Denver Workshop at NAIS: Analyzing NAIS Schools with Jim Collins Good to Great eyes and the Collaboration Hypothesis
BLOCK 3 Workshop on Thursday March 1, 2007 (1:33-2:33)
The theme of our workshop involves taking a "Jim Collins approach" to best practices with technology
in our schools and exploring the top ten "best practices" that correlate with successful
technology programs in NAIS schools. What I have been calling for 10 years the collaboration hypothesis is my belief
that "when a key technology leader meets regularly and collaborates with a key administrative non-tech person, this correlates
with a high degree of certainty with significant G2G technology progress. In contrast, my observations, travels and data suggest that
the money hypothesis is not valid, i.e. there is no correlation between schools that spend significant money and G2G successful technology programs. The collaboration hypothesis fits in well with the Lexus and olive tree metaphor since in the best scenario, the model example of collaboration is between a key tech person ("the Lexus") and a key administrator ("the olive tree").
Steve Bergen ( CIO, The Chapin School and co-director of The Summercore Teaching Company
John Neiers: Director of Technology, The Dalton School, NYC and
MJ Quigley: Asst Head, The Chapin School, NYC
Ten Best Practices from NYC
hypothesis occurs when a key Tech leader works closely with an administrator on
planning and phasing of tech initiatives.
See examples #1, #2, #3, #4, #6, #7, #8.
|2||Creating the spirit of piloting and
pioneering. Via the use of pilot programs in introducing new projects,
the program can be evaluated and shaped based on initial experiences.
The goal is to create a culture of innovation. See
examples #1, #5, #6.
|3||There needs to be
a level of accountability
("data driven") for each tech initiative: When hardware/software is
distributed to faculty, there needs to be some type of accountability for the
receiving and usage of hardware/software. Linking new hardware
with professional development: training should always be tied to
receiving hardware and software.
|4||Providing hardware via
a thoughtful systematic practice. Tech initiatives should be staged and
should be linked
with your strategic plan in terms of time and resource priorities.|
||Publicizing your tech initiatives is crucial. See examples #1,#4, #5.
|6||Thinking differently about faculty paradigms: faculty meeting
presentations should focus on "sharing not presenting" and teachers
should create conversation starters not proposals regarding technology.
See example #8.
|7||Creating a balance between tech committees, mandates,
and small groups in the decision procedures for "moving forward." See example #7.
administrators need to be well versed in tech vocabulary and need to be
the cheerleaders, e.g. tech workshop for the Admin Team by tech
department or administrators becoming even becoming more savvy about the
number and types of databases. See example #8.
|9||The key tech person needs
to be on the Admin team and needs to be on educational side of the
pendulum as well as the kind of person who folks would want as part of
all discussions. See examples #1. #2, #6.
by inch, one step at a time paradigm is crucial (wind sprints in what is going to be
Example 1: I spoke with Dolly Ryan (Director of Technology,
Belmont Day School, a Pre-K to 8 school) in Belmont, MA) ... she spoke to me about
key relationship with her head of school and the fact that they both agreed on the central idea that
technology needed to be modeled by the key administrators at the school if there was going to be teacher buy-in ...
together in collaborative fashion, they decided they needed to effect a plan to do in-house training ... Dolly is a member of the Administrative team there which
like most schools meets weekly on an a variety of issues. Topics such as Internet usage and 1 to 1 computing get discussed in collaborative fashion
by these key administrators.
As a result of this collaborative synergy, Dolly created a professional
development program called the Pioneer Program after doing several
workshops with Lynne Schalman, Tom Snyder, and a host of others. Since its
inception she has been sharing the success of Belmont Day School with other schools (namely BB&N
lower school and Shady Hill) on how the process has worked and how it has made them
successful with incorporating tech into the curriculum while engaging our
teachers. Dolly is presently waiting to hear from ISTE about presenting this topic
on a panel at their summer of 2007 conference.
