Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Administrators: Setting the Vision

If change in instructional practice is going to happen, there are a series of questions that administrators and teachers must always keep in mind.

Let's start with the vision.
As instructional leaders, administrators set the vision. They must ask:
  • Why are we providing students with access to these tools?
  • How are we providing teachers with opportunities for the right professional learning?
  • What outcomes do we expect as a result of this investment?
  • How do we expect systemic change to happen?
  • What are the milestones we expect to see along the way?
Why are we providing these tools? 
  • Is it because all the other districts are doing it? If so, that's not a good answer.
  • Is it because we think it's the right thing to do, but we're not sure why. If so, thanks for being honest. Now it's time to think about the remaining questions! 
  • Is it because they will be using them upon graduation? If so, how will they be using them? Are we preparing them for that world by using technology for authentic purposes? 
  • Is it because they don't have the tools at home? If so, are we providing opportunities for students to do meaningful homework and ongoing projects for which the use of technology is necessary?
  • Is it because collaboration and communication are done more effectively using technology?
  • Is it because technology is essential for doing things never before imaginable?
  • Is it because creating new ideas means access to the most up-to-date sources and resources?
How are we providing ongoing, effective, professional learning opportunities for our teachers?
  • Do we have an instructional coach? Is that coach focused only on technology? Or is the coach someone who is focused on working with teachers to change instructional practice through the use of innovative instructional strategies? Then, when technology fits, is the coach there to support the teacher in using it?
  • When formal PD is offered, are teachers given the time to implement it and reflect on its use?
  • Do teachers have an opportunity to work regularly with other teachers?
  • Do teachers have a voice on how they want and need to use PLC time? Are they given opportunities to share what they have explored during PLC time?
  • How are teachers sharing their successes - and challenges - with instructional technology?
  • Are teachers encouraged to use technology as part of their professional planning, organizing, and communication? 
  • Do we model the effective use of technology for teachers?
 This is a big investment. What outcomes do we expect?
  • Increased test scores? You're probably looking at the wrong approach. Technology, in and of itself, is not going to increase test scores. Keep thinking.
  • Every student will be taking notes on a computer. Take a look at the research. Unless you have devices that allow your students to take notes using a stylus (one that feels like a pen or pencil and allows them to rest their hand on the screen), the neurons that we want to fire are not going to fire. Come to think of it,  are you still providing keyboarding classes? Research also says that the best way to take notes is the way that lets you process the information most quickly. So, if your students type more quickly than they write, go for it.
  • Formative assessment tools with immediate access to data. Woohoo! Yes, that is doable. 
  • Processing of content. My goodness, yes! There are so many tools available for students to read, write, speak and listen about the content they are learning.
  • Collaboration and communication - at its finest! Students can work together in person or remotely. They can communicate a message in ways never before possible - and on a timeline that still amazes me.
  • Creating is the highest level of the revised Bloom's Taxonomy, so you want them creating. Awesome! What are they creating? Movies? Podcasts? Online books? Apps for phones? Are they using this technology to design, plan, produce, animate, or publish? Create does not mean build a bulleted PowerPoint presentation. However, they could use PowerPoint, Prezi, or Keynote to effectively communicate about their creation and to explain their understanding of a topic as well as their process for applying, analyzing and evaluating their research.
How do we expect systemic change to happen?
  • What is the superintendent's role?
  • What is the role of district-level administration?
  • What is the principal's role?
  • What is the assistant principal's role?
  • What is the teacher's role?
  • What is the student's role?
  • What is the parents' role?

What are the milestones you expect to see?
  • Be practical. What do we expect to see by the end of the first year? The second year? The third year? Use backward design. If we want this to happen by June, what do we need to be doing by April, by January, by November, and at the start of the school year? 
  • How will we communicate these milestones? How will we get buy-in by all those involved?

This is no small investment - in time, effort, money, student learning. Take the time to think it through. Want to talk about it? Reach out. Let's talk.

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