School Leaders, Technology, and “Spin”

“Spin” is a fact of life for school leaders. They are faced with uncomfortable situations, and they must describe them in a positive light. I have seen this firsthand during my entire adult life which has been spent in education. 

It is difficult to ascertain if leaders believe their spin or not. We should not blame them for appearing delusional, in many cases. Their boss or other politically powerful individuals want the narrative of the spin to be true, so they actively participate. 

In schools, technology is often the subject of spin. Leaders accept what the IT people say and spin that and their actions. They are likely to spin technology situations because—of all the issues the issues they manage and of all the problems they solve—information technology is the one that most feel least comfortable deciding. They accept what IT professionals say and do because they have no better information and no way to either confirm or refute it. 

Consider the uncomfortable situation of a school leader: Of all the jobs done in schools, managing the IT is the one they would be least prepared to assume if they needed to. If a teacher is out, they could fill in a competent way. The same with administrative assistants, custodial staff, and most other roles. I expect the school nurse and bus driver to be exceptions. When faced with a malfunctioning network, most school leaders are stuck. 

This is more common than many school leaders will admit, thus they spin the messages from IT professionals. I’m writing to tell those leaders it does not have to be that way. You can make good decisions when hiring IT professionals. You can develop IT leaders into those who you and your teachers trust.