As school districts continue to spend time and resources preparing their teachers and administrators to excel at their jobs, especially when major technology implementations are under way, it seems that it would be only logical that their highest-level executives would benefit from professional development opportunities of their own to help them achieve their mission.
Recently, the shifting winds of public sentiment seem to be casting skepticism toward public school officials who leave their districts to attend workshops, roundtables and seminars throughout the country. Several prominent district administrators serve as living proof of the intrinsic value of these opportunities to gather with colleagues from points all over the country to compare notes and allow one another to benefit from their collective experiences leading their districts, including Dr. Stephen Joel, superintendent of Lincoln Public Schools in Nebraska.
“I’ve saved our district a lot of time, and a lot of aggravation, and quite a bit of money,” explains Dr. Joel, “because I’ve had a chance to get around people who have worked out the bugs and (endorsed) some of the products that we ultimately ended up bringing in. Whether it’s a textbook series or the Chromebook versus iPad versus Lenovos, you just go down the list. We’ve learned from other people’s mistakes, and there’s a lot of value in that, in not repeating those mistakes.”
I spoke with leaders from other districts around the country in preparation for my recent article on professional development, “Superintendents Speak Out About the Benefits of Peer Networking,” and one word kept coming up in conversation after conversation: “invaluable.”
In the first episode of the Center for Digital Education’s new podcast, “Where’s Kecia?” our executive director, Dr. Kecia Ray, offers her perspective on the importance of professional development to district leaders in 21st-century education. Please click the link below to hear her full comments and watch for future episodes featuring Kecia discussing additional issues affecting technology in education in America.