What? Start with Why? How?

Posted by Charlotte Curl - Last updated on December 13, 2019

What? Start with Why? How?

Implementing new technology in school

How many pieces of technology end up collecting dust, clogging up the IT cupboard or act as strange looking hat-stands in classroom corners? Here’s our advice for how to stop this happening…

School leadership teams know why they decide to change their schools approach, strategy or why they chose to purchase a new technology. The why is linked to the leadership’s goals and objectives and may be something along the lines of: “because we want to move to 90% of teachers being good or outstanding”.

When new ideas or projects are introduced to staff however, the why may not be clear and they may just see the what. For example they may see new interactive white boards, iPads for every student, or an IRIS Connect system, arrive in the school but the purpose for it may stay unknown.

If we don’t link the what (the technology) with the why (the purpose or goal), and bridge them with a how (a strategy for using the technology to move toward the goal), is it reasonable to expect teachers to spend time embedding the new technology into their everyday practice?

Three steps to effective implementation of technology to improve teaching and learning:

1. Communicate WHY

Ensure that staff understand and have buy-in to the reasons and purpose for adopting a new school or classroom technology system. Link this to personal and professional objectives and day to day lives. If you can make this concrete and relevant to them and show why it will benefit them as well as their classes, then it’s much more likely to strike a chord and be seen as a valuable addition.

E.g. “Seeing one-another teach and collaborating with colleagues will support all of our teachers to become good or outstanding.

2. Set out HOW

Put into place strategies for how you will use the technology to move towards your desired outcome as a school, as collagues and as teachers.

E.g. “We are going to run a lesson study project to facilitate a more collaborative approach to planning and reviewing lessons”.

3. Link the WHAT to WHY and HOW

Make sure the technology is an integral part of the HOW, not just a trendy fad the school has thrown money at!

E.g. “We are going to use IRIS Connect to film lessons, rather than have to take time out to do an in-class lesson observation, and share with our Lesson Study group for effective feedback and discussion. This will free up time, increase the quality and quantity of conversations and provide teachers with a simple classroom observation option”.

At a recent IRIS Connect community conference, when discussing effective adoption of IRIS Connect, it was clear that communicating the why is vital, otherwise teachers just saw a camera and web-platform. The 30 or so school leaders shared their WHY’s and HOWs with IRIS Connect:Communicating IRIS Connect



  • To increase the proportion of Good to Outstanding across the whole school
  • Links to performance management and personalised CPD
  • Fantastic opportunity to develop practice - self and peer observation
  • Film feedback sessions
  • To support personalised CPD
  • NQT programme
  • To empower staff to improve their teaching
  • Sharing Outstanding practice
  • To provide the best learning opportunities and outcomes for students
  • Coaching and mentoring models, or peer to peer mentoring
  • To create a greater culture and more informed self-reflection
  • Assembly, Wow sessions and interviews
  • To remove the fear of observations
  • Action research link to MA awards
  • To provide common understanding of what good/outstanding looks like
  • Learning leaders

Simon Sinek wrote a great book called “Start With Why”, if you’re interested in finding out more about how to inspire people and gain buy-in to your ideas then it’s worth a read or if you want something a little quicker his 20 minute TED video is worth a watch.

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