Ready to Commit
In this video, you will see educators in the Vista Unified School District talk about their shared vision for why this transformation is necessary. This video was filmed before students received their devices!
Are You Ready To Commit?
An effective plan requires buy-in and participation from everyone. Some of the biggest lessons learned from our schools include the importance of a storytelling strategy and strong student leadership teams. View all challenges and lessons learned below!
Where you are going?
Develop a shared language that is focused on learning
We’ve learned that if you call this a “technology initiative”, you’ll be forced to defend technology. The conversation should always start with learning! Teachers have one goal: to increase student learning opportunities, and conversations about technology should always be in service of that goal.
- Avoid education technology jargon. Avoid education jargon. Avoid jargon. Use the words that your parents, students, and community understand! Instead of “PLN”, consider saying “connecting with others”– or instead of “flipped classrooms”, consider saying “using your resources”.
- Ask teachers to create a shift table of the actions they do on a daily basis. What did connecting to resources look like before this tool? How could it look now?
- Ask teachers how they learn in their personal lives, and ask them to identify how they use technology to learn. Ask them how they could use similar strategies with their students.
Watch the videos in this article: “Teachers Offer Perspectives on Preparing for Digital Learning” featuring Vista Unified School District.
Read this blog post: “Words Matter: Let’s Talk About Learning, not Technology” on the Digital Promise website.
Make the end goal clear
We’ve learned that if there are 120 people in a room, they may have 120 different ideas of what their goal is. Taking the time to reflect on the end goal (Is it test scores? Is it confident learners? Is it student leaders?) will ensure that everyone is focused in the same direction before you start moving!
Ask the under-the-surface questions: Why are you in education? Who was the best teacher you ever had? What impact do you hope to have? What skills do you want to build in students?
Be critical and reflect on your current practice. As a team, what are you doing that is moving you towards that destination, and what you are doing that pulls the focus away from that destination?
Watch this video: “One Year Later: What Technology Does to a Classroom”
Watch this video: “What Does it Mean to be a Future Ready School? Ask the Students!”
Watch this video: “Inspiration Exchange”
Help stakeholders pre-visualize the journey ahead
Sharing the full journey is overwhelming, but it is necessary to calm fears and concerns. Taking the time to make sure all stakeholders know the journey that is ahead of them (Ready to Manage, Digital Literacy, Powerful Use, etc.) gives them a base of knowledge for what their role is and who they can rely on when faced with particular challenges.
- Don’t assume that every stakeholder knows what all the steps are or understands what their roles are. For example, taking the time to explain what IT has done to be ready to manage the devices lets teachers know what their role (and the learning coach’s role) is and isn’t.
- When possible, mix up the groups: go through the journey with parents, administrators, and teachers sitting at the same table. Everyone will have a different opinion and perspective based on their experiences.
- Share the journey if you can! One advantage of this project is that so many schools can share their challenges and solutions. If possible, bring other schools in your district along with you!
Share this guidebook with your school!
Share our Teacher Starter Kit with your educators!
Who is going with you?
Create a student leadership team
A student leadership team is vital for a successful 1:1. Students are our technology experts and want to share their knowledge with teachers and peers. By having students take the lead, they build valuable life skills and are empowered because they become the experts in the room! Student leadership teams can help with a variety of tasks to alleviate the work from your IT staff and technology coach. Some examples are: password resets, troubleshooting, how to use apps and other web tools, etc.
- Figure out how you can schedule this: set aside time after school, create an elective class, or use advisory time.
- Ask students to predict what challenges will occur over the year, and then ask them to start brainstorming solutions!
- Give students the resources they will need to solve these problems; give them their devices early!
Watch this video: “Don’t Put Technology in Schools Without Doing This First”, featuring Evanston-Skokie District 65 and Bristol Township School District.
Watch this video: “Student Technology Teams: Meet the Tiger Techs”, featuring Armstrong Middle School.
Read our blog post: “Remember that Students are your Best Partners”
Read