Leaders need PD too! An #ISTE18 reflection for those #notatISTE18

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Recently I attended ISTE 2018 in Chicago. Many of you followed that journey online and we kept the learning going by discussing what we learned in person and virtually. While this is not my first ISTE experience (it’s actually my 2nd), it is the first time that I attended as an education leader thinking about how to use technology to maximize teacher impact. This year, ISTE purposefully created space for education leaders to get together and learn more about the value of education technology, how to apply the ISTE Standards to their professional practice, and why it is just as important for them to stay up to date on tools for technology integration as it is for teachers. Ultimately, I walked away understanding a few things:

  1. There is a movement in education to flatten the distance between senior level leaders and classroom teachers when it comes to the purposeful use of technology to support student learning. It is no longer imperative that only teachers understand what best practices are in this area, but district leaders must be well versed and on board as well so that they can provide the supports teachers and building leaders need.
  2. Leaders are continual learners too. This approach of ISTE (in my view) to sort of create this almost cohort group of senior leaders during the conference made it okay for district leaders to ask questions and discuss problems of practice with people who were experiencing the same things. It was safe for them to say “I don’t know much about edtech.” and receive support without fear. The idea of intentionally targeting leadership above and beyond building principals by creating curated learning experiences with personalized invitations to participate is a trend that I hope is replicated at every other major education conference. It was probably a bit of a lift to pull off but well worth it.
  3. Everyone benefits when all are receiving the same message. When I talked to district leaders at #ISTE18 about their major takeaways from their time together they named digital equity, they named access, and other topics there were directly in line with ISTE’s focus this year. It was a great thing to see!

You can watch short videos from leaders all over the country for yourself if you are still on the fence about the impact of attending a technology conference as a school system leader. For those of you who missed out ISTE has extended learning opportunities throughout the year. See my post on those here.

Remember to lead is to constantly learn, and while others may not tell you the truth, I always will. You have to model the Growth Mindset you expect to see in principals, staff, and students. ~ Dr. Kia