Kick Off

Curriculum Summary

The CCTO Mentorship program began with welcome message from the Chief Executive Officer of the California Education Technology Professionals Association (CETPA), Ms. Andrea Bennett. Superintendent of Irvine Unified School District, Terry Walker, provided an inspirational keynote presentation. The required portfolio expectations along with an understanding of what the program is and how it works were explained providing good groundwork for establishing a relationship between mentors and mentees.

 

The majority of the day was devoted to exploration of the mentor-mentee partnership with emphasis on protocols for communication, processes for accomplishing goals as well as resolving issues, and the development of a focus on successful completion of the program’s requirements. Moreover, Ms. Nancy Sullivan and Ms. Robin Canale, the kickoff day instructors provided and overview of the education industry landscape including an update on legislative processes the eight Local Control Accountability Priorities.

 

Lastly, the group explored values associated with high quality feedback loops, reflective writing characteristics as well as a discussion regarding personality types (e.g. Myers Briggs, introvert vs. extrovert, etc.). The final product of the session was the development of a formal mentor-mentee agreement with processes and protocols outlined in detail.

Leadership & Planning

Curriculum Summary

This session was lead by Mr. Bob Gravina of Poway Unified School District and Ms. Robin Canale, a consultant under contract with CETPA. The primary thrust of the day was geared toward the use of resources available to assist in the development of leadership skills as well as to demonstrate the ability to identify areas of growth. As such, the group spent a considerable amount of time looking into the development of an individual growth plan to address identified growth areas over a period.

 

Through multiple exercises, lectures, and small group discussions, the learners explored topics such as:

● Development of a strategic plan

● Foster good communication

● Building a culture of teamwork and mutual support

● Time management

 

Mr. Garvina discussed interesting leadership ideas such as the five waves of trust (Stephen Covey) as well as principles laid out in Good to Great by Jim Collins. The session ended with an in-depth look at reasons why strategic planning fails which include:

● Lack of understanding of environmental factors

● Lack of commitment

● Unrealistic goals

● Lack of accountability

Educational Technology

Curriculum Summary

This session was headed by Mr. Jeremy Davis of Capistrano Unified School District.  The primary concepts explored centered on the organizational structures of technology departments that incorporate both information and education technologies; the role of a CTO in relation to how it can support instructional technology programs; what some of the obstacles are in terms of school technologies as well as the social, legal, and ethical issues regarding classroom and network technologies (e.g. SOPIPA, CIPA, COPPA, FERPA).

 

Most interestingly, the session focused considerably on the California Common Core Standards.  Specifically, we reviewed a variety of technology tools, devices, and resources that may be used by the teacher to design/deliver standards-based learning experiences for students.  We engaged in a thought exercise wherein we created a stratified curriculum plan that infused digital literacy, use of digital tools, information literacy, keyboarding as well as the creation of multimedia over a school year.  Through multiple exchanges, we discovered how these tools, resources, and devices may impact our departments as well as our organizational structures. 

 

The bulk of our work centered on developing a deep understanding of Dr. Ruben Puentedura’s SAMR model for empowering students with technology.  We explored how teachers can use the model to design learning experiences for students that used technologies to not only enhance their education but to fundamentally transform their learning.

Professional Learning

Curriculum Summary

This session was led by Mr. Kris Linville of Irvine Unified School District.  The primary concepts conveyed and grappled with included an understanding of what effective professional learning is, what the role of the CTO should be in context of professional learning initiatives, various methodologies for delivering professional learning experiences as well as a review of principles associated with how adults learn. 

Further, through multiple discussions and exchanges, we established a working knowledge of how we can assess and improve professional learning programs.  The main activity circled the development of a working knowledge of how leaders can determine the need for professional learning as well as how to plan, design, and customize professional learning for specific audiences.  Through multiple small group discussion, we reviewed various technologies and procedures supporting professional learning systems such as:

  • Nearpod

  • G Suite Forms and Docs

  • Slido.com

 

Lastly, we learned about the power of Professional Learning Communities (PLC) and how they can empower staff to take charge of their own growth and development.  Done correctly, the PLC can provide individuals pathways to learn from others in a manageable and appropriate way as well as to establish a support network of peers and experts.

