Teams: Internal and External
As the largest educational technology conference, National Educational Computing Conference-NECC, is going on, I started to think about the different vendors I work with, the relationships I have with them, and the characteristics that help me choose some venders over others.
As a former athlete and coach, I decided to use the analogy of a team. When it comes to this part of the profession, I have two teams: an internal and an external. To be successful, I must have a strong internal and external team and I am fortunate to have both.
My internal team is made up of the instructional technology facilitators that work in each building. They are an impressive group of professionals. All of them, without exception, contribute significantly to the success of technology infusion into the curriculum. They are a great resource to all their teachers and they are all intrinsically motivated to learn and grow as professionals. When Jim Collins talks about having the right people in the right seats on the bus in his book, Good to Great, I am extremely appreciative with who is sitting on my bus and the seats that they occupy. This would not be possible without the "owner" (my superintendent), who is the kind of "owner" of which most professionals can only dream. Not only is his understanding about the role of technology in education profound, but he is a reputable leader, a confidant, and allows me to grow as an administrator.
However, to be truly successful in educational technology there must be a strong external team as well. The vendors that I have partnered with are people that I trust implicitly; they are people who are willing to listen and allow for constructive feedback about their product. To be a good leader in this field, which is still relatively new, it is imperative that leaders treat the relationship as as a partner-vendor relationship and not as a client-vendor relationship. Administrators should view the relationship with vendors as one that is critical to the learning environment of their students. After all, they are putting the tools of learning into the hands of students and teachers.
This summer, while previewing products, look at the people that are selling the product and ask the tough, yet essential question, "How can I partner with this company to increase the learning and ultimate success of my students?"