Your school’s mission is one of the most defining elements of who you are as a private or independent institution. It acts as a guiding light for everything from who you hire to how you engage with your community. Every program or initiative at your school must fit into your overarching mission — including your technology department.
Although technology is often seen as a means to an end, it is also a reflection of your institutional purpose and values. This blog will discuss three ways to align your tech department with your school’s mission for strategic planning and long-term success.
1. Create a Technology Mission Statement
In order to further your school’s mission, you need to develop your technology program in an intentional way. One way to do that is by establishing a mission statement for your technology department.
It’s 2023; your technology team is not there to just fix computers and troubleshoot Wi-Fi. They’re there to illustrate what’s possible with technology across the entire school. A technology mission statement ensures that everyone at your school remains focused on the primary objectives of technology use, including both your tech team and other staff members. It’ll help separate day-to-day work — like fixing those pesky computers — from long-term mission-critical tasks, like finding a user-friendly student information system that your community will love.
Here are a few things to consider when crafting your technology mission statement:
- How does your school’s use of technology impact your institutional mission? Review your school’s mission and note how technology is the catalyst for reaching it. Then, use these notes as an outline for your department’s mission statement.
- How can you empower students, parents, faculty, and staff to be more efficient and effective through technology? Think of how you can teach your community to be self-sufficient with their software programs, data, and tech tools. Bonus: define why this is important in your institution.
- How will you establish guidelines for ethical and safe use of technology? Safety, in all definitions, is a primary concern for schools. Explore how your department will contribute to overall student wellness through intentional use of tech.
For more inspiration, take a look at this example from The Overlake School in Redmond, WA:
“The mission of Overlake’s Technology Program is to provide technological leadership, expertise, and systems to support learning… We seek to foster the intentional use of technology to better live Overlake’s mission and values, and in doing so, to promote the lifelong skill of learning how to learn.”
2. Examine Your Tech Stack
What drives your technology planning and purchases today? Schools often make tech decisions based on industry trends, student engagement, or to keep up with neighboring schools.
While these motivations aren’t entirely in vain, it’s also important to consider how your technology purchases align with your school’s mission, vision, and values.
For example, “preparing students for the future” and “fostering a sense of belonging” are two phrases commonly found in school mission statements. If your school prides itself on preparing students for the future, you might be more inclined to experiment with AI tools and technology in your classrooms. Or, if you strive to foster a sense of belonging for families, you might prioritize user-friendly tools and platforms for parents.
Aligning strategic planning for technology with the school’s mission provides a roadmap for the hardware, infrastructure, support posture, and academic technology focus for the school.
Take some time to audit your tech stack and identify any friction. How easy is it for new families to find important school information? How many logins do parents have? Make a list of those barriers and strategize how to solve them in a way that furthers your school’s mission.
As your school continues to grow, it’s important to have the right foundation in place to support new physical and departmental demands. Viewing technology initiatives through the lens of your school’s mission statement is one of the fastest ways to find alignment for sustainable long-term growth.
3. Restructure Your Tech Department
A third way to further your mission through technology is by reimagining the relationship between your tech team and the rest of your school.
Who does your Director of Technology report to? Since the pandemic, more and more schools have their IT Director report to the Head of School — a structure that Independent School Management (ISM) stands by.
We want the tech director to be in the senior leadership meeting so that they understand everything that’s happening on campus. Additionally, the EdTech and IT teams should meet regularly to establish clear communication, support, and reporting lines.
Having a seat at the table helps reinforce the position of technology leaders as school leaders, not just support team members. It also helps influence strategic plans and avoid technical issues or roadblocks. How many times have you been brought into the conversation about a new initiative a little too late? By involving tech leaders early on in the process, your school can save valuable time, energy, and dare we say, sanity.
Fulfilling Your Mission
These are just three ways to approach your school’s technology with a mission-oriented mindset. Finding alignment between these two objectives is an ongoing process — it won’t happen in one brainstorming session. Make time each week to identify where you’re at and how you can move your technology program forward in a way that benefits your entire school.