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Professional Development Administrators

visionWith all the attention being paid to teachers professional development, it is no surprise that administrators' needs have been neglected over the years. Since most administrators receive their knowledge, training, and skills on the job, with the occasional college course or vendor provided by the district, it becomes evident that a greater initiative needs to be taken to prepare administrators for 21st century schools.

For administrators, the internet can be a place to provide information and resources that were not available in the past. Additionally, there are private initiatives such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation or the California School Leadership Academy as well as professional organizations such as the Institute for the Transfer of Technology in Education and the National Association of Elementary School Principals Leadership Academy. Furthermore, the International Society for Technology in Education has drafted a set of five technology standards for school administrators (ISTE, 2009) that can guide the redesign and/or development of new graduate courses and training experiences.
Additionally, administrators and schools can refer to the TSSA Collaborative for specific steps and standards that administrators should take in order to prepare for 21st century learning and schools.

The ISTE standards to help prepare administrators and their schools for the 21st century are:

1. Visionary Leadership: Educational Administrators inspire and lead development and implementation of a shared vision for comprehensive integration of technology to promote excellence and support transformation throughout the organization.

2. Digital-Age Learning Culture: Educational Administrators create, promote, and sustain a dynamic, digital-age learning culture that provides a rigorous, relevant, and engaging education for all students. Educational Administrators:

3. Excellence in Professional Practice: Educational Administrators promote an environment of professional learning and innovation that empowers educators to enhance student learning through the infusion of contemporary technologies and digital resources.

4. Systemic Improvement: Educational Administrators provide digital-age leadership and management to continuously improve the organization through the effective use of information and technology resources.

5. Digital Citizenship: Educational Administrators model and facilitate understanding of social, ethical, and legal issues and responsibilities related to an evolving digital culture. (©2009, ISTE® International Society for Technology in Education)

Finally, more colleges and schools are offering new courses to address the technology needs of administrators. For example, Georgia state University recently redesigned its beginning leadership course, required for students in school administration, to simultaneously introduce students to technology issues and to the fundamentals of leadership (Mehlinger & Powers, 2002).

Why Administrative Professional Development is Important

Effective leadership is one of the most critical aspects of school and district success. However, a NCREL study NCREL found that 70 percent of principals feel ‘somewhat’ or ‘completely’ unprepared to be instructional leaders. Just as teachers need training to become their best, school and district-level administrators greatly benefit from professional development designed specifically for them.

For school leaders to lead and sustain a culture that supports digital-age learning, they must become comfortable collaborating as co-learners with colleagues and students around the world. According to Mehlinger and Powers (2001), "It is no longer possible for administrators to be
both naive about technology and be good school leaders" (p. 218). Yet, to date, the professional development needs of the administrator, as a technology leader, have been virtually ignored. Despite the large amount of time, money, and resources being directed toward supporting teachers' efforts to integrate technology in the classroom, little has been done to either recognize or support the needs of the administrator. “Clearly, it is not reasonable to imagine that teachers, the ‘followers,’ are going to get very far ahead of the ‘leaders,’ their administrators” (Mehlinger & Powers, p.213).

So, what can administrators do? Below is a repository of resources that can help get started. After all, if they are to be the leaders of the 21st century, shouldn't they be prepared to help and support its teachers and students?

Starting Points for Administrators

Professional Organizations

For more resources click here.

Next up, Personal Learning Networks