For Michael Marassa, the important thing to working a great expertise division at a college is making a tradition during which your group prioritizes the wants of others.
“Our job as expertise leaders is to essentially facilitate the needs and wishes of our academics, our directors, and our college students,” says the chief expertise officer at New Trier Excessive Faculty District in Illinois. “It is not what’s greatest for the expertise division.”
Marassa lately obtained the Progressive Chief Expertise Officer Award at Tech & Studying’s Innovative Leader awards (opens in new tab) in Illinois for serving to steer his district by this turbulent period in training with impactful use of expertise.
QR Codes and Clear Sound
Throughout the peak of the pandemic, Marassa led two initiatives that helped earn recognition.
The primary was a QR-code primarily based well being screening and entry system for the complete district. Pupil and employees members have been repeatedly examined for COVID utilizing a saliva check. They’d additionally take a well being screener every morning earlier than attending college to point they have been symptom-free. The outcomes of each this screener and check have been linked by an app to distinctive QR codes for every scholar and employees member. If somebody’s COVID check got here again constructive, they’d be notified instantly. Within the occasion that they nonetheless confirmed as much as college after their QR code was scanned, they wouldn’t be admitted.
“It acquired to be fairly a complicated logistic system but it surely was what labored and what we felt did our greatest to attenuate the virus entering into the constructing and serving to individuals to really feel secure whereas returning to highschool,” Marassa says.
Secondly, Marassa helped the district put together for hybrid studying by putting in almost 200 classroom audio methods to facilitate communication between academics and college students and distant learners. As we speak, these methods are nonetheless used to videoconference in distant presenters.
New Challenges Submit COVID
Whereas the QR-health screening system is a factor of the previous, many different features of college have modified because the pandemic. Previous to March 2020, dad and mom didn’t obtain entry to the grade e-book for his or her kids’s LMS and never each class even utilized an LMS. Now, Marassa says, “We actually have change into unified in utilizing the identical studying administration system and likewise giving entry to our dad and mom.”
This alteration got here after the district realized the must be extra student- and parent-centric in its strategy, and to get higher at recognizing when college students are struggling.
“The scholars that now we have as we speak, even with out COVID, are extra sophisticated and are going through all types of further stressors,” Marassa says. “So the extra info now we have, the extra that completely different leaders of various features of a company can intervene earlier.”
Refresh and Talk
Marassa advises others working in IT to have a plan for refreshing the district’s tech. “Generally we’re reactive as a substitute of proactive,” he says. “I’ll use the examples of our properties. We now have all types of issues in our home that ultimately they’ll break, and we have to repair them. Like our air conditioner, our furnace, our fridge, our washer, and dryer.”
However ready till one thing goes unsuitable doesn’t fly with edtech. “That sort of mindset, when you find yourself a CTO and also you’re managing a company the place there are such a lot of expertise methods that have to run, it is simply not an appropriate apply,” he says. “Actually work on being a methods thinker, and stepping again and taking a look at all features of your infrastructure, and in placing collectively a lifecycle plan that you may work out financially together with your CFO and superintendent in order that they’ll plan financially to make it possible for your district stays dependable high-performing and safe.”
For expertise college leaders, communication with completely different stakeholder teams can also be important. “At the beginning, with these individuals which are on the bottom that work with you and for you as a frontrunner, you simply must be engaged in relationship-building with them and attending to know them,” Marassa says. “As a result of they’ll actually make or break the tradition of your division. So it is actually necessary that you simply set up these relationships, and make it clear together with your messaging, that you are a student-centric and a student-first sort of chief.”