The importance of the principal in leading technology and innovation

I have been re-reading George Couros’ book The Innovator’s Mindset with my colleagues this week, and I love the parts where highlights a truth I first learned when studying innovative school culture for my dissertation: Principals (school leaders) are the key drivers of technology acceptance, implementation, integration, and innovation in any building. In my experience and observation, if the principal or building leader is a connected, brave, and innovative explorer of 21st century learning, so goes the staff, regardless (for the most part) whether there are great integration specialists or top quality infrastructure or devices. As Couros alludes to in several areas, the mindset and the sense of priority that comes with it is contagious and inspiring.

When principals sit by and hope that tech leaders or rock-star teachers lead the charge, what they often communicate is: I find this important for YOU, but I can’t be bothered. It doesn’t affect me much. I’m not really into that. I don’t have time. Go ahead, I’ll catch up.

What it really says is that this is a low priority.

This is, in my humble opinion, one of the most damaging stances a school leader can communicate. Not every school leader is literate in the kinds of skills and mindsets required in today’s education world, but that is no excuse for sitting on the sidelines or farming that responsibility out on others. Instead, may I suggest a few alternatives:

  • I am learning too
  • What else do we need to learn to move forward?
  • I want to know more about that, how can we learn it?
  • I appreciate Ms. G’s expertise. I hope we can all be where she is by…
  • We are going to try this…
  • Let’s start a list of things we need to learn to stay relevant
  • I’m reading The Innovator’s Mindset 🙂
  • I am working with students to develop…
  • What can I help you develop? (explore, pilot, discover)
  • Who should I connect with to be a better school innovator?
  • What does this look like in another school?
  • What am I missing? What can I learn to understand it better?

The thing is, leadership is about a set of skills that help people grow. One of those people is the leader. There can be no excuse for leaders who act as if the responsibility for innovating and growing to stay relevant is beyond them.

There are hundreds of amazing principals and school leaders killing it out there every day. Connect with them and empower other school leaders to do the same. We are all in this together!

Check out these awesome leaders!


Follow George Couros at @gcouros


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