Fiscal Management

Curriculum Summary

This session was headed by Mr. Peter Skibitzki of Placer County Officer of Education.  The primary concepts explored centered on education finance policies and budget account management.  We explored multiple concepts in depth including the State Account Code Structure (SACS), revenue sources in the K-12 sector, the RFP process and public works projects. As well as school facility programs.  Moreover, we looked at methods for enhancing the bottom line of a school system’s budget while boosting employee moral as well as customer satisfaction.  Finally, we spent a considerable amount of time on understanding the nuances of the Federal E-Rate program.

Most interestingly, we took a deep dive into a logical framework for decision making which culminated in the development of a Total Cost of Ownership and Return on Investment analysis.  The framework, based on the work of Terry Schmidt centered on ways to plan and manage change through projects and strategic initiatives.  The central concept revolved around four critical questions:

  1. What are you trying to accomplish and why?

  2. How will you know you are successful?

  3. What other conditions must exist?

  4. How do we get there?

 

Thanks to the lessons, the artifacts, and the resources reviewed, I learned how developing and implementing budgets can be a critical skill for CTOs.  Knowing it and doing it well will increase my chances for success in all areas including department leadership, district success, and student achievement.  Conversely, it can be a career ender if we don’t pay attention to budgets.

Cybersecurity Fundamentals

Curriculum Summary

This session was headed by Mr. Aaron Barnett of Morena Valley Unified School District.  The primary concepts explored included resources that need to be protected by network security in the K12 environment.  As such, we explored host devices on the Internet, cybercrime and web defacement hacks, and critical security controls for effective cyber defense.  We also reviewed the legal landscape regarding cybersecurity including California’s Database Security Breach Notification Act (SB1386), Assembly Bill 1584 which authorizes school districts to enter into contract with third-party providers of digital storage, management, and retrieval of pupil records only if the vendor issues express provisions about the use, ownership, and control of pupil records as well as, FERPA and HIPPA.

The bulk of our work centered on methods for applying what we learned from the SANS Security Controls framework to improve network security.  We considered multiple tools including Shodan which scans the Internet for exposed devices, Kali Linux (a cybersecurity focused distribution of the Linux OS) as well as Metasploit, NMAP, and the Nessus port scanning system.  We took at look at this tools through the lens of a DDOS attach, a ransomware attack, and potential inside threat vectors.

The most powerful learning centered on establishing a clear understanding of the CIS Critical Security Controls framework.  The framework provides an organized system for elevating the security posture of our school districts through a set of 20 domains.  Simply ensuring secure configurations of hardware and software is no longer enough to ensure our students and staff are protected from illegal actions online.  We must also consider our data recovery capability, how we respond to incidents, and participate in penetration testing on our own systems.

Organizational Management

Curriculum Summary

This session was headed by Ms. Lorrie Owens of the San Mateo County Office of Education.  The primary concepts explored included strategic planning processes and the options for organizational structure/service offerings.  Throughout the session, we took a deep dive into the relationship between our stakeholders and the IT department’s systems, processes, and services.  Much of our discussions focused on the need for process control and the importance of documentation.  A considerable point of our work centered on the importance of aligning our services with our district’s other organizational units.

The bulk of our work was on the development of a vision for our departments and how they aligned with our mission, goals, and objectives.  The activities in the seminar helped us better understand how to direct organizational focus and performance in our work.  More specifically, we learned how to incorporate performance metrics in the form of critical success factors and key performance indicators.

The most powerful learning the purpose of IT governance.  Through multiple exchanges, we discovered that to direct our departmental endeavors, we must ensure alignment of our work with the benefits we have promised our organization.  This involves responsible use of our resources and the appropriate management of related risks associated with information technologies.  We looked at two frameworks for such governance, CObIT and ITIL.  CObIT (Control Objectives for Information and related Technologies) focused on balancing useful guidance and concise requirements (i.e. mapping individual process to IT goals) while ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) provided a set of practices of service management focusing on aligning the IT department’s services with the needs of the overall organization.

Personnel Management

Curriculum Summary

This session was headed by Ms. Lorrie Owens, Chief Technology Officer of San Mateo County Office of Education.  The primary concepts explored included practices for the documentation and remediation of unsatisfactory employee performance as well as the ability to apply skills using the FRISK method for employee reprimand.  In addition, the full-day seminar familiarized us with general personnel management principles including tips for successfully serving as a manager.  We investigated multiple tools such as management by objectives and SMART goal setting.  Also, Ms. Owens presented multiple insights regarding concepts associated with strengths-based management.

