When I became a technology director, the job description was a little sparse. At that time, it was a relatively new position across the state (yes, I am that old!) and very few C&I leaders really knew what we were supposed to be doing. But I did have an idea in my mind. I thought that my job was to craft a vision for the use of technology that meshed with the district vision for teaching and learning. And then help move the educators in my schools toward achieving that vision with the addition of hardware, a strong network, and lots of professional development.
What I Didn’t Know
In looking back, that was certainly meant to be the main focus of the job. But it’s all of the other things that took up my time that seemed to define being a tech director. And after traveling around the state recently talking with technology leaders, I think it’s still true today. See if any of this resonates with you. Or, if you are thinking about becoming a CTO, make sure that you can perform all of the jobs below before you start applying!
The Real Duties of a Technology Director
- Purchase and set out copious amounts of chocolate for all professional development offerings.
- Have at least two of every kind of tech adapter that has ever been made, including for outdated equipment.
- Make coffee at the drop of a hat (even though I don’t drink coffee).
- Be able to fix anything electric.
- “Lori, the copier isn’t working. Can you fix it?”
- “Lori, do you know how to repair the automatic gasoline measuring equipment for the school buses?”
- “Tech person (yes, some people actually called me that), the lights in my room go off when I plug in my projector. Is that bad? Can you fix them?”
- “There’s a new scoreboard on the football field that we can’t figure out. Can you show us how it works?”
- Remember everyone else’s passwords, including students, and be able to recite them as needed.
- Translate what the system administrator says into everyday language so that you can explain why the network is down.
- Know, and regularly practice, 43 different ways to troubleshoot a technical problem.
- Give advice about home computer, home theater, home WiFi, and home-anything-else-that-plugs-in problems.
- Work with the CTE teachers to help them with their (welding simulation software, sewing/embroidery machine computer, setting the correct time on the microwaves in the cooking kitchen, helping them select the best automotive computer system to purchase).
- Offer sound advice about online STAAR testing.
- Pick up the right kind of donuts for the technical guys (no nuts, no pink icing, with meat).
- Offer sacrifices to the infrastructure gods on a regular basis so that the network NEVER goes down, and it especially doesn’t go down right when the superintendent needs to use it to plan his vacation.
- Constantly explain to parents that the Internet is not a tool of Satan and that yes, their children should use it.
- Be able to promise the school board, without laughing, that adding more technology will definitely, guaranteed, bring up test scores.
With all of that being said, I can honestly say that being a CTO/technology leader is absolutely, without a doubt one of the best jobs in the entire world. Who else gets to play with really cool tech every day and work with dedicated educators and excited students!
What about you? What are your favorite, least understood, or parts of being a tech director that you never expected to be in charge of or that absolutely drive you crazy? Please share; you’re not alone!