Most ICT leaders in schools are those who are passionate about digital technologies and their use in education. They are the kaiako who have put their hands up to help advance a digital transformation, who are interested in trying out new tech, and who are happy to get their hands on any new software platform or tool that comes across their paths.
In short, most ICT leaders do it because they love technology and incorporating it into lessons. It’s easy to forget that a lot of other educators’ passions and focus lie elsewhere. Not to mention the exhaustion that’s hanging around most of our kura from the last few years of craziness.
The idea of a digital transformation can be overwhelming, particularly for kaiako unfamiliar or uncomfortable with some aspects of technology. Therefore, part of an ICT leader’s task must be to manage this overwhelm and introduce new ideas and concepts thoughtfully.
Here’s how you can help people approach something that might just feel, in the moment, too big:
1. Break it down.
It’s important to build a solid foundation of digital learning skills in your team. To make this task seem less herculean, break the skills down into palatable, achievable chunks and schedule them out. When you know that there’s a plan in place to get to the finish line, it eliminates the panic of not learning everything all at once.
When training opportunities do arise, tie the learning back to a specific baseline skill so it’s clear what progress is being made. This is encouraging and validating—it also keeps everyone on the same page.
As a side note, it’s important to clarify with your team which parts of the journey are essential or baseline skills (expectations) and which are helpful but extra opportunities and resources.
2. Build relationship and engage
This is an important aspect of leadership in general. Leaders should be engaging with their teams, building trust, and ensuring they have all they need to succeed.
ICT leaders equipping kaiako with digital skills can provide the right support in a way that ensures it’s not given all at once. Too much communication in a short time frame will add to the overwhelm, not reduce it. Remember that levels of interest and capacity will differ, and your enthusiasm may be better doled out in small doses.
3. Offer agency with oversight
Most educators know that students need voice and agency in their learning journey and objectives. Similarly, teachers embarking on a journey of incorporating digital technology in their lesson plans need agency—as well as help and oversight from those tasked with leading the charge.
Be prepared to offer ideas, guidance, and resources. Listen carefully to concerns, suggestions, and issues presented by teachers, and take them into account. Give individual kaiako space to create their own version of the digital transformation and find their own seat on the waka.
4. Make the first steps clear
This one is simple but crucial. Ensure that the first steps a teacher needs to take are clearly communicated and that they are not too difficult to understand or implement. Momentum is important, and getting your team off to a good start will improve the chances of long-term success.
Whatever you’re planning to put into practice in your kura, whatever the journey your team is taking, balancing overwhelm with wise leadership will be key to success. We hope these simple tips will help to smooth the way for you!
To learn more about e-learning in Aotearoa and equip your people for digital transformation, get in touch with the Think e-Learning team. We offer one-on-one mentorship for ICT leaders which will equip you to put these suggestions and concepts into action in your own context.