Nothing is more exciting than seeing your ideas come to life. Last month our tech team gathered several times to create a three year plan for technology. It turned out to become a campaign for professional development centered around helping teachers learn to use technology in the classroom. It’s a big undertaking.
This month our creative juices and enthusiasm kept flowing and my “IT” campaign is now underway. We will kick off the theme at the start of the schools year 2016-2017 with a skit for teachers making fun of our own technological short comings. During our teacher work days the team will lead daily games like “A Minute to Win “IT”. When students return we will play “IT” themed songs during morning announcements and have dress down days for teachers once a month so they can show off their “IT” t-shirts with the slogan “POP IT”, on the front (POP stands for Prince of Peace), and “We’ve got IT – do you?” on the back. As Harvard Business School leaders have touted, you can’t over communicate your message.
Each month a secret pal from the Tech Team will gather helpful ideas for classroom technology and attach it to a snack that will appear in teacher mailboxes. The teachers’ lounge will have a “TechKNOWLEDGEogy Tree” where teachers can “pick IT” – lesson plan ideas – that help them use the technology they have in their classrooms. The cards, shaped like fruit, will have QR codes leading to online information about lesson plan ideas.
None of this would be possible without the commitment of our principal. Her vision is to return technology to where it belongs – the hands of the teachers. You may wonder why that is. As our school grew from a small elementary school with 30 students to a preK to 8 with nearly 500 in 15 years, technology became a standalone class. It needs to be reconnected to the lessons with which it will bring the greatest value, and that is only found in the classroom.
Teaching technology on its own was necessary years ago because technology changed so quickly that teachers had to rely on a centrally located tech lab, which they shared. Many teachers were not investing in technology outside of school; using smart phones and ipads in daily life, as we do today. When the number of students out numbered desktops, technology became its own course. During the last four years we have invested in mobile technologies that meet the needs of students at each grade level. Now it’s time to reinvest in the knowledge of the teachers so learning can be enhanced through digital content and creation.
With the support of leadership, accountability is also being added to the professional goals of all faculty. Teachers will be asked to chose four lessons during the year in which they use technology with the aim of meeting technology and subject goals. Response Forms have been created allowing each teacher to invite another teacher to model a lesson in a classroom using the chosen technology. Of course, I will continue to model teaching with technology everyday, when I visit faculty through out the year, but this new option encourages elementary teachers to work with middle school teachers and visa versa for support.
“IT is Time”. “This is IT”. Only when teachers are truly confident using technology will IT return to the classroom as a strategic tool for expanding education. When “IT” is as useful as a white board, and as common as a workbook, “IT” will be nothing less than amazing.
Image Source: Google Images licensed for reuse