Understanding the Business, Politics and Art of School Edtech Leadership

I am convinced that people who work “in edtech” but outside of schools have zero clue as to how schools run. It becomes even more apparent as my phone rings at the oddest, yet calculated times…beginning of the day, around “lunch”…end of the day. My caller ID almost always bears the name of some edtech company or rep and I cringe each and every time. To keep it real, I also choose not to answer because the “cold call” is such a blatant disrespect of not only my time but all of us that work in schools. Do you seriously think that …

Hacking Thought

Tomorrow is the final day of our hackathon and even as I sit here basking in the memories of seeing kids laugh through struggle while learning, I can’t help thinking how this entire event started from a single thought… Why not our kids? I feel like I’ve learned more in a few days than I have in my entire existence in education. Kids have a way of doing that to you. Today, during interviews, I heard kids speak about who they wanted to be in the world and how they felt that technology could support that.  Story after story was …

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Today We Started our Student Hackathon

I’ve never hosted or planned a hackathon before this one. At the same token, our kids have never done one. Yet and still, we jumped into this space of uncertainty with minimal expectations beyond inspiring our students to design and build what they felt could have impact on their learning community. The ideas that they had were a mixture of inspiring, empathetic and often ambitious in scope. There was frustration and joy, smiles and boredom…a few water bottle throwing challenges and learning…especially since “kids are gonna kid” and imperfection is a part of the process. Our teams consisted of 3-4 …

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Makercamps, Hackathons and Equity: From Vision to Reality with Support from Microsoft

About six months ago, my superintendent presented me with the challenge of a lifetime. She asked that I dig into my creative hat and provide some form of innovative summer learning experience for our students. I may have researched and polled students for months before even expressing the first iteration of ideas…which have gone through a cycle of “rethinking” about ten times. Then, I met the Pantherbots, our Lufkin High School First Robotics team and everything changed. I watched them work alongside mentors for months, building and programming a robot from basically a box of scraps. I watched them create parts …

Thoughts On Listening, Voice and Empowerment

When I started working in Lufkin, one of the first things that I did, before any decision was made, was getting to campuses to listen and talk to teachers. I remember feeling so nervous but I also knew, from being a voiceless classroom teacher, that this step was an important one. It was during a meeting with our high school teachers that I learned about some of our digital infrastructure issues. They could tell you exactly where in the building one could connect and the places where connectivity was weakest. These statements are what drove more in depth research and …

Learning About Digital Equity from Students

Throughout the year, I have had opportunities to work directly in classrooms on digital learning initiatives. Each of those moments seemed to inform a new reality that we needed to face from 5th graders not having the foundational skills needed to simply use a computer beyond online testing tools or kids not having access to any form of learning in a connected world. Then…there was the realization that our wifi access needed a major boost on every campus because as a district that fully supports BYOD, making sure that every person could connect at least one device should be a priority. …

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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: 6 Things I Learned While Implementing Digital Learning

1. Google Apps Aren’t Really “Free”  Through the course of our implementation and relaunch of Google Apps, I’ve definitely learned that the word “free” is such a myth. When we decided to move forward with creating our student Google Apps accounts, I started to hear all about monitoring of teacher and student accounts. I learned that kids will type terrible things and change ink to white in order to make pages appear blank. Adults and kids may sometimes even share personal identifiable data via Google Drive Kids and/or adults may write/post threatening content. Pretty much every horrible, terrible, very bad …

The Privilege of Learning, Rethinking Traditional Schooling

In 2009, I was fortunate enough to visit New Tech High School in Coppell, TX…a “New Tech Network” school centered on project based learning and authentic student-led experiences. Prior to that visit, everything that I understood about education involved teachers as the holders of information with students waiting to grasp onto every word. Within a few moments of walking through the halls of New Tech, I knew that I was experiencing something life-changing. It was as if the doors of learning were unlocked ever so slightly and I haven’t been the same educator since. It was on that day that I …

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Alt Cert, TFA or EDU Trained: Training and Development is A Necessity

 I’ve heard tons of chatter in the last few weeks about alternative certification edu programs. Most of these talks stem from Teach for America, its 5 week training program and its corporate backers. Add to that the point about TFA teachers being hired to take the jobs of experienced teachers as charter schools come in to close public schools. I will admit that I do not have experience with that aspect of TFA but I have plenty of experience in working with alt cert teachers from multiple programs. Let’s just say that at least TFA gets 5 weeks. About that …