How do districts keep up in this age of ever changing technology tools and shrinking school budgets?
Everyday I hear about a new tool to use in the classroom or a new technique on how to use the technology. Where I work we have seen our budget shrink every year for the past 7. Our Technology Director position is now filled by the business manager and we have 2 tech support people for 3,200 students and 7 buildings.
How do we keep up? Our district does the best it can by trusting the teachers to become experts in various technology skills and then share the skills back with the leadership and fellow teachers. We also utilize our Intermediate School District and the technology support that they provide to the all 21 districts in the county. Districts can’t afford to have a resident expert in all technology. We have been struggling to keep pace with change. Some of our administrators are not technology-savvy and do not feel comfortable using all of the tools at hand.
So do administrators have to be technology-savvy themselves in order to be effective technology leaders in their organizations?
Simple answers is NO. Administrators have to create a culture of learning and sharing among staff. Administrators have to trust their staff on leading them in the right direction. They also need to develop strong questioning skills to ask the staff about the technology to be reassured that the district is moving in the correct direction. Shared leadership helps districts keep pace with the technology change. Districts can’t afford to have a resident expert in all technology. They have to have trust in their staff to become experts in select technology. Then build an atmosphere of respect so staff feel comfortable training each other. The moment someone becomes an “expert” in a product, a newer, better, version is being released. If one person was trying to keep pace they would never have time train staff. Challenge yourself as a leader to share our leadership with your staff.
Two final thoughts-
1: Leaders have to embrace technology and learn if they want their staff to do the same. They don’t have to be savvy or the expert but they need to learn.
2. A great leaders isn’t the smartest person in the room but the one who surround themselves with the smartest people. If you know you have knowledge deficits try to find people to help fill in the knowledge void.
Here is the link to the archive of the inaugural #mschat on storify. Thanks to @tchrmom2boys for helping archive.
It was a great chat, with a large group of middle school educators discussing: How to start the year off right in the Middle School. There are many great ideas and good links.
Hope you can join us for chat #2 on 8/23 at 8 pm EST.
Our Twitter poll has closed, our first topic will be: How to start the school year off right: ideas for the first weeks in a middle school.
For some teachers school has already started, others of us are starting in the next few weeks. This is a great topic for all educators. I always have mixed emotions about starting the school year. I am excited to meet and work with a new group of students. I am nervous about how the students will respond to my teaching. I am a bit sad to not have my former students in class. I know the hardest weeks of the school year are the first few, because it is so important to establish the student/teacher relationship. I am always look for new ideas to help me engage ALL of my students.
I am looking forward to sharing and learning from all the teachers and leaders that join us Thursday for the first #mschat of the 2012/2013 school. I hope it will be the first of many learning opportunities for me/us.
The Middle school chat poll is out at http://twtpoll.com/nhkze6
1. How do you connect with your student at the beginning of the year to develop a positive relationship?
2. Start of the new year right; Ideas for the first few weeks.
3. How to engage the wandering middle schooler’s mind.
4. Tech in the Middle School- The do’s and don’ts
5. Goal setting in the Middle School- The How, when and why.
Chat will be August 9th at 8 pm EST. We hope to have a positive chat specific to middle school issues. We have a great list of topics for the year. Looking forward to connecting with great middle school minds.
As I begin this journey of starting #mschat (August 9, 8 pm EST every other week), I have been asked by friends and colleagues Why?
The simple answer is to get off the “island of teaching” and into a collaborative group. It really goes back to my first year of teaching: I was struggling getting a grip on the what and how to teach. I asked my veteran grade level teaching partner if we should meet with teachers in another building to discuss the issues. She answered: “No we have to figure it out, our principal would not like that.” I felt isolated and alone. Teaching has traditionally been this way sadly. Teachers, schools and districts have been hesitant to share what the are doing (The good, bad and ugly). Education is not a competition, we all have the same goal so we need to collaborate.
Last year I stumbled upon educational value twitter at the suggestion of a friend. On twitter all of the educators are helping each other reach the common goal of student learning and quality teaching. Over the past year I have participated in many chats that have help me grow. The chats make me reflect on my teaching and give me insight into what other teachers are doing in their classroom. I have found great tools and lesson ideas by being a connected educator. Better yet I have forged relationships with other educators from around the world. I have a large group of teachers to ask advice of, share ideas with, and collaborate. Observing a void in the conversation specific to the middle school needs, I along with my principal (@wwmsprincipal) have decided to start #mschat. Topics will be picked using a twitter poll, focusing on Middle School issues.
I encourage all educators to become connected. Start slow by following people you know. Lurk in chats, until you feel comfortable. I feel it is best just to try it out and find your comfort level. The community is welcoming and full of help. If you don’t understand how something works, tweet a question and the community will answer. Educators that feel isolated and want to get off the “island” need to explore all of the social media options and become connected.
I have been on actively on twitter as an educator for a little over a year, in this time I have found wonderful connections to educators from around the world. I have found incredible resources and insights from educators of all levels. I value all of the people in my growing PLN. One thing that seems missing is a chat/group dedicated solely to Middle School Issues. So after conversations with members of my PLN and encouragement from my principal. I am going to moderate a #mschat starting August 9th at 8pm. This chat will be a twice monthly chat focusing on current middle school issues. I hope this will be a time where middle school teachers can share the great things that are going on at their schools and also talk about the challenges of teaching at this level. I look forward to learning and growing with all of the connected educators out there. See you in 2 weeks.
For the past 2 years or so the political world and educational world have be colliding due to the state of our educational system. Many are touting new ideas to “Fix” education. Fingers are being pointed at different parties to blame. Businesses are circling like vultures to pick at the billions of dollars spent in the system.
So how do we fix education? Is there a silver bullet/ one size fits all/ quick fix?
Well the answer to the second question is easy: NO it will be situational fixes that take time.
How: well that is the hard one. Why is the system in need of a “Fix”?
Well in my opinion it is due to our culture shifting away from valuing education and knowledge. Our society let education become what it is today. We as a collective value pop culture, material possession and entertainment over education.
Just look at where the money goes and this is evident. This value shift from hard work and education of earlier generations has had great impact on the educational system. Society needs to shift the focus back to education. Here are a few ideas to get started in the shift:
- Hold teachers in high regard, respect what they say like you do your doctor or lawyer.
- Businesses need to partner with schools to set up programs to assist students.
- Address the hidden curriculum, teacher teach so much more that the core. Poverty needs to be addressed.
- Have pop-culture reflect education as a “must needed value” instead of stars sharing that they made it despite dropping out. Or showing education locations as a “party” back drop.
To truly fix education we need to change society to value education!