Most interestingly, the session highlighted several best practices in recruiting, screening, interviewing as well as other talent acquisition components.  As in all industries, there are multiple legalities that pertain to the K-12 human resources domain and as such, by way of discussion and reading, we were able to strengthen our understanding of such requirements

The bulk of our work centered on demonstrating our ability to decide on the appropriate course of action when addressing unsatisfactory employee behavior.  By way of reflective writing, I was able to convey my understanding of how the FRISK steps were applied in my own work.

Staff and Student Centered Aspects

Curriculum Summary

This session was headed by Ms. Sue Gott. Chief Technology Officer of San Bernardino County Office of Education.  The primary concepts explored centered on requirements of record maintenance, storage, and retrieval as well as the role of the custodian of records.  However, through pre-course exploration, in-class discussions, and lecture, we also examined the Public Records Act as well as multiple types of student records.  Additionally, we learned about local, state, and federal requirements pertaining to student records as well as how to apply the requirements regarding the transmission and destruction of such records.

 

Most interestingly, the session focused on student privacy regarding records.  Ms. Elizabeth Wisnia of the California Department of Education presented a seminar on the topic of data privacy which spurred multiple professional discussions among the cohort members.  Our knowledge of student record attributes and the classes of records as well as the rules of evidence were deepened thanks to an informative presentation provided by Ms. Gott.

The bulk of our work centered on understanding the role of our local custodian of records regarding why certificated leadership is required for the role.  By way of an interview, I was able to learn more about our local processes for releasing records.  Moreover, I analyzed the Los Angeles Unified School District’s administrative regulation for e-retention and determined ways wherein their policy could be improved.

Project Management

Curriculum Summary

This session was headed by Ms. Robin Canale, an independent consultant.  The primary concepts explored centered on project management and leadership concepts.  We explored multiple topics in depth including the importance of project management, the role of the CTO as related to project management, ways to build capacity as well as processes for handling conflicts within the organization.   

Moreover, we looked at multiple contributors to successfully managing projects such as ensuring the presence of an actively engaged sponsor, focusing on benefits and sustainability, and how to best leverage technical project management talent, strategic business management talent, and leadership.  Lastly, we focused our attention on topics like ethics associated with project management, team building, data management as well as the management of information technology, communication, and business management.

Most interestingly, we took a deep dive into the role of the CTO as related to project management.  The role of the CTO is to insure projects are aligned with the strategic goals of the organization, that communications are clear and understood at all levels of management as well as the availability of resources to complete projects.

The course familiarized us with many of the tools and methods used in project management such as:

  • The triple constraint

  • The project lifecycle

  • Software for tracking performance levels and timelines

 

Finally, the course provided us with a clear understanding of the difference between risk management and risk response.  Managing risk is a matter of applying mitigation strategies that allow the district to avoid, control, retain, or deflect challenges whereas assessing risk is a process of projecting the probability of risks and their impact.

Technology Infrastructure and Data Systems

Curriculum Summary

This session was headed by Dr. Julie Judd, Chief Technology Office of the Ventura County Office of Education.  The primary concepts explored centered on technology infrastructural architecture as related to facilities as well as the integration of data systems across the enterprise.  The emphasis of this relationship brought to light multiple issues associated with the work of a CTO including strategies for handling power needs, HVAC systems, the placement of equipment, and security.

Next, we looked at how our systems integrate with one another.  The system of systems approach was the primary guide for this component of the learning.  Through multiple discussions, lectures, and videos, we came to conclude that our work as CTOs is to manage and lead not only systems but a collection of systems that pool their resources and capabilities together to create a new, more complex system. 

Most remarkably, through the practical work associated with this course, we discovered the sheer density of the number of complicated systems we work with as CTOs.  We conducted an analysis of systems such as our student information system, our fiscal system, our human resources systems, our food service systems, and our library/asset management processes.  Governing this collection is a much more challenging task than one may imagine because it not only requires strategic organization and deep understanding of the various technologies but a bevy of policies, processes, and standards that must be measured and continually monitored.

 

The last unit of the course centered on many legal regulations related to the business of running schools including:

  • Public contract code

  • Bidding processes for public projects

  • Cost accounting systems

Assessment and Accountability

Curriculum Summary

This session was presented by Mr. Craig Blackburn, Director of Technology Programs & Instructional Support at the Santa Clara County Office of Education.  Some of the objectives set out for the seminar included preparing us with a working knowledge of the relationship between standards, curriculum, and instruction with assessments.  This requires a working knowledge of the state assessments and how results are generally reported to multiple stakeholders including parents, students, and other educators.  As such, state and federal education accountability systems were reviewed (including how they are reported) as well as various assessment methods used by teachers in the classroom. 

