As I working on various things today, I was struck by the amount of work that seems to come along each day which involves some sort of technology. Today was a bit different from most days as we had new students registering at our school (which we are very, very happy about!) With new students comes the usual amount of forms that they and their parents need to fill out (which have been reduced GREATLY by our division this year!) With that done, I toured them around the school showing off all our new upgrades, talking up our Art program and explaining the various policies that we have regarding different things like dress and computers. It was then that I had all kinds of work to do.
We have to register our students electronically with the provincial database, which the secretary does. I have to request a school computer account, have the student log in and make sure that their email account is working. It then becomes a series of requests as we try to get things up and running on the school system. In the mean time, we’re trying to get things going in classrooms with the computers with different teachers requesting things be done. As one of the technology people in our building and having “time”, I get called regularly to do this. Then comes work created by answering and sending emails, getting the various submission dates for the different forms required by different educational departments. This type of action continues as the year progresses as we collect data in the different PLT’s and begin working on our SMART goals for the year.
This is just a small taste of what happens with the addition of technology. This doesn’t include the time planning and using technology in teaching. This involves even more additional time as there are various things that one does including photocopying from a variety of texts in order to get a broad perspective or spending time investigating some of the websites that will be used when investigating a topic. As someone who is somewhat capable with technology, I find that it has not, in fact, saved me any time as a principal or a teacher. If nothing else, it has created additional work as the technology changes at an ever increasing pace, more “people” are becoming “important” giving their opinions about what should be happening in schools, education, society, with students, with parents and other things. Not only is if difficult to keep up with the reading from the various people in my network of working associates, my ever increasing social network increases my access to interesting ideas in many areas and these don’t include the books that are flying off the presses with ways for me to improve my leadership, which seem to change with each new moon, to how to deal with the ever increasing number of students who have a “learning disability” of some sort.
Is if possible to have a life separate from the educational one that I have chosen to live? Has technology increased my workload and given me more things to do? Definitely. However, I have learned that one must not make mistakes repeatedly if one expects to get different results. To do something again and again and expect it to change is, well, down right dumb. This means that if I am going to have “a life” outside of school, I must see where technology can save me time, see where it is using up too much time and begin to make some changes, using techniques from the former to decrease the latter. So, first off, I’ve realized that I don’t need to put my contacts into my PDA or any other contact list. I just past the list from central office into my contacts folder and add the document to my PDA. All my contacts there. Also, I’ve found a To Do list that works and use it exclusively. No more transferring it from one place to another. I use a wiki for many of my communications and planning so I don’t have to transfer anything and I use an online document handler so I can access all my documents without having to use any jump drive or emailing. I plan all my meetings with teachers and other staff in the morning to end before 8:30 so I have time to take care of the minor things at the beginning of the day and use my PDA alarm to tell me when it is 8:30 so I know when it’s time to move on.
Technology – a blessing and a burden
I like all it has to offer but I am becoming more aware of the added “costs” of using it, especially in education. It has opened a whole new way of learning and teaching but it has created unforeseen work for many educators that is just “assumed” will be taken care of in some way. I have come to understand that all excellent leaders realize recreation is as important to good quality work as is hard work. Working longer doesn’t necessarily mean more is being done. As educational leaders, we need to demonstrate this by creating a balance in our lives, focusing on areas outside of school, taking care of ourselves physically, emotionally, spiritually and socially. For many of us, this may be one of the hardest things we do and a great test of our ability to be a complete leader.