I've come up for air after the first two weeks of school. As teachers, we know it is important to pause periodically to 1) breathe! and 2) reflect on what has been learned, what has been accomplished, and what still needs to be done.
So here goes. (Pause for deep breaths).
What have we as a faculty and staff learned? So much! I was impressed and humbled by the positive energy and excitement I encountered among my colleagues regarding technology integration during the first couple weeks of school. I should not have been surprised. I work with amazing people. But what I learned as the tech coach is that time is often the most important yet overlooked element of any technology integration program. Many of my colleagues who found the idea of 1:1 iPads overwhelming or uncomfortable last year have jumped in with both feet this year. They simply needed the time to adjust to the idea, consider the possibilities, consult with colleagues, and develop their own methods.
So what has been accomplished? Much broader and deeper incorporation of technology into teaching practice and classroom management. A good example is our LMS system, Schoology. Although it was available during our first year of the 1:1 iPad program, teachers' use of it was inconsistent. But based on requests and feedback from students last year about the program, I encouraged our faculty and staff to use it in ways that would be more effective and consistent. And it is working. Most, if not all, of my colleagues have developed course pages and begun using them more deliberately. And the students are benefitting as a result.
In addition, the creative energy and commitment in the building is inspiring. As the tech coach, I have met one-on-one and answered more email questions with more teachers in two weeks than I did in an entire month last year. And all of those meetings and questions have been in the spirit of moving forward. "I want to share audio comments with my students," said one teacher. "Can you help me find the best tool?" Another said, "I want my students to be able to organize their club online. How do I help them make that happen?" Another wanted to find a way to consolidate student research about homeless resources in Portland into one digital reference that they could all share.
Notice the trend in these questions? They start with learning objectives or goals, then consider whether digital tools might be useful in meeting those objectives and goals.
That brings me to the final question--what are the next steps? The challenge will be to keep up the enthusiasm and learning as the year progresses and we get busier. A series of optional workshops on topics requested by the faculty will help fuel creativity. Frequent opportunities for feedback from students and colleagues will guide our efforts. The key will be for us to continue exploring how tech tools can help each of us create new opportunities for deeper learning for our students.
My Edutopia article 5 Epiphanies About Learning in a 1:1 Classroom sparked some questions and conversation about implementation programs. I certainly cannot claim to have all the answers. If you are considering a 1:1 program at your school or district, you've probably already noticed how many moving parts exist. And no program, no matter how much support it receives, will run smoothly.
The SMA administration and IT director started planning for implementation two years before the students received devices. I use the term "planning" loosely. The best thing they did was to assume they did NOT have the answers. Instead, they asked lots of questions.
About this blog...
Learners Together is designed as a forum for sharing ideas, experiences and epiphanies about master teaching and technology integration. Comments and sharing are welcome.
"Getting Girls into STEM: The Power of Blended (and All-Female) Instruction". (Tormala) EdSurge, March 21, 2017.
"Confronting the Abominable Snow Day". (Gilbert & Tormala) Edutopia, Feb. 2017.
"Video Interviews with iPads: The Power of Mobile Technology". (Tormala) EdTechTeam, Jan 2017.
"Discomfort, Growth, and Innovation." (Tormala) Edutopia, Oct. 2016.
"5 Epiphanies on Learning in a 1:1 iPad Classroom." (Tormala) Edutopia, July 2014.