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.
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.
The result: We are building our own capacity.
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?