Empowered Leadership Fosters Technology Innovation
A key component of the New York City Department of Education’s Children First reforms is the empowerment of school principals. Because principals know more about the on-the-ground reality of their schools than anyone else, they have been given greater power over decisions relating to budgets, programs, and personnel. In exchange for this increased freedom in shaping their schools, principals are held to higher accountability standards.
Many principals have used their increased autonomy to develop innovative practices and programs. However, the tremendous amount of responsibility principals have on both the instructional and operational sides of their schools may limit the time they have to communicate with other principals throughout the City. As a result, best practices can easily get lost in the shuffle of day-to-day realities.
This is particularly true with regard to technology, which is a relatively new leadership arena for principals. For years, technology in the schools has been seen as an “extra.” However, it has become clear that technology is part of the foundation of a 21st-century model of teaching and learning: a blend of face-to-face and online teaching, communication, and collaboration between students, educators, school leaders, parents, and educational partners. This model may just be the next game-changer when it comes to improving student achievement—and improvement is necessary if we expect our children to thrive in the 21st-century global economy.
Profiles of Schools Studied
The eight schools chosen for this project—though they in no way comprise an exhaustive list—all reflect the standards outlined by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). These schools, which range from very small to very large, span four of the five boroughs and have diverse student bodies. They are all eligible for Title I funds and a high majority of their students receive free or reduced price lunch. The principals are exemplary leaders who ensure that technology is integrated into instruction and leveraged to differentiate learning. They have all managed to create cohesive communities in which technology is understood to be an inextricable part of the school fabric, and a foundation for their instructional visions.
To read a summary of the emergent themes from this diverse group of Model Technology Schools, read this project introduction.
The Model Schools
The Model Technology Schools Project is sponsored by the NYC DOE’s Division of Instructional and Information Technology (DIIT). DIIT in conjunction with the Office of Educational Technology would love to hear about innovative technology practices taking place at your school. To share your ideas or for more information on the Model Technology Schools Project, please visit our survey link here.
The Model Technology Schools Project was conceived and led by Bruce Lai, Chief of Staff, Office of the Chief Information Officer / DIIT and Cara Spitalewitz (Education Pioneers Summer Fellow). In addition to the principals, assistant principals, and teachers who were crucial to this project, DIIT would like to thank the following individuals for their assistance: Catherine White, Marina Negroponte, Roya Rahmani, Anissa Moeini, Niko Cunningham, Gazelle Javantash, Hannes Klopper, and Professor Kevin Kelley (Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs), Celine Azoulay-Lewin, Lisa Nielsen, Julian Cohen, Gregg Betheil, Andrew Gallagher, Patricia Paddock, Jane Pook, Troy Fischer, Joel Rose (NYC Department of Education).