Director or Coordinator?

Yesterday the central office staff met to go over our goals for the upcoming school year. Our superintendent talked with us about our roles as directors of our various departments. The emphasis this year is on “customer service” and on how we can play a supporting role for principals and teachers – those on the front lines of education. This got me to thinking about the terms “director” and “coordinator” and which we should really be using.

When I was hired, my title was “Technology Coordinator.” However, for several years now my title has been “Director of Technology.” I’ve noticed this shift in job titles in other districts, too, and it isn’t limited to my field, either. Our elementary curriculum coordinator is now “Director of Elementary Education,” and so forth. It seems like the word “director” has more panache, more punch and authority.

It may be just a matter of semantics, but it seems to me that the word “coordinator” best embodies the concept of a supporting role. “Director” implies a top-down, authoritative approach. “Coordinator” implies more collaboration and greater involvement with the stakeholders.

I’ve tried (with varying degrees of success) to use the coordinator’s collaborative approach when working with my team. When I was hired I was a teacher straight out of the classroom. The only real difference between me and our school tech coordinators was location and the number of days I worked annually. At that time, our school techs were called “technology specialists” similar to the concept of our media specialists. Some schools even used the term “technologist” – which to me always sounded contrived.

Eventually the school techs became “coordinators,” which caused some problems with my own position. Some of the companies and organizations I deal with were confused as to who the single point of contact might be. I even had one former member of our team advertise himself as the “technology coordinator for District Five” exaggerating the role he played in our district. These and other factors led to the eventual change in my own title.

There have been other changes, many I don’t agree with, but won’t belabor here. However, even though the titles may have changed, I think the ideal setup is as follows: one district coordinator who helps bring together the district’s instructional technology initiatives, and school technology specialists who are certified teachers, but have been trained in trouble-shooting, technology support, but who primarily have a strong background in technology integration. Given the changes and growth in our district, I don’t see that happening, but at least I’ll keep striving for that ideal.

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Comment (1)

  1. Ken C

    Goes along with what I observe at Clemson, and what I am told is happening at Furman. And everywhere I think. “Task Management”. Task-driven management. It doesn’t focus on relationships or collaboration, but rather on top-down directive leadership. The top person fills the role of the visionary, and the rest are his/her surrogate appendages and bots. Hersey and Blanchart talked about this years ago, but I forget what they called it.


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