Where I work teachers are required to implement technologies into the classroom in a meaningful way; it is considered part of our professional responsibility. As with most things there is a wide gap of knowledge and experience regarding technology within the 65 plus teachers at my school. My passion for technology seems to have only increased as the year has progressed and for the most part, as I reflect, I am happy with the growth we've made this year. However, sometimes I struggle with how much I want to accomplish and how to get there.
Our journey began early this year when our Technology Committee (TC) decided they wanted to step back, clearly define its working agreements, beliefs and its purpose and dedicate the year to building capacity in order to support our staff.
1. Agenda sent out in advance.
2. Honor and respect each other's time i.e. do not engage in time wasting behavior e.g. unnecessary cell phone, cross talk, off topic, consistently late.
3. Use the seven norms: Pausing, Paraphrasing, Posing Questions, Putting ideas on the table, Providing data, Paying attention to self and others, Presuming positive intentions.
In order for technology to be a powerful tool/resource, it must be student centered, authentic, integrated seamlessly and accessed equitably.
When this occurs, technology will transform teaching and learning.
Because technology is ever changing, it requires ongoing support to empower users and continuous digital citizenship education.
- Building capacity to empower and support staff and students.
- Advise in the acquisition and implementation of technologies and school wide policies/procedures.
At the same time our school was selected to participate in a Chromebook (CB) pilot project that would see nearly 200 grade seven students and their teachers be loaned a CB for the school year. There was a lot (and will be) significant crossover between the Tech Committee and Chromebook pilot committee, both in membership and purpose. Grade seven is the entry point to our school and the project will grow each year and involve more students and teachers. Next year will see nearly 400 students and their teachers in grade seven and eight as part of the pilot. In many ways the students are helping to push the need for teachers to build capacity and the committees are providing the supports and advice along the way.
We have tried to offer capacity building for teachers with mixed success. Our Teacher Librarian has an open door for teachers to ask for support or to help develop lessons integrating technology, she has also offered lunch and after school sessions. We have tried to create weekend cohorts, but with the exception of our already “advanced” TC members, we have had limited interest.
Our most successful PD in technology occurs when we integrate it into the day. We try to influence technology usage by integrating it into our staff meetings. All staff members are to bring a device to every meeting and at some point they need to use it in some way. At recent meetings we used Screencastify to present information and then a QR code linked to a google form for a survey for teachers to fill out. Another day the CB pilot committee developed critical thinking challenges for grade seven students to free up time for teachers to learn, plan and experiment with technology. We are planning an annual “technology fair” where teacher experts will offer a variety of sessions during one of our school-based professional development days. Our Learning Commons (which is accessed by 100’s of students a day) needs to be booked by filling out a Google form. Most information from the office including agendas and reports are increasingly being “shared” instead of being “sent” or “attached.”
A year ago some teachers were amazed when they saw me edit a Google doc live as someone else was adding to it or had never been able to sign into their Google account. I sometimes need to remember the growth of our staff and celebrate that instead of being consumed with pushing where I want to go.