Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Technology - All in!

All in!  Many times this is an expression used with playing cards.  However in this case, let's talk about embedding technology into our students academic experience.

For the past year I have continued to push my staff to try innovative strategies with technology to teach the content that they deliver.  My message was simple: "Embed technology into your teaching, into your instruction, with passion and purpose."  With that charge I have been purposeful in supporting them along the way.  We have had professional development sessions from our district support team and from within our building. Teachers have been provided, at no cost to them, devices (iPads) to use at their discretion and the gadgets that go with them.  With those devices came unlimited PD for implementation.  We have invested our staff meeting time after school to sessions of sharing best practices with technology be our own teachers. We became teachers to each other.

The process that we have gone through has been purposeful.  We, the staff, had the tough conversations about our building being BYOD friendly and actually encouraging our students to have and use their devices throughout the school day.  The staff did their reading and the research and found exemplars of expectations, rules, messaging and family buy-in.  The administration provided the evidence of schools, and districts, that have been successful with their intentional roll-out of being technology driven.  And of course, we began our discussion with talking about the barriers and worked through them in engaging conversation as to remove that false front that would have stopped so many before even trying.

With all of this I have had some amazing successes!  Many teachers are exploring all of the creative ways to speak the "language" of our youth.  They encourage devices for exploration of their content. Teachers use the Google platform to assign and collect written work, make revisions and give assessments.  They invest time with online videos and text.  Remind 101, Evernote and Twitter are common place in various classrooms across the building.  And, what is impressive is that overwhelming they want more.  For this group of teachers, I am in awe of their dedication to the charge that was given.

So where I am now is simple.  This far into the process it is time to say, "All in".  With the methodical steps we have taken and the supports that we have built in, it is time to expect teachers, all teachers, to fulfill the expectation, the charge.  We will always have obstacles in our day.  We can always make excuses.  However, without hesitation or reservation, we are at a place where it is time to drink the water, sip the Kool-aid and most certainly push your chips to the center and say, "All in".