Wednesday, September 05, 2007

It's the little things...

I've spent many hours over the past few days doing what we do every year at this time - checking out the little things that may have been missed during summer cleaning/reconnecting/imaging or helping teachers with little things like making sure their projectors are connected properly to computers and in working order. We also strive to get those last minute things out to teachers as quickly as possible, in particular the passwords that will be used by students to gain access to computers. But the most important part of all is the interaction with the teachers and the PR that results from responding to their technology needs as quickly as possible. Those initial connections are priceless.

In 8 short years, we've gone from staff who didn't know how to turn on the computers to staff who can't possibly do without their projectors on the first day of school. This comes, in some part, as a result of training that we've done over the years in a variety of ways - everything from gathering large groups together to meeting with single teachers at their convenience to answer the questions that are burning on their minds at that point in time. One of the most significant things that helped us is the interactions among our teachers - the kind that they've initiated all on their own.

We began our technology infusion with a Model Classroom approach where 2 teachers in every building became the first to get multiple computers in their classrooms. Their role was to share what they were doing within their buildings. From there, we gradually added more computers in two more phases until every classroom was equipped. It wasn't just placing a projector in a classroom or providing them with particular pieces of software that made a teacher want to use it. It was another teacher who had found that really great website or who already had had a projector before them who sat in the staff room talking about using that projector to show the students something on the Internet or demonstrating how they would use a particular piece of software. [I still fondly recall the wonders of trying to arrange 22 first graders around a 12 inch computer screen so that everybody could see how to do something on a computer - a far cry from the projectors we have now!]

From our small beginnings 8 years ago have grown some really great and inspiring instructional uses of technology from many of our teachers with new ideas being developed, implemented or considered all the time. We still struggle with all the issues that other schools and districts struggle with [time and training in particular] and I can spend hours talking about all the things that still frustrate me. But the fact that so many teachers spent so much time making sure that the technology in their rooms was set for the first day has been really inspiring to me. I look forward to continuing to provide any support that I can to our teachers and hope that I can provide the leadership that will help them to achieve their objectives for improving student achievement in our district.

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