If you have these initials (CETL) – what’s that really mean?

You are a Certified Education Technology Leader!  This certification is offered through CoSN (Consortium for School Networking).  Anyone who is successful in leading school technology knows “it takes a village” of different skills and backgrounds. Successful IT leadership means:

  • Moving forward with technology requires leadership and vision.
  • For technology to support learning, there must be excellence in education.
  • The district needs to have the 1’s and 0’s knowledge to keep things running, and keep the district’s information secure.

Think of some of the most successful edtech leaders you know.  Was she a school administrator that was promoted to CIO? Was he a teacher that loved using technology to reach their student; and he becomes a technology coach?  Maybe it’s the accidental hire – someone who was hired to just keep the computers running who takes on that leadership role.

Here’s my edtech leadership journey…

I came into education through the backdoor. In the year 2000, I was an assistant manager in retail. I really liked working retail, but there was one problem inconsistent management by store. Promotion opportunities were linked to things like being able to move which was not an option for my family.  I was STUCK.
 

SIDE NOTE: One of the best days of my life was telling my boss on a Friday evening, that I was done. I normally would never encourage someone burning a bridge like that. It was the least professional thing I have ever done, but WOW did it feel good.

So I started going to school part time and being a stay-at-home dad for our kids.  But reality intervened again – IT staff hired for Y2K were being let go.. No company wanted to hire someone who was pushing 40 and had no IT experience. So, I thought why not volunteer? I figured I could count it like an internship. I could gain some experience and I could help out the local school at the same time. After a few months of volunteering the District Administrator told me about a job opening in another district. Seventeen years later I cried when I left Winneconne for our move to Switzerland. We had accomplished a lot together, and the people I worked with made it a joy to go into work almost every single day.

After I became comfortable with the 1’s and 0’s of my job. I started working on the mission of the district. I was frustrated that we were in the 21st Century, and we were using technology more like a game rather than a tool to support learning started seeking out educators who were embracing technology in their districts.  Diane Doersch, CETL of Green Bay Schools (WI) played a key role for me.
Working towards the CETL helped me fully embrace what a school does. I started spending a lot more time in the classroom. Working with teachers and helping to find ways to integrate technology into learning was a game-changer for me. Funding and budgeting were the next functions on which I focused.  At that time, there was such a commitment to the break/fix mentality – not strategic/sustainable spending.

The CETL exam was not easy.  In fact, I did not pass the first time I took it. A clear takeaway for me was that there is no one right answer. The process to get to the right answer is more important.

Working towards your CETL encourages and causes you to work with all the important people in the district. You learn to work with parents, teachers, administrators, and students when you are rolling out new initiatives. When it comes to any new initiative if there is not enough acceptance of the change it will never get off the ground, and in technology, change is the only constant. We all know the world kind of shut down last March and April. Last May I got an email out of the blue from one of the teachers in my old district. I am going to paraphrase the email she sent: “I just wanted to take a moment and say thank you. When you were here, I used to think the training you wanted us to do was a giant inconvenience. I was wrong. I’ve been talking to my friends in other districts as they are struggling to do this remotely. I do not have those struggles. I would much rather be teaching in person, but you made sure we know how to use the tools, and that is paying off right now.”

Stay tuned for the next chapter about making a difference in edtech leadership! If you would like to learn more please visit Cosn.org. If you are in the US, you can find out if your state has a chapter of CoSN by clicking here.