1:1 with kids….what are the first steps?

As I mentioned in my first post (ever, I might add) I hope that my reflections on our journey can be helpful to others who are contemplating this incredible evolution or who are like me, and find themselves in the midst of it as a leader.  I think it’s important  to share some background steps my district provided for us at the school sites. This link will take you to a ppt slide show that includes a summary of how we got to January 25….the Board of Education meeting where the history and subsequent pilot were rolled out and approval was requested. The slide you would want to notice if you want some steps from the district perspective is slide 2.

Other items of note in the summary/history are:

  • a “field trip” to Springfield, Illinois (3 hours or so from St. Louis). Springfield Public Schools are currently implementing a 1:1 initiative. My colleagues who attended were so impressed with the evidence they saw in  Springfield. Kudos to Springfield!
  • you can read about the WHY of Ipads on slide 10 ~ we are actually going ahead with the Mini’s, rather than straight up Ipads. I guess I need to get more proficient with my thumbs!
  • You can also read our plan to gather evidence of success of the pilot.  This is on slide 16.

One thing that  Springfield shared, and we had already jumped on, was their wish that they had put Ipads into the hands of teachers FIRST, well ahead of the kids. That makes sense. Imagine being told you were going to need to modify your teaching and planning using this fabulous new tool that you were going to get at the same time as the kids. Imagine learning the tech at the same time in the kids. Who are we kidding? The kids would be light years ahead of some of us, if we didn’t already have the technology on our own.   Can you just feel the angst of teachers as they worked to not feel inept in front of their students, tried to muddle through questions from the kids, learn apps, figure out how to stop the stupid thing from rotating every time you turned it (spoken from experience).  What would the learning be like for the kids?  Not so great…. or at least, it would happen at a much slower rate.

My district is led by wise people, who also rely on other wise people around the table. One incredibly smart move they made was to put an Ipad into EVERY teachers hands one full year before anticipated student implementation. You heard me….every teacher.   I cannot speak to the roll out and technical end of this massive distribution last summer, but I can speak to the real life, day to day reactions of teachers in my building.

THRILLED.

OPTIMISTIC.

RELIEVED.

TICKLED.

HONORED.IMG_0280

Folks were provided the device, and an overview Professional Development session to get them started and then given permission to LIVE WITH THE IPAD. Get to know it, get to know how it works, work at your pace, ask questions in the safety of your comfort zone at your school and see where it takes you. And ~ oh the places we have gone. Without the pressure of having to integrate with children ASAP, my staff is now at an incredible proficiency level, and it’s only been one semester.  And when I say proficient, I mean more than finding cool apps.  We use Ipads at data meetings, Professional Development sessions, team meetings, coaching sessions, classroom observations, to collect footage of kids to use for problem solving…you get the idea.

As  leader, it was nothing I mandated, nothing I started monitoring.  I modeled, I was excited and I celebrated when I saw the Ipads being used to do something we already did…better.  They are becoming a part of our culture, rather than an imposed HAVE TO. IMG_0278

The result:  We are building our own capacity.

Input encouraged:

How have you used Ipads used by teachers and/or teacher teams? How do you as a leader encourage, nudge and support along the way?

A long time coming…

As I noted above, I hope to document the journey of my school, Robinson Elementary, as we move towards a 1 to 1 device environment.  But, it did not start with us. In fact, it didn’t even start recently.   Conversations, mini-pilots, teacher roll outs have been going on for 3 years and all led to a presentation to our Board of Education last week, January 25.  You can read the report here and also click to see the video of the smart team of folks presenting and answering questions from the board.

I am picking up the story from the day after the vote; the point at which my school enters the pilot.  We will begin with two dynamic teacher leaders who are members of our district Technology Leaders Group and who will test the waters of this initiative for us. They are well respected on our staff, well read learners, innovative in their practice,  and risk takers. I will introduce you to them shortly and explain some more about the WHY of the pilot. I think inviting the right people to pilot is key to an initiative such as this.

Any input for me?

What do you think of when you consider who might be the best to pilot an initiative? How do you help teacher leaders, who might know they are teacher leaders, evolve into teacher leaders? (wordy enough for you?)

What do you think of the presentation to our board? Does it answer questions for you or raise more?

So, how the heck do you start this work?

This blog is my attempt at leading by example, jumping in with both feet, taking a leap, running a risk, putting myself out there….all those things I hope for, dream of and nudge my staff of elementary school teachers to do. So why don’t I know how to start?  Well, let’s start with the WHY.

My point in starting this blog is to document the journey of my elementary school, Robinson Elementary,  to a 1 to 1 device environment.  It is exciting to me as someone who has finally figured out that our kids A. learn differently B. have different needs than we did as kids and C. are going to lead us in a world that is far different even the world today. (That epiphany was a big day…you should have been there!)

So, here I am , ready to lead a staff into teaching in a 1 to 1 environment.  Well, hopefully, ready….I went researching…I looked for examples….I wanted to find places that had it figured out so I could learn from others. I wanted to ask questions, look for exemplars and hook my teachers up with others.  I wanted to find a fellow elementary administrator who has walked the walk so I could borrow plays from her playbook.  I have come to realize that for true examples of 1 to 1, the examples are few and far between. (Forgive me if you are reading this and are THE shining example, please contact me! )

I get it. There is a huge financial investment (Kudos to KSD for taking this on!) as well as so many questions to work through (Do they go home with kids? Kindergarten….really? What about breakage? What if the kids know more about technology than staff?) But one of the reasons I love my school district is this commitment which to me is also a commitment to educational equity. My district is committing to leveling the playing field so all of our students have equal access. I owe it to all of my kids to try and stay maybe a step ahead.

Some questions for those who have found this digital wanna-be:

If you are working in a 1 to 1 environment, what were some steps you considered before launching in with your staff?  What devices are you  using (we will be using Ipad-Minis).  What are the pit falls?  What advice can you give me?

If you are not working in a 1 to 1 environment, what might you suggest I consider?  What am I not thinking about?