Example 2: I spoke with Mark Crotty (curriculum director,
Greenhill School, Dallas TX) ... he shared how a new
synergy is helping with technology at their school. By virtue of the ongoing relationship between Mark (curriculum
director) and Chris Bigenho (Dir of Educational Technology), they are now re-thinking "information literacy" .. as Mark writes:
"we did some restructuring of our tech department heading into this year,
and it has led to a much more collaborative relationship between myself
as academic leader and our director of educational technology. We've
already seen the payoff in terms of making things happen in the
Example 3: I spoke with Elizabeth Cohen (Director of Technology, 6-12
Atlanta Girls' School) where they have a Mac laptop program for
all their students. Interestingly, the entire Admin team and the 2 tech people had
read and discussed pertinent chapters of "Good to Great" and the
monograph, "Good to Great and the Social Sectors" at the start of the
Elizabeth writes "we are a fairly new school, 7 years old, with a prime
mission to educate young women. We emphasize math, science and
technology. We are a 1:1 school. The administrative team meets once a
week and each member of the team has an individual meeting with the
Head of School weekly. We keep to this schedule, even if it means some
inventive scheduling to make it happen. Because we are at the beginning
of our growth, the money hypothesis is not even a choice for us. In
order to accomplish anything, it must be through collaboration. At
this point in time, our initial investment in laptops for teachers
needs an upgrade. Because I meet with her regularly, our Head,
although a non-tech administrator, has become very knowledgeable in the
technology needs of the faculty. Through our meetings, we were able to
write a grant that has funded us at 50% of what we need to bring new
laptops to all of our faculty and staff next year. Collaboration
throughout the administrative team is the key. If we are going to
continue to grow and succeed as a new, independent school, we must work
as a team, partnering with each other and foster relationships. I will
be presenting a workshop describing how we use technology to teach to
the special strengths of girls at the Lausanne Laptop Institute in
Memphis TN this summer."
By the way, what I also gleaned from Elizabeth in our phone call is that they handle financial aid regarding their laptop program at the same percentage as for tuition and that that
they image the laptops with a software base selling to families and working with a consortium. They do not require insurance since they have found that
these processes take forever to resolve.
From Stewart Crais,
Director of Technology at
Lausanne Collegiate School in Memphis, TN ... "No school in this area does nearly what we do with technology and it is because of
our staff structure as well as the fact that I am part of the administrative team
of the school. The level of support from the key administrators here has been the essential
factor in creating both our 1 to 1 program in 2001 and our Laptop Institute in 2002. Many
I was on my own at first and not connected with computer teachers who now report to me. The level
of teamwork and collaboration here has changed and I now oversee Media Services which is part of the
library." After speaking with Stewart on the phone, it was clear to me that the collaboration
hypothesis applies to his situation. After speaking with Stewart, I started reading the 2004 book
that he co-authored with Pat Bassett titled
Looking Ahead: Independent School Issues & Answers.
=\ppppppppppstingly, Craig and Pat have a paragraph that is in effect about the collaboration hypothesis: "Leadership style is an
extremely important component of a successful technology program at any school.
From the examples above, one can see that decisions should not be made without input and direction from the various stakeholders. Teamwork
is strongly encouraged among the Technology and Media Services staff, allowing for understanding of each member's various duties
and responsibilities. Large projects, such as the yearly laptop rollout, enjoy the support of the entire department, not just
the Systems Administrator. These policies foster a "whatever it takes" attitude among all members."
I had a fascinating conversation with Jeff Ritter (Director of
Technology, K-12) from St. John's
School in Houston TX. Jeff had written me that he had read my
"COLLABORATION HYPOTHESIS and did not attribute his move from "Good to
Great" to the fact that he meets with the Headmaster on a regular basis,
but did believe they at St. John's School have gone from a good to great
school for other reasons." What I learned on the phone was that there
were several "best practices" that Jeff had put into place in the years
since 2001 when he arrived.
Now, one could argue (especially if one were a stubborn Red Sox fan)
that all of these "best practices" came BECAUSE of the synergy,
collaboration and trust between Jeff, the Head of School and Business
Manager. Jeff and I remarked that we know of very few schools that have
bought into the "humanware" theme ... we too, at Chapin in NYC have a
dedicated computer faculty trainer who works non-stop with faculty 1 on
1 in all 3 divisions but we do NOT have an Integration Institute ... now
that truly is brilliant, especially since we all know that resistance in
upper grades from experience, established teachers who have "been doing
things right for 10-20 years" and achieving quality AP scores and test
results always makes technology integration complicated!
