizenship skills, including the safe and ethical use of technology resources and actively using technology to contribute to society.
Example: The school principal works with the district technology coordinator to develop a 1:1 device plan, taking into account accessibility and special needs for all learners (1.b). The principal simultaneously launches embedded, ongoing professional development to ensure that all teachers are prepared to use digital tools to increase student learning (1.a).
Citing Peter Senge, organizational leadership experts Olson and Simerson stated that organizations build the capacity to learn by moving forward based on shared beliefs, values, standards, vocabulary, and other factors. These factors can become a powerful shared vision for any organization.
The ISTE standards speak to the need for leaders to engage all stakeholders in developing a shared vision of student learning supported by research-based best practices. The ISTE standards for administrators mean that you must also collaborate on the development of strategic planning goals related to technology and actively monitor progress, thus creating a continuous learning cycle. Effective leaders also share the results of their team's progress with others.
Example: The building principal sits on the district strategic planning committee and collaborates with stakeholders to adopt the SAMR Model district-wide, with action steps to help teachers move from the simple substitution of digital tools for their analog counterparts to the modification and redefinition of lessons and projects through the use of technology that will positively impact student learning (2.a and 2.b).
The best leaders empower others and are willing to share leadership. The ISTE standards encourage this mentality with indicators that require administrators to provide for teacher discretion, leadership, and personalized professional development to build overall capacity.
School leaders are also encouraged to drive an innovative and collaborative faculty culture with regard to technology use. This culture should incubate the staff's desire to use technology to meet the needs of a diverse range of students, as well as empower them to build assessments that give personal, real-time feedback to students about their progress.
Example: Instead of hoarding and wielding power, administrators trust teachers to be professional and efficacious (3.a). As part of an ongoing, embedded professional development initiative, building leadership actively makes discussions about edtech a part of the formal teacher evaluation process, building a culture of trust, respect, and professionalism with individual teachers by encouraging them to try new things, providing helpful suggestions and needed resources, and building time into their schedules to make change happen (3.b and 3.c).
As a coach in a previous life, one of my main concerns was to create a system that was bigger than any one personality - to be a caretaker, not an irreplaceable focal point. In education, leadership turnover is all too common and has negative impacts on school culture and student learning. ISTE indicators under this standard encourage leaders to build sustainable teams and systems; to work collaboratively to develop a technology infrastructure, secure current and future resources, and to establish long-term relationships with school and community partners, so that all gains may be sustained over the long haul.
Example: A building principal agrees to chair a district technology committee comprised of teachers, students, and community members (4.a). The principal secures a budget line item specific to technology infrastructure and resources (4.b) and establishes a partnership with a local software development company to sponsor a computer club at her school and to host students for career shadowing experiences (4.d).
A century ago, principals maintained healthy classroom teaching responsibilities. Today, although somewhat divorced from the daily classroom routine, the best educational leaders still set the example as "lead learners" for their schools.
The ISTE indicators in this area require administrators to set personal professional development goals to stay current on edtech trends, engage with fellow leaders, demonstrate efficacy through reflective practice, and to relentlessly pursue continuous improvement as a leadership strategy.
Example: An assistant principal attends a seminar on emerging trends in edtech, participates in a Sunday night education leadership chat on Twitter, and discusses what he has learned with his principal and teacher leaders throughout the following week (5.a and 5.b).
Being Great... for Others
The ISTE Standards for Education Leaders speak to great leadership; leadership within the context of serving, supporting, and developing others. By engaging with these standards and indicators, you are indicating a willingness to put a system in place that is bigger than you; one that ensures equal access for all, follows a shared vision, and empowers both staff and students to reach their full potential.
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