Confessions of a Digital Leader: My Lifeline is the Classroom

Yesterday, I spent my morning at our high school and at one elementary school. As eye-opening as those experiences were, especially concerning much needed digital learning upgrades, it was exactly what I needed. As a matter of fact, I was in such a great mood the rest of the day that I could not even explain why…other than being high on life and the responsibility of serving kids. I’m pretty sure that I’ll be on a couple of campuses at some point today too.

When you’re the person in the district responsible for how we use technology, everyone wants you to see the great things that they do with technology. There’s excitement for the teachers who are using their smartboards. You get escorted into the campus technology all-star’s classroom. You see the carts and the lab that teachers can use. You may even see the PE teacher utilizing projected video with kids in the gym to exercise on a super hot sunny day. If you’re really lucky, you walk into a planning session of teachers and listen as they reluctantly explain why they can’t access the tools that they may need.

I take that back…If you are really lucky, you find inspiration and perspective in the faces of kids who were excited as you mentioned minecraft, the music room full of instruments for students to create sound and the substitute teacher flagging you down to see her overhead projector with transparencies.

In one word, you are reminded about the need to be transparent.

I spent the rest of my day thinking of ways to shift mindset of how we as a district will utilize what we have. A Smartboard displaying a website, power point or even the worksheet under the elmo isn’t transformative…at all. I’m also not going to take the stance of yanking them from the room. That’s insane. What I can do is show teachers how to use them as collaborative spaces for kids…by kids.

I can show teachers how to design for learning with collaborative centers, utilizing both digital and analog tools. We can build a culture of creativity in lieu of consumption. Kids playing games on classroom computers as earned “technology time” isn’t ideal when we want technology to be just as accessible and normal as a pencil and paper.

Surely, we wouldn’t make pencil and paper an earned reward…would we?

It’s easy to sit behind a desk in an office or in countless meetings talking about what we can purchase and even implement. However, you have no idea how to truly bring change without immersing yourself in your spaces of learning.

And listening…not to the words being spoken but to what is not being said.

And seeing what is not seen.

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