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Confessions of a Digital Leader: Learning New Technology, A Necessary Evil

Daily, many of us in these roles expect teachers to be open to learning new technology…new ways of doing things. I’ll admit that it’s sometimes frustrating when learning something new becomes so much of a hassle that it’s completely unreal.  At the same token, I also have to admit that our version of “this is important” differs greatly from that of the users that we serve and knowing that part is half the battle.  I’ve been reminded since June by my staff that I “speak tech” a mile a minute and that often the tools seem to overlap, creating a …

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Opening Dialogues for CSed, MakerSpaces and Innovative Experiences

Six days per week our Lufkin HS Robotics team meets to design, build, program and learn for their FIRST robotics competition in April. Many of these kids, first time members of the team, are learning in ways that they probably could not have envisioned without this experience. Over the last few weeks, I’ve met countless alumni robotics team members who have taken their experiences into engineering and computer science majors in college, most of which would not have been possible without competing in FIRST robotics, as my community…like many, did not offer computer science as a choice and when we …

Confessions of a Digital Leader: Rabbit Ears, Tin Foil and Bandaids of Tech

Remember back in the day when television sets had rabbit ear antennas? Chances are that if you do, you also remember the set of pliers that replaced the channel knob, the wire coat hangers that replaced the antennas and the extensive amounts of tin foil that covered the wire hangers that extended into the sky just so that the television could get a sub-par picture.  This is how we grew up. When something broke, and you did not have access to a repairman, you found a way to fix it. We learned how to deal with problems and make it work because …

Halftime Review: Building School 2.0

I remember my personal “teaching mindshift” as if it were yesterday. I was walking through the halls of New Tech High in Coppell, a project based learning school. I was shocked at seeing kids roaming about, working in small groups, discussing, debating, working in classrooms with cell phones out, laughing, making videos to share with the world…ON YOUTUBE!! In my school, that didn’t happen…at all. All of it seemed to be against policy. All of it. I left that school that day as a different teacher and never looked back. I wanted IN…because what grabbed my entire being wasn’t even …

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Reflecting from the Inside: On Being A Black Woman in School Edtech

One of my favorite moments from my pre-service days was when my college professor (a white woman) pulled me aside to tell me what my life would be like as a black teacher. She said… “Rafranz…I need you to know that you are black. You need to know that this means that you don’t get to be average. You don’t get a mediocre day. You have to be great…always. You need to know this. You need to know that things are different for you.” This was a lesson that my mother had already ingrained within my spirit but hearing it from Dr. Huse, …

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The Week After CSEdWeek and HourofCode

It’s Monday. The frenzy of “everyone will code” is technically over and most people are back to business as usual. Last week was incredible as I was fortunate enough to participate in the first ever White House Computer Science Tech Jam where educators were paired with technology developers to ideate ways and/or products to help teachers teach Computer Science. At the same time, my district was going full throttle in making sure that every student had an opportunity to code for one hour. I have to admit that it was quite amazing to watch from afar while our students and …

Confessions of a Digital Leader: The Wins Are Everything

A few weeks ago, 50 teachers joined an internal google plus community meant to connect them to each other as we all began to take on the digital learning challenge. In a few weeks, these teachers began to create, share and freely ideate their goals for professional growth…all within the safety of our community. Last week, their challenge was to create a blog and share it, a completely new venture for most. It was uplifting reading their profound thoughts, taking a glimpse inside their classroom trips and reading reflections of risk taking with the greatest rewards…students owning their learning. Amidst the …

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Reality Checks of Digital Learning

Last week, one of our teachers excitedly shared that she found some old laptops in the building and was determined to clean them up in order to give her students immediate 1:1 access. I watched as the tweets went by and felt her excitement as she shared what this access meant for her students. The world was literally at their fingertips. A few days later, I received an email from her that while her kids were enjoying this new way of learning, they could barely stay online, but were being such great sports trying. It was such a profound moment …

What’s Race Got To Do With It?

Following the Spring Valley High assault news yesterday, I searched for student perspective from students at that school. As expected, there was a ton of discussion about the young lady being violently wrestled and tossed across the room. What I didn’t expect to see was their passionate pleas that people quit making this incident about race. They were completely adamant that the officer responsible wasn’t racist but an equal opportunity violent man who once did the same thing to a pregnant girl who happened to be white. According to them, he tossed all kids with reckless abandon. They said, and I …

Confessions of a Digital Leader: The Myths and Truths of Future Readiness

When I interviewed for my current role, I had to create a presentation and present on what being Future Ready meant to Lufkin. It was a topic that I comfortably understood but yet and still…the most difficult task that I’ve ever encountered because even back then, I understood that being Future Ready wasn’t necessarily a finite state of being. It was and still is a culture of ideas, learning and growth created to support the global preparedness of our students and teachers. The pledge itself is created on the foundation of the 7 tenets in the slideshow below. To be clear, …