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Avoiding the "I-Know-Better-Than-You-Do" Syndrome

Leadership is getting someone to do what they don't want to do, to achieve what they want to achieve. Tom Landry 

I don't always make popular decisions nor try to steer our district down the path of least resistance. Two moves which have drawn some heat this year have been:

  • Supplying classroom teachers with desktop computers (without a DVD drive) and a tablet instead of giving them the option of having a laptop.
  • Not installing Microsoft Office by default on any new computer and not upgrading Office to its latest version.

These choices were made (in collaboration with our district tech advisory committee) in the best long-term interest of students.  Lower TOC of desktops allows us to redirect tech dollars for additional wireless access. Giving teachers iPads will allow them to practice using devices which will be generally used by students. Moving away from Office and asking teachers to use GoogleDocs eliminates the need for students attaching work to e-mails or needing flashdrives for file transport; allows access to work anywhere at anytime; eliminates the need for families to have Office on home computers; and increases the opportunities for collaboration.

The reality is that we have enough to do to without making change just for the sake of change.

Some teachers have not been happy with these changes. Not having a laptop to take home has been the biggest complaint. Having to check out a DVD drive is inconvenient. Having to reformat Word documents in GoogleDocs has been problematic for some - and GoogleDocs has a couple formatting features (columns, for one) that some teachers miss.

This spring we will survey teachers about the impact of these changes - and reconsider if necessary. While I believe staying the course is right for our district and its students, I am also leery of contracting the "I-Know-Better-Than-You-Do" syndrome. May I never get so full of myself that I stop listening to those who are impacted by my choices.

So, dear readers, how do you maintain a balance of both vision and humility?


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Reader Comments (4)

I wonder if these were the same teachers who complained when their chalk was taken and they were given white board markers. I believe that some of my teachers liked having chalk boards to they had a way to punish kids (by whacking the erasers outside to clean them.

I have been reading the interesting issues that the Los Angeles School District is having giving their students iPads with little or no input from teachers and little or no prep for teachers.

Teachers first, then teacher training, then teacher practice - then students.

November 27, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKenn Gorman

HI Kenn,

Good question about teachers losing chalkboards. I wonder who complained when slates were replaced by the big chalkboard. What I think is interesting is how, once given a chance to try something new, few want to go back to the old way of doing things. Just human nature, I suppose.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving,


November 28, 2013 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

I think change is hard for everyone, and no one should be so judgmental toward teachers. Maybe if admins would make them feel as though they cared and listened to their concerns and actually provided REAL training, not 20 minutes at faculty meeting, then maybe teachers would be on board.

November 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer

Hi Jennifer,

I agree that change is hard and I am sure many teachers feel the same way you do. I do appreciate the comment.

I also know that not all students are best served by our current educational system and not every teacher is willing to change to make the system serve everyone.

All the best and happy holidays,


November 29, 2013 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

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