The growth and development of technology in the 21st century has rapidly risen to staggering heights. The desire to enhance learning with technology integration is palpable, but like any tool, it can be used poorly and ineffectively. With iPads, Chromebooks, smart boards, projectors, and thousands of educational applications and websites readily available, principals face the difficult task of spearheading instructional technology throughout their schools within the constraints of their school budgets, and most importantly, what best serves their staff and students.
It is for this reason that Cotsen formed the Principals’ Technology Network in 2014. The goal of this unique opportunity is to provide principals with a coach and a network of supportive colleagues, all of whom are interested in moving their schools forward with the use of thoughtful technology. The coaches are typically Cotsen Alumni chosen by the Foundation and assigned to coach no more than two principals over a two-year period of time. They are released for several days throughout the year to help principals identify and implement their technology goals.
“When you join the PTN, you’re going to have a coach come to your school four times a year,” said Harris. “The first appointment is to discuss the principals’ vision and goals for the school and to assess where the school is with technology. During the year facilitators assist principals and the school technology leadership team to develop and begin implementing a plan.”
A popular component of the PTN is the PTN Dinner & Dialogue Meetings, which are held three times a year to showcase what principals are doing to integrate technology at their site in a beneficial and effective way. These meetings provide principals with an opportunity to engage in dialogue about their successes and challenges in integrating technology into excellent teaching, impact on their school’s culture and communications. The meetings serve as a platform for principals to share their experiences that may help others grow. In the most recent meeting, the topic of discussion focused on communication strategies being used to facilitate the school website and social presence.
“I have had a variety of meaningful opportunities to learn with and from colleagues about integrating technology,” said John Martinez, principal at Rowland Elementary School. “This has informed my own use of technology as well as what we have been working on with staff and students. The conversations, learning of digital tools, practical application, and visits to schools have all worked in concert to deepen my understanding and support the steps I have taken to affect change at my school.”