Image via I Can Read
I hope everyone is enjoying a beautiful summer! I’ve been relishing time with my family and friends and having more opportunities to read (lots of fiction!), work on passion projects, and reflect on my learning here. And, full disclosure: watch plenty of reality TV. In my last post I shared some reflections from my first year in an instructional tech integrator’s role. Using these End of Year Reflection Questions from Elena Aguilar, here are some of my thoughts about work to be done this summer and my hopes for next school year.
Relationships and Communication
Last year I think I did an adequate job of establishing relationships with teachers with whom I had not previously collaborated, but my efforts could be much improved in this area. By asking teachers to share their visions for how technology can support their classroom activities, by encouraging them to be open about their strengths and needs, and just by being present, I hope to strengthen relationships with classroom teachers.
Quite honestly, another relationship that needs to be improved is that between the instructional technology team and the district technology team. Last year, the secondary tech integrator, assistant superintendent and I met regularly to discuss instructional tech topics and what we needed to happen to support teaching and learning in our realm. While I am not the biggest fan of meetings, I will say that these meetings were productive and powerful. Why? For a few reasons. The agendas were built by the participants, using Google docs. We documented notes, celebrations, to dos, and our needs. Also, the meetings were very focused and Tim and I felt like we could speak our minds and were 100% supported by our amazing assistant superintendent. The purpose of these collaborative sessions was to ensure that the learning drives our decisions with technology – not that the tech drives what we do in our classrooms. On occasion, the technology director attended these meetings if we had to discuss the technical side of things or software/hardware specifics. He also held weekly tech team meetings with his department (the technicians) and the tech integrators had an open invitation. Because these meetings were held at a time where the elementary students were still in session, I often was booked to teach lessons or be with teachers during that time. For that reason, I barely attended any of those tech meetings. My secondary tech integrator colleague kept me up to date with what was discussed and shared any questions I had with the team if I couldn’t be present. I am very thankful that Tim was willing to attend these meetings and keep me in the loop. So, we continue to need to establish an open and honest forum where both departments are willing to listen and acknowledge the needs of the other, yet ultimately decisions need to be made based on what is best for teaching and learning, with teacher, administrator, and integrator input; not based on what is convenient or preferred by the technology department.
As I quickly realized when I was a principal, effective communication is truly one of the essential ingredients of powerful leadership. Communication needs to be timely, two-way, respectful, and address the needs of everyone involved in the conversations.
I will continue teaching digital citizenship lessons to students district-wide next year, so I need to embrace the enormous task of building relationships with kids whom I only will work with a small handful of times/year. I need to try to get to know something about each and every one of them. This is difficult! When you’re not localized to a building, and you work with hundreds of kids, this is an overwhelming task! But not an impossible one.
In August I’ll have the chance to meet with new teachers during our Induction sessions. This will be a great opportunity for me to introduce myself, my role, and share with new teachers how I can support their work and their students.
Next School Year
I will spend more time in classrooms. I will spend less time in the office.
I will spend more time teaching in team meetings. I will spend less time emailing ideas to teachers.
Our grades 1 and 6 are shifting to a hybrid instructional model next year. This will be a huge adjustment for many teachers, particularly in grade 1. These classes will be working in a 1:1 environment with either tablet devices or laptops. I will definitely be spending a lot of time in these two grade levels helping teachers and students learn how to fluidly use the devices to support learning throughout the day, whether in direct instruction rotations or during independent learning time. While students are in their collaborative rotations, I want to help teachers design opportunities that promote true collaboration and not simply partner-work. And I want to promote the importance of giving students the chance to create and build and produce and present and reflect on the ideas they’re learning.
We’re using Edublogs K-12 this year for teacher and student blogging. I really, truly want teachers to embrace blogging as an integral platform for sharing learning and reflecting in their classrooms. I have high hopes we can make this happen with time and demonstration and application of the use of blogs. Please share with me your best ideas for blogging in the classroom, and for teachers to use for home-school communication!
There was talk of establishing an elementary makerspace at one of our schools this year. I’d love to see that come to fruition! Would love to hear any ideas/resources/must-dos you have to share!
My Professional Learning
I’m going to need to learn more about the tablets being used in Grade 1. I’m still not sure what device they’ll be using, but I know it won’t be iPads, so I have some quick learning to do so I can adequately support teachers and students.
I’d like to continue working through the Google for Education training programs and perhaps if time allows, try for a future GTA.
I have lots of prep and learning to do for upcoming conferences and sessions I’ll be facilitating. The focus of many of those sessions is on professional development.
Who do I want to be next year? What personal commitments will I make?
For those in my school, I want to known as an available, knowledgeable, fun, and trusted resource. At home, I want to be present. Unless absolutely necessary, I won’t pull out the laptop during the evening hours for work-related tasks. It’s important to me to dedicate time at home to my son and family. I want to hone skills and form habits that will help me be a better wife and mother. I want to find time for me, working out, long walks, whatever I need to be a happy and healthy me. And I want to stay crafty and keep working on family memory keeping, Project Life albums, and second birthday party planning
I have high hopes that this coming school year will be a rewarding one. Wishing you the same!