- One item was their unique approach to curriculum integration and
staff development with a dedicated person whose job is just to work with
the teachers ... they created this position in 2003-2004, her title is
Technology Integration Coordinator ... in keeping with the importance of
naming things and publicizing tech initiatives, they call this program
their Integration Institute and it is now an embedded, institutionalized
part of SJS culture with 7-12 teachers yearly who meet once a month with
the Technology Integration Coordinator .. they meet about 7 times per
year for around 90-120 minutes per session ... they spend half the class
working on a new integration topic and half working on an integration
project ... their assignment is to come up with a project for their
teaching, use the lesson in class with their students, and come back
with feedback ... in Jeff's words this has been THE THING that
correlates with their success and has had the result of dept tech
integration with ripples throughout the curriculum ... at the end of the
year, each person in the INSTITUTE does a presentation for the Head of
School and Division Heads and they go out to a restaurant to celebrate
their success! The INSTITUTE is in its third year (2006-2007).
- A second thing Jeff mentioned was the freedom in his budget to meet
his teachers spontaneous needs ... ... his budget is not huge but he has
forced himself to set aside money ... I have a process where each
teacher goes thru in requesting money whether interactive whiteboard,
digital camera, etc. ... Jeff has a head of school and business manager
who have given him the freedom to do this and feels it crucial in his
role to be THAT level of responsive to his teachers
- Having a head of
school who is supportive and hands off and trusts the head of technology
... he has given us the freedom yes, I do meet with him regularly ... as
Jeff says "once we build the trust, we have been able to move forward
- Finding the right pieces of technology (hardware and software) that
make a difference and expanding them, e.g. interactive whiteboard that
has changed the culture of the school ... we have run with it .... right
piece at the right time to get our teachers going ... we have embraced
and have seen major changes
I spoke with Larry Kahn (Director of Academic and Information
Technology, The Kinkaid School) ... he has been a
a member of the Administrative Team at Kinkaid since summer of 2005. He writes "many exciting things
are happening since I started at Kinkaid 21 months ago. We are moving
to a centralized system. We have empowered teachers with laptops,
Interactive Whiteboards, and mounted projectors. We are Moodlers. We
are podcasting in all divisions." Many of these items, Larry emphasized, were tech initiatives that have been bubbling
for years. However, he felt that by having a "voice at the table" at the level of
the Admin Team since summer of 2005, this made all the difference. That phrase of "voice at the table"
was echoed and repeated by Larry in different ways as he gave me examples of those weekly conversations
between him and Admin Team members that have resulted in the Kinkaid G2G transformations.
Larry talked about how
each division at Kinkaid has its own tech character with different tech
initiatives taking hold in each division. Larry talked about how his teachers
are now providing
technology Professional Development for other teachers. I shared with Larry how the
NAIS task force had felt strongly
earlier in our work
the school's senior
administrative team includes the key IT leader,
and the team models the routine and effective use" of technology ...
for the current PGPs
in technology, recently revised in 2012.
This comes from MJ Quigley (Asst Head at
Chapin School in NYC) the person I have been collaborating with
weekly since we both started our new jobs in July 2002. Steve
In regards to the Collaboration Hypothesis and providing a balance
between how schools plan and implement initiatives.....sometimes the
best way to move a school foward is by committee, sometimes the best way
is by mandate, sometimes the best way is through small group
work.....and sometimes the best way is a combination of all of these
systems. Last Fall at Chapin, we had a positive experience working with
a small group of Class Nine teachers on how best to integrate technology
into the 9th grade curriculum. Although the process of meeting took
several months and included alot of out of the box thinking, we actually
ended with several viable initiatives that the faculty had ownership in
because they had been part of the decisions. We used a different model
to focus on tech training for our faculty and building in accountability
with student/teacher laptop use and smartboard use. We made a decision
to hire a part-time tech integrator, who would be available to our
faculty several days per week. Having the ability to support our faculty
with individual training sessions, as we launched a laptop initiative,
was critical to the initiative's success. This was an administrative
decision that was accomplished quickly, and resembled more of a mandate
than group decision. In both examples, it was the right decision for
what we wanted to achieve as an institution.
