So I got an e-mail from someone who had gotten an e-mail from someone who is a district tech coordinator sitting on the hiring committee for a new superintendent asking for suggestions as to what questions to ask about technology. I’m curious to see what others might come up with, especially since I’m going to be a part of the search committee for my own replacement. (That still sounds weird.) So, what key question regarding technology would you ask a candidate for superintendent (or tech coordinator) in your district? (I’ll share what I sent back in the next couple of days.)
Chris Lehmann says
What is the role of technology in promoting a more democratic school district?
How can we use internet / communication technology to more deeply involve all stakeholders?
What motivates you as a learner? Do you believe that you model lifelong learning to your students?
How would you ensure that the faculty in the district meets the learning needs of your students considering the information gathered from the report entitlted, Listening to Student Voices — On Technology: Today’s tech-savvy students are stuck in text-dominated schools? (see http://www.educationevolving.org/studentvoices/pdf/tech_savy_students.pdf)
“How does technology support learning?”
A simple question but the answer will reveal if a candidate sees technology aptitude as an employment skill or if a candidate also understands that technology can create an environment for learning, creativity, reflection and growth.
Also: “What is the role of free and open source software in a technology plan?” “What are the pros and cons of open source?”
Will Richardson says
I agree Rich. My suggestion was to have the candidate describe how technology plays a role in his personal learning and how she/he envisions that role in the lives of teachers and students. I think all too often we confuse production with learning when it comes to technology, and only one who has really made it a part of her/his practice can truly understand the power of it.
Bruce Fulton says
I wouldn’t ask them any questions about technology. I think that’s what they call leading the witness…
I would ask them pointedly, specifically, and in detail about what their platform, programs and agendas are to scaffold student achievement, accommodate a diversity of learning styles, reach out to students whose learning modalities are demonstrably different from those of previous generations, how they plan to address the unique requirements of special needs / special education students, and what programs they will promote to assure students are proficient in 21st century skills and equipped to compete in a global economy.
Real school leaders are visionaries, not technologists, not accountants, not field managers and not project managers. I don’t care whether they can spout open source or fiber channel. That’s what you hire CIOs for. I want to hear their vision for leadership in a flat world and their commitment to site-based accountability and team-based management. I want to hear about their plans for fiscal responsibility and how they plan on integrating and accommodating the information needs of a variety of stakeholders in local, state and federal government. I want to know what they will use to keep students, teachers, administrators, and the public informed and engaged. I want to know their plans on assuring community buy in and bottom up stakeholder input.
Don’t even talk about technology. They’ll either bring it up or they won’t. If it’s not part of their platform, ’nuff said. You don’t have to ask any more.
Mary Catton says
I would ask, “When was the last time you were in a classroom?”
Bruce Fulton says
In a classroom, maybe, but I think the job is not one that should be evaluated on or require classroom teaching experience. I think our mindset that school superintendents should come from an education background and possess teaching credentials is actually highly counterproductive. Great teachers and great chief executives, either in the public or private sector, require very different kinds of knowledge, skills and abilities.
Today’s largest school systems are of greater complexity in terms of finance and budget, human resources, infrastructure and functional divisions than many Fortune 1000 companies. Supers need to be committed to education, of course. They need to acknowledge that teachers are frontline gatekeepers, and they need to build stakeholder confidence and trust in the decision-making process. But supers are not subject matter experts in teaching. The best ones are subject matter experts in management and leadership. Two very different things.