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I had the opportunity to attend the eTech Ohio Conference (#oetch11) on Monday, January 31, 2011. It’s a three day event, but with budget and time constraints, I was only able to attend one day. I am excited to attend each year, hoping to take away at least one new idea I can share with my staff. This year, I heard two presentations that were inspiring, encouraging, and practical. However, I will only reflect one the first one in this post.
The keynote presenter was Peter Sheahan and his message was Change Unleashed: From Acquisition to Application of Technology. Not only was his presentation style engaging, but he modeled the application of technology to increase learning. Peter’s comments are in the bold face italicized font and the bullet points represent my reflections:
• We strongly encourage teachers to try something new in the classroom. We sent over 45 teachers from across the district to KipCamp, which is a three-day intense social media training. Not only did we walk away with awareness of all the tools available, but enthusiasm to use them right away. As a result, several teachers in my building have integrated Prezi, Glogster, student choice, more alternative ways for students to demonstrate their learning, Wikispaces, etc.
• I have privately and publicly recognized teachers who have taken risks to try something new by nominating teachers for our monthly staff recognition, sending them a text message, and/or sharing their experience with other teachers.
“A survey that was conducted in 2009 asked what people couldn’t live without. Food didn’t even make the list! The list was full of technology. In 2009, the results were the same: flat screens, iPods, cell phone, etc. This was the list for adults, not students.”
• Re-educating the adults of the school community (teachers, parents, and administrators) will help create a school culture of that embraces and maximizes the potential of technology integration. We now allow students to use mobile devices in between classes, during lunch, before school and after school. Teachers have the choice of allowing students to use them in their classes.
“We judge ourselves by our INTENT and we judge others by their “IMPACT.”
• I have made this mistake way too many times to count, so to hear it this way was like a punch in the face! To overcome this mistake, at our next staff meeting I plan to apologize for being judgmental and for being insensitive to the heavy load many are feeling due to a number of factors. Then, I will continue to recognize and celebrate the IMPACT that individual teachers have on our students by sharing their stories publicly at staff meetings, in a blog, and/or through Twitter. I will spend time, like during my No Office Day, to see for myself the impact and then praise the teachers in front of their students.
“How can you create a culture of technology use in your school?” Peter provided some excellent practical ideas that can be implemented right away:
• Provide weekly, monthly, regularly scheduled time for people to share stories about the vision in action.
• Use technology to remind teachers how effective the use of technology is in classroom in terms of engaging students.
• Unblock sites such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Glogster, Wikipedia, etc.
• Have “technology only” days in the classroom, which will encourage both students and teachers to use it for learning.
“The number one challenge we have to break is thinking that the educator has to control the room.”
• I think about a number of teachers in my building who have gained control by relinquishing control. By that, I mean they have controlled the outcome of the class, which is learning, but establishing clear expectations upfront, showing students how to learn, and then providing them many opportunities to do it. They also provide ongoing feedback, both formally and informally.
Change is difficult, but change is also necessary. If you not us, then who? If not now, then when? After all, we have a moral obligation to prepare our students for their future, not our present.