In my school context, I have taken on the role of technology support person for the staff and students in the building. My primary role is to ensure that all the technology is up to date, apps that teachers want are input onto devices, and providing classrooms and students with equitable access to technology. In addition, this past year I attempted to support my staff with implementing technologies to enhance their teaching and learning. I was lucky enough to have been gifted time to go into classrooms to suppor.t However, unfortunately, not many people took me up. Looking back, I realized I did not have a vision and a plan for implementation, exploration, and support. As I transition into this new administration role this year, I reflect on how to be a Lead Learner in the school and not only support teachers in learning and implementation, but also to model exploration and vulnerability of myself.
I have spent the last five days out on the UBC campus in Vancouver at the BCPVPA Administrators Short Course. We have had the amazing opportunity to listen to a variety of thoughtful, intelligent, and courageous leaders in educational leadership and one of the main ideas that have been shared is the idea of being a Lead Learner.
As I reflect on that and how I can implement that idea into my school, I think about the importance of having a vision. When the ISTE standards were included in our EDCI 568 course readings for the week, I had never seen or even heard of them before! ISTE stands for the International Society for Technology in Education and there are standards on the site for students, educators, and administrators. See the Standards for each group below. Click on each image for more detailed information about the standards.
The revised BC curriculum has allowed for so much more flexibility, freedom, and exploration of the use of technology into our teaching. And I know that teachers are starting to use different tools to help support their teaching, however, I think we can be so much more intentional with our implementation and use. Teachers are using apps and platforms that they are comfortable with, which is great, but I think for the sake of our learners, we need to be brave and try to improve our practice with the incorporation of new ways of thinking, access to international audiences, and developing problem solving strategies. As we know, the world around us is always changing and we need to make sure our learners are experienced, educated, and safe users of technology.
Michelle Haiken is a veteran middle school English teacher in New York and recently published a book titled “New Realms for Writing: Inspire Student Expression with Digital Age Formats.” She provides experiences for her students where they can expand ways in which they can produce written work, help her get to know them better by providing options, giving them opportunities to amplify her students voices, and giving access to a variety of formats and audiences. Some examples she shares in in the book, shared in an article written by Benjamin Herold are:
- Mixing poetry and coding – using tools such as Makey Makers, Scratch, audio recording software, and other digital tools to create interactive presentations of the poems they chose.
- Working across disciplines and giving students choice – after research of their own independent inquiries, students showcased their work in either a traditional text-based annotated bibliography or a visual infographic. In addition, students shared their conclusions in a podcast, video recorded TEDtalk, or traditionla narrative nonfiction essay.
- Murder Mystery with a twist – as she read an Agatha Christie murder mystery, students were given the task of choosing a character, identifying a theme song that fit the character, and produce a quick music video tying the two together.
When reading these types of examples, I get extremely excited, however I go back to teacher workload. There are so many great initiatives and great things that we need to be infusing into our teaching (e.g. Indigenous education, SEL, Self-Regulation, Mental Health, new approaches to teaching Math, PBL, Inquiry, and the list goes on) and I want to make sure my teachers are feeling that there is the space to explore and be innovative, but being cautious of burnout. As an teacher leader, I think about how I can support my staff and students in the building. Some ideas that are rattling around my head on this topic are:
- Reviewing ISTE standards and see how we are doing as a school with them
- Developing a technology agreement (statt AND students) with our common understandings about how we use and care for technology, as well as what we are already doing/using in the building and who feels comfortable with those platforms and where we see ourselves moving next
- Trying out some new things in my classroom and with my collaborative team (and showcasing at staff meetings and professional development)
- Providing support sessions for staff (for FreshGrade, robots, coding, ADST curriculum implementation, etc.)
I am so inspired and excited by this course as it is already giving me things to think about and implement into my own teaching and leading.