Managing & Leading

Martin Luther King Jr. said, “A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.”  Less often quoted, King followed that line by uttering, “Where there is no consensus, there is no leadership.”

The ITRT’s job has grown at the exponential rate of technology.  As Moore’s law has it, doubling every two years.  The job description is intentionally left vague.  Each school is different, “custom”, so our individual jobs should be molded to the needs of the school.  So we are left to act as independent consultants without independence.

A snippet from Seth Godin on April 17:

“Part of the challenge of selling custom work is that it sometimes seems that everything is up for grabs. You should stay up all night for a week. You should rearrange the orchids in order of smell, because even though it’s not in the spec, hey, that would be good service…Promising perfect is actually not nearly as useful as promising what the rules are.  Boundaries eliminate the temptation to bully. State them early and often and don’t alter them and believe it or not, the client will be happier as well. They didn’t sign up to ruin your life. They signed up to get the most they could from you and your team, and the limits are the limits.”

Seth is talking about folks offering custom work and getting bullied by their customers.

Three ways ITRTs have dodged the bullet and are hiding:

1) 5% of us have just gone into the lab serving TTT-time so the service we are providing is clear to all.  Giving up so much opportunity in instructional technology for job clarity is something even I can understand–some bad days.

2) Some of us have hidden behind excel, using the ritual flags of “data,” “datasorter” and “datawall” as voodoo incantations, cast to obfuscate and confuse.

3) Heck, half the time we are toting around laptops for the standardized weighing of the children.

Needless to say, none of these are solutions for the tsunami of new (as yet unseen) responsibilities pushing our way over the next 24 months.  TTT-time doesn’t integrate the technology into the classroom (where it belongs), sorting data is not helping integrate technology into instruction (where it belongs) and standardized online testing is not integrating technology into instruction (where it belongs).  All of these things are our job, we’re not arguing that.  All are important to the functioning of the school, we’re not arguing that either.  And all three amount to about 8% (in today’s list of duties) of the overall duties of an ITRT in a small elementary school.

So with our job duties about to double in the next two years, how do we manage the limits without the independence to quantify them?  How do we market what we do to our client base to assure we surf the dawning tsunami of new responsibilities and not succumb to the deepness of the waters?


Making of a Model T

The more I read about Education Reform, the more I believe nobody in that “field” knows what they are talking about. Larry Cuban of Stanford is one historian who was also a teacher and superintendent. Most others have never, once, sat face to face with a nine-year-old and gotten something completely unfamiliar across to them.

It is a very rare occasion (like once or twice in a lifetime) in a family situation, that a parent teaches their child something completely unrelated to the child’s experience, and unrelated to immediate experiential need (meaning, “I’m going to teach you to fish because we are arriving at the lake and are going to be fishing for the rest of the day.” type of immediate experiential need). No, the parental “teaching” that goes on in the family is always immediately related to something.

Anything else (like sex education) is immediately farmed out to schools, where professionals can do the work.

So the vast body of “Education Reform” is touted by Politicians, University Professors, Think Tank Wonks, and Vendors with a financial interest. In other words, people who have never actually felt what it’s like to cause a child to learn something they are only learning because they have to. It’s harder than one might think.

Of course there’s the argument if you’ve been educated, you know Education. Which is as ridiculous as saying if you can drive a car, you can design and build a car. Or if you can eat a gourmet meal, you’re a great chef. Or if you’ve been sued, you are an expert in tort reform.

Many of the folks in Education Reform are looking to the intersection of online assessment and remediation as the key. Henry Ford’s model, for Education.

Many of us who are actually Educators, look at this video and shake our heads.

Click below to watch video:

The reason Education Reform rarely works, is because it’s usually a bad idea, badly implemented.

An email I sent to the staff today ….

Dear All (This impacts you):

The Department Of Information Technology sent me an email at noon today with the following information:

“Deployment of Internet Explorer 8 (IE 8) will begin on April 5, 2011 and run through April 22, 2011.”

This means starting today, your computer might act funny when you turn it on over the next few weeks. Don’t worry, it’s not a virus from some sinister outside source. It’s more like a virus from somebody you know.

During the first week, you’ll get an “optional advertisement” that IE8 is available. My advice is, go ahead and download it.

The second week, any computer that doesn’t have EI8 will have it automatically loaded when the computer is turned on. I think they should call that the “optional is optional” plan. You can stop it during the second week by pushing the “restart now” button while it is automatically downloading.

On the third week the “restart now” button goes away. Much like every radio tuner had to be licensed by the Soviet Regime, all computers which are turned on will have EI8 downloaded on them immediately, like it or not, no options to stop it.

So my advice is go ahead and download it when it is “offered,” optionally, the first week. At least then you’ll have the illusion you have freedom of choice.


Good Lord! I’ve Been Filtered Out of Existance

Screen shot 2011-02-24 at 9.43.17 AM


I’ve written about the perils of web filtering just 15 days ago: and it looks like the man has caught up with me.

God forbid if teachers want to get together and discuss how they can better their practice.

Who the hell is making these decisions?  What goes in and what stays free?  Not a thinking person, we know that much.

Why Meetings Matter Less

In our newly constructed edu-corporate climate of “collaborative teaming” there will be, at first, too many meetings for any one teacher to have.

Time will be better served with an online collaborative component. It will save time, and allow people to “process” collaboratively at a time of their choosing, without being face-to-face.  Most importantly, it will allow the time spent face-to-face to be well spent and at a higher level.