The Technology Director’s 5 Things To Do Before the End of the School Year
When I was acting as technology director at Galt Joint Union Public School in Sacramento, CA, the end of the school year felt like the barreling down the last leg of a racetrack: Rounding the final corner and staring down the finish line with anticipation in your heart and pain everywhere else. If you’re anything like me, you may feel the same way.
Just like the final stretch of a race, the final few months before summer break is a critical moment in your school technology program. You’ve already worked so hard to get to this point in the year, you’re starting to feel exhaustion kick in, but with a little extra push, you can finish strong and “go for gold”!
Metaphor aside, the end of the school year also presents a great opportunity to regroup, refocus and rejuvenate.
As a former technology director, I understand the importance of using this time to set (and reset) the course for upcoming technology plans. That’s why I’ve compiled a pre-end of the school year guide, specifically tailored to technology directors, that can help you make the most of these last few months of school.
By following these steps, you can end the year with a sense of accomplishment and set yourself up for success in the future.
Communicate Your Desired Expectations
You have got a lot to get done in the final few weeks of school. Some of these tasks require cooperation on the part of your technology end users (i.e. students and faculty). That’s why communication is so important!
From something as simple as reminding teachers to turn off their classroom displays on their final days to giving detailed instructions to students and staff on how to shut down and return their devices at the end of the year. Clear and frequent communication is key.
Don’t assume that everyone will remember the first time. Instead, over-communicate your expectations and guide the process you desire people to follow.
Celebrate Your Accomplishments
This is a great time to reflect on the past year’s successes and celebrate them. One of the best ways to do this is to follow the advice of one of my favorite Edu-heroes, Executive Director of Westlake Charter Schools, John Eick: “Celebrate that which you want to perpetuate!”
Take a look at some key areas of success from the past year. Maybe you succeeded in:
- Provided engaging professional development that helped teachers leverage their classroom technology tools better this year
- Saw an increase in technology adoption and utilization
- Got interactive panels installed in record time
- Had a smooth technology roll-out with little to no hiccups.
- Were able to reclaim some of your budget through clever repair tactics.
- Navigated federal funding and made the impossible possible.
Whatever it may be, make sure to celebrate those successes and the people who helped make them happen. By celebrating your successes, you can inspire both students and staff your peers team to continue the desired behavior (and sometimes even improve).
Celebrations can range from big awards and prizes to a simple celebratory email; as long as you are authentic and sincere in your recognition.
Here is an example of an email structure I have used in the past:
Hello Amazing Tigers!
It is hard to believe that we are already preparing to close out the 2022-23 school year. Thank you for your incredible work throughout this year. As we start to think of closing out the year and the Summer I want to reflect on some wins and share some upcoming opportunities. We have completed stage 1 of our Touch Screen TV installation project. We have over 100 new Google Certified Educators, and we continue to see amazing success in our 1:1 initiative. Shortly you will receive the Summer PD catalog, we have some amazing things happening throughout the district, we are also putting together a team to discuss end of year tech protocols, let us know if you want to join. As always please do not hesitate to let us know how we can support you! GO TIGERS!!!
Reflect On The School Year
The end of the year is the perfect time to take a look back to see what worked and what didn’t. Ask yourself and your team:
- Where did we see success?
- Where did we struggle?
- Is data being collected correctly?
- What were our goals and did we accomplish them?
- What was our purpose and did we stick to it?
- How can we maximize the Summer to prepare for next year?
Reflecting on what you learned in this school year gives a better understanding of what you can improve on in the beginning of next school year.
Data is super important here. I am a big believer in the saying, “If you can’t measure it you can’t improve it.” For me, I always looked at things like:
- Software utilization (Were teachers and students making good use of the software being paid for and provided?)
- Breakage rates (What percentage of my device fleet was coming back broken throughout the semester?)
- Student safety/wellbeing stats (Did we see a lot of incidents of potential student harm come up on our monitoring software? Were we able to address them appropriately as a school?)
The data you gathered is relevant to your goals and directly informs your progress towards achieving them. The data should enable you to look back and determine if you achieved your goals or if there’s still work to be done.
If you realize that you didn’t collect the right data, take this time to start thinking about ways to gather it in the future.
💡 Having trouble maintaining a successful tech plan? This blog can help you work through the steps for a tech plan that sticks, (perfect for a technology director)!
Plan For The Future
As a technology director, you know, the second half of the school year is busy, busy, busy. Not only are you solving problems with your existing tech ecosystem, but you are looking ahead to making major purchases for the upcoming year. Ask yourself:
- What are your top 3 focuses as you finish out the year?
- What are you planning to accomplish next school year?
- Who are the key partners I need to accomplish these goals?
- Who are the teachers and staff that I need to get buy-in from?
- Whose help do I need to employ for upcoming projects?
- Who is my vendor partner for any purchases, repairs, or consultations? Do I trust this partner to work with me to accomplish my goals?
I recommend engaging in a bit of short-term planning. Map out the last week of school and the first week of summer break so that you have a clear plan in place and can be sure you didn’t miss any important tasks.
Planning on bringing new technology to your school next year? This is also a great time to set up demos and plot out a few pilot programs for the technology you’re making decisions on in the next school year.
According to the article, “What’s Next for 1:1 Devices: Strategies for Maximizing Purchases and Learning Outcomes,” put out by THE Journal, getting teacher input on technology purchases ahead of time can greatly affect its efficacy in the classroom. The article called out a survey done by Logitech that found that one in five K–12 leaders said that getting teacher input and feedback prior to purchase “could increase the potential of EdTech to enhance learning in their districts or schools.”
So get those demos set up!
Here’s a list of free demos and trials available at Trafera right now:
Interactive Flat Panels
Software and Licenses
- Google Workspace for Education: FREE trial upgrade of Google Workspace for Education
- GoGuardian: FREE trial of GoGuardian Suite
- Higher Ground: Try Higher Ground cases, shells, and bags FREE to keep
- UZBL: Try UZBL cases, shells, and bags FREE to keep
- ThinkWrite: Try ThinkWrite headphones/headsets for FREE to keep
This can also be a time to consider improvements for your technology systems. In my past experience, even small improvements can make a big difference. Take for example your asset management system. You can make huge strides towards optimizing that system by integrating a ticketing/asset management tool into your system (like Incident IQ). A single integration like this can really help you streamline your workflows, providing you with easier ways to submit repairs, make warranty claims, track orders, and more.
Take a Rest
To continue the running metaphor, remember that the work you do is a marathon, not a sprint. Managing a sustainable and impactful technology program takes a lot of consistent focus and effort. One of the hardest, but most important steps in achieving this is to simply take a break and get some rest. You’ve earned it! Making rest a top priority heading into summer allows you to come back refreshed and ready to tackle the next school year.
Interested in learning more? Check out this helpful technology director webinar!
At Trafera, we believe technology can only improve learning experiences when we make people our number one investment. We partner with the industry’s most trusted brands to provide students and educators with the tools and the technology they need to transform the learning experience in 2021 and beyond.
With Trafera on your team, we’ll work together to navigate the complexities of today’s learning environment in a supportive and empowering way. Contact us today to learn more about providing your students with a more engaged and a more connected experience this school year and beyond.
About the author: Scott Jonard is a 15-year veteran of technology in education as a Special education Teacher, Technology Coordinator, Principal, and Technology Director from Sacramento, California. He specializes in developing sustainable, impactful, and “sticky” school technology plans within K-12. Recently, Scott made a transition from satisfied Trafera customer to serving K-12 education as a Teaching and Learning Consultant at Trafera, helping schools build plans for their classroom technology that have a positive impact on the way teachers teach and students learn.