This comes from John Neiers (Director of Technology at
Dalton School in NYC)
Administrative workshop In August of 2006, the Head of School and the
rest of the administrative team set aside 2 full days for an
administrative technology workshop. The workshop was both philosophical
as well as practical, covering such topics as the one-to-one laptop
program, the school's databases, Web 2.0 concepts, content management
systems, etc..--the important issues for the year. The workshop was
scheduled to occur the week before the administrative team went on
their annual retreat. This workshop had open conversations and hands-on
activities that forwarded our progress this year in exponential ways as
everyone who participated gained a better understanding of the
direction we are headed. Now, during administrative meetings,
decision-making is much easier as everyone is more familiar with the
Professional Development We have found that the use of our vocabulary
sets the tone for the style of professional development that we have.
For our teacher training, we used proposals but changed them to
conversation starters. We wanted to foster collaboration. Rather then
have teacher spend hours trying to write the perfect proposal, we
wanted them to write a few paragraphs that described things they
enjoyed teaching but were difficult--and technology might be able to
assist in teaching. We then had our technology coordinators, curriculum
directors and teachers meet to brainstorm and make the proposal a
stronger one, and one aligned with our strategic goals.
We also wanted faculty to share their success and experiences with
other faculty. When faculty "presented" to others, the tone was much
more formal and stressful. However, when the faculty "shared" their
experiences, they were more relaxed and excited. Faculty share their
experiences in faculty meetings and other venues.
I spoke with
Karen Douse (Director of Library and
Information Services at
Harpeth Hall in Nashville TN
where they have been doing wonderful things
with technology including a 1:1 Laptop program (this year
this year their new students
and 7th graders purchased tablets).
Karen is part of the school's Administrative
team which meets monthly. Karen spoke about how the head of school had come from Garrison Forest in MD
where they had been talking about a laptop program. Karen said that the 1:1 laptop program
was definitely related to administrative support and her head's initiative. In her words,
"the more I have been thinking, the more I think
you are right on about collaboration . It is not really about time but
seeing what the other party is thinking about in terms of concerns. Listening to my head of school
and her listening to me is essential for progress. This happens with budget and with lots of other
things. This collaborative mindset is essential. It is not the time but the attitude."
Karen writes: "We have
had a Good-to-Great initiative at Harpeth Hall for several years now;
our Board Members and many members of the administration and faculty
have read the book and we currently have a faculty committee working on
a number of ideas related to it.
We have had a joint library/technology department (Department of Library
and Information Services) since 1996, and hired a technology
integrationist that year also. The Library/Tech Director has been a
member of the administrative team since I started at Harpeth Hall in
1992. I took on the job of coordinating the start of our 1:1 program in
1999 when I was Middle School Librarian, and was appointed Director in
2000 when our then Director semi-retired. We are also an academic
department. Although the network administrator and
tech support are not technically part of the academic department, we
all work together as a tech team.
Our administration has always been very supportive of our department and
the goals we have set. We really couldn't ask for more. We have a
three-year technology strategic plan in place that was developed through
a collaborative process with teachers, staff, admin, parents, students,
and members of our department. I meet with the Head of School every
other week, and that has gone a long way to helping her to understand my
vision, and me to understand hers. I also meet regularly with the
Director of Finance, when planning budgets and just to check in from
time to time so she can also understand our needs.
We embraced Smartboards several year ago, and that made a big difference
to so many of our teachers. Our latest initiative include tablets with
Teachers love the NEC wireless projectors; they are set so that teachers
and students can log into the projector. The teacher can see thumbnails of all the students'
screens and can choose which
student's screen is to be on the projector. Consequently, Smartboards are diminishing in usage
for some teachers. Podcasting is growing; you can find a number of our
podcasts on iTunes. Our librarians are among our most faithful
All of these tech initiatives are definitely the result of a good deal of collaboration that starts
with my relationship with my head of school and permeates throughout our community."