Most interestingly, the seminar reviewed how teachers and administrators use data to improve student achievement.  Thanks to multiple measures, educators have many sets of data to work with in determining next steps for their students.  Simultaneously, school and district administrators may use the same data sets to establish macro goals for their local education agency or schools.  The key to ensuring data-driven progress is for our assessments to be well-aligned with our curriculum and our curricula be well-aligned with the California State Standards.

The seminar provided multiple insights regarding the California State Standards. The standards are the foundation of everything done in the classroom and as such, it is important that all stakeholders—from the students to the data base administrators—be aware of exactly what their purposes are which include:

  • Preparing students to succeed in our global economy and society

  • Provide students with rigorous content and applications of deep knowledge through higher order thinking skills.

  • Providing a vision of what it means to be an academically literate person.

 

Moreover, the history of assessment and accountability in the U.S. education system dating as far back as 1957 was looked at to provide a historical context of why we assess our students and programs the way we do.  The seminar concluded with an in-depth look at the new California Assessment Dashboard coupled with the new elements of the Every Student Succeeds Act.

Strategic Leadership

Curriculum Summary

This session was led by Mr. Robert Gravina, former CTO of Poway Unified School District, and Ms. Robin Canale, Project Management Professional.  The primary goal of the session was to support us as we demonstrate the ability to show professional growth in leadership.  Moreover, we worked toward formally evaluating the progress and learning resulting from the mentor-mentee partnership in the CCTO program.

By way of fostering effective communication and identifying strategic issues within the organization we work for, we discussed and reviewed the prime tenets of strategic planning to resolve strategic issues.  

 

This two-day seminar began with each candidate presenting a brief presentation regarding how we have grown throughout our involvement with the CCTO program.  But the bulk of the learning centered on multiple topics associated with strategic leadership such as:

  • Strong, professional relationships with vendors

  • Developing an ethical standard

  • Understanding our organization’s leadership structures

 

Of most interest was coming to terms with the differences between strategic leadership as opposed to operational leadership.  Too often, leading the day-to-day operation processes, assigning resources based on priorities, and achieving short-term goals is mistaken for strategic leadership.  Although important, these characteristics displayed by CTOs demonstrate operational command whereas developing long-term strategies by way of clear alignment of vision/mission/goals as well as the commitment of resources, both fiscal and human, are what are the characteristics of strategic leadership.

Ultimately, strategic leaders understand the people they lead, champion and facilitate processes, and use dialogue/deliberation to foster collective leadership.  Knowing your context and driving policy is the key to a successful career as a CTO.  Through these principles and strategic planning processes, we will best be preparing our education agencies to be future ready.

Technology Policies, Standards, and Plans

Curriculum Summary

This session was led by Mr. Robert Gravina, former CTO of Poway Unified School District, and Ms. Robin Canale, Project Management Professional.  The primary focus of the session centered on the ability to create and revise policies and procedures associated with the work of CTOs.  The seminar began with an overview of the processes involved with creating, approving, and implementing new policies.  Several examples of requisite policies were reviewed including the needs for including a formal policy for section 508 compliance (Americans with Disabilities Act).   

Multiple issues requiring planning and policies were discussed such as:

  • Tax regulations related to fringe benefits

  • The need for clear Acceptable Use Policies

  • The need for clear email retention policies

  • The need for clear document management policies

  • The need for well-articulated asset management policies

Moreover, considerable attention was devoted to Fair Use policies and ways to work with intellectual property in the public domain. 

The seminar concluded with an in-depth look at technology planning processes.  At the heart of the discussion was the need to develop a clear purpose for an agency’s technology plan including what its benefits may be.  One key point of discussion was that technology plans should encompass more than infrastructural management and technical needs.  The modern CTO must also consider curricular/instructional demands as well as ways to support the professional development of all staff in creating a technology plan for a school district.  Moreover, clearly describing a concrete method for monitoring and evaluating the implementation and success measures of a technology plan is what separates those plans that are written and filed away in a drawer as opposed to those plans that serve as a living document for the technology department—a document that can communicate both the vision and goals of the unit to all stakeholders both inside and outside of a local education agency.

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© by EMIL AHANGARZADEH.