Postscript: There’s No Time Like the Future
By Gail Connelly Principal, January/February 2012 A colleague recently told me about the first email she received nearly 20 years ago. She quickly dismissed it as too impersonal, complicated, and odd. “This will never take off,” she told me she muttered to herself as she hit the delete key and instead phoned the person who sent the email.
In those intervening 20 years, information technology (hardware, software, networking, apps) has changed so dramatically and so rapidly that not even the most visionary technology guru could have predicted the functionality and look of the devices we now use or the degree to which we are dependent upon them. Can you imagine leaving your house without your cell phone? Neither can I! Technology that was once unimaginable is now commonplace.
Intel co-founder Gordon Moore forecast this new world in 1965, when he accurately predicted that technological advances would make it possible to double the number of transistors on a microchip every two years, a concept commonly known as “Moore’s Law” that explains rapid change. While I can’t begin to understand the science behind Moore’s Law, I can appreciate its undeniable significance: Computers and computing have become so powerful so rapidly that most of us can’t fathom “the next big thing” or how it will continue to change every aspect of our lives.
Teaching and learning are no exceptions. This issue of Principal features articles that explore what principals can do to ensure teachers and students not only keep up in such a world, but thrive in it. How can you accomplish this rather daunting task?
Consider this sensible advice from NAESP member Kappy Steck, principal of Forest Lake Elementary School in Columbia, South Carolina, (named one of the “Schools that Work” by the education foundation, Edutopia):
“It’s not about the technology. You have to start with looking at your school and the needs of your students. You know that technology is going be a tool, a component of what your students and teachers are going to need. The attitude can’t be ‘we don’t have it, or we can’t get it’. It has to be the attitude of we can do it, but how?”
Kappy’s advice is in perfect alignment with the way most principals already operate: Support teachers and students, focus on teaching and learning, create and sustain a visionary culture, work with the resources you have, and stay positive.
Specifically, the standards suggest that effective principals use technology and manage data to inform decisions and measure student and school performance. Principals who do so:
- Develop a technology-rich culture that connects learning to our global society;
- Make data a driver for school improvement;
- Help adults and students use knowledge to make decisions; and
- Benchmark high-achieving schools with comparable demographics, among other things.
Gail Connelly is executive director of NAESP.