Advocating for Growth-minded K-12 Tech Departments

In the ever-evolving landscape of K-12 education, technology has become a cornerstone for student success. Behind the scenes, dedicated K-12 tech work tirelessly to ensure the seamless integration of technology into the learning environment. One of the things I’ve been reflecting on over the past month is how K-12 tech departments are often running on fumes and how we have to advocate for more. 

One of the key pieces of that advocacy should be to pull for a happy and healthy staff. Many of us know that K-12 tech pay is often below IT industry standards, so that’s a key piece of advocacy. But money isn’t the only objective: it is also crucial to provide incentives that invest in the well-being and growth of your staff. 

In this article, we will explore some of the ways we can improve our departments and incentivize and encourage growth, ensuring a harmonious work environment and fostering professional development.

  • Fair Compensation: While it may seem obvious, fair and competitive compensation is a fundamental incentive. School technology professionals often work tirelessly to maintain and enhance the school’s technological infrastructure. Recognizing their efforts with competitive salaries and performance-based scales is a concrete way to show appreciation. I know this goes against how most schools handle pay, but it is important in retaining a properly trained K-12 tech employee. Regular pay reviews should also be conducted to keep their wages in line with other IT professionals across industries.
  • Balanced Workflows and Work-Life Balance: One of the most significant issues faced by K-12 techs is the feeling of being overwhelmed by an unmanageable workload. To encourage growth and creativity, seek office workflows that are balanced and check regularly to ensure that employees are not stretched too thin. Overburdened tech teams are more likely to burn out, which prevents them from serving students, staff and families. Offering flexible work arrangements and promoting a healthy work-life balance will enable your staff to perform at their best. Again, I know this is easier said than done, but it’s something K-12 tech leaders need to advocate for in their districts. 
  • Positive Work Environment: A harmonious work environment is a critical factor in fostering growth within a technology department. Seek to eliminate passive-aggressive attitudes and workplace politics that can hinder productivity (if this is not possible outside your office, just try working with what you can control). Encourage open communication, respectful interactions, and a culture of support. Happy and motivated tech professionals are more likely to collaborate and innovate.
  • Constructive Conversations and Career Development: Regular one-on-one conversations between employees and their supervisors are instrumental in their professional growth. Provide constructive feedback and discuss career development plans. Make it clear that you care about their professional aspirations and are invested in helping them achieve their goals. These conversations can be a source of motivation and job satisfaction.
  • Clearly Defined Job Expectations: To incentivize growth, employees should have a clear understanding of their job duties and how they contribute to the department’s success. Define job roles and responsibilities for each pay level within the technology department. This not only ensures clarity but also motivates employees by showing them a path for advancement within the department. Yet again, I know this is easier said than done when many of you wear many many hats. Take note of those things you and your department are being asked to do outside of your scope of work, and seek to rein it in. 
  • Pay-Level Rubric: Developing a rubric that outlines the expectations for each pay level can help employees set goals and track their progress. This rubric should include a comprehensive list of skills, knowledge, and achievements expected at each level. It serves as a roadmap for professional growth and clarifies what employees need to do to earn promotions or salary increases.
  • Professional Development Opportunities: Encouraging growth within your school’s technology department should extend beyond the workplace. Providing opportunities for professional development in soft skills and technical opportunities can be a powerful incentive. Consider sending your tech professionals to conferences, round-table discussions, and online learning platforms relevant to their roles. By covering the costs, you not only invest in their knowledge and skills but also demonstrate your commitment to their growth. These experiences not only broaden their horizons but also provide networking opportunities, enabling them to bring fresh ideas back to the department.

Fostering growth and innovation within the technology department requires more than financial incentives. It demands a holistic approach that includes competitive pay, balanced workloads, a positive work environment, constructive conversations, clearly defined job expectations, pay-level rubrics when appropriate, and professional development opportunities. When technology professionals feel valued, supported, and motivated, they will contribute to the school’s mission with renewed vigor and passion. Please don’t stop advocating for a healthy department, even if it goes against “the way things are done around here.” We’ll keep advocating for you as well. 

Do you have something you’re proud of in creating a healthy and thriving department? Drop us a line; we’d love to expand our knowledge.

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