Monday, April 27, 2009

Not a school + technology

Over the weekend I had the opportunity to attend the DEN Virtual Conference and listen to Chris Lehmann speak. One thing he said was that a school should not be a school + technology, the school should change the way it thinks and be different with the technology. I've already noticed that our school is becoming known as that "old" school with lots of new technology. I don't want people to think we just have it sitting around and our teachers aren't doing anything differently now that we have it.
Before spring break, I had a lot of this in my head and took a few moments to write it down. I now have a big yellow sheet of paper on my wall with all of my thoughts about how I'm going to change the way the teachers here think about how technology should be used in the classroom. I immediately thought of that big yellow sheet when I was listening to Chris speak and was excited to hear him talk about the things I had already been considering.

I have a lot of ideas and hope to get more as I talk with others over the next few months.
First of all, I need to change the way I'm doing training. When I first got here, I found that most teachers just needed to be introduced. They weren't aware of the things that were out there for them and I needed to make them aware of what is available. We focused on Web 2.0 quite a bit. I"ve noticed this year a shift in how teachers are looking at things. Many are asking for more and they want to practice and play.

With that in mind, next year my trainings will be mostly hands on and the teachers will leave with some kind of product. They'll learn as a student would in the classroom. I'll play the part of the teacher and we'll focus on various disciplines throughout the year. I'm hoping that by modeling how the teacher should be in the classroom, we'll end up with a more seamless integration of technology at our school.

In each of my trainings, I hope to cover 3 important things:
1. What do you, as the teacher, NEED to know to do this project
2. What do you, as the teacher, need to be able to learn ALONG WITH your students
3. How do you foster the collaborative classroom atmosphere (tips, thoughts, sharing, etc.)

I'm hoping that by covering each of these a little in every session, not only will the teacher better understand the project and how it can be used in their classroom, but they can also begin to understand the importance of collaboration.

I'm currently working with my administrative team to make the theme of next year "collaboration". The new lab we're doing, the new teacher appraisal instrument and the PLC's all are focused on collaboration so I think it stands out as a theme to carry through the year. Announcing this at the beginning of the year and then mentioning it several times throughout will surely help in placing the focus in the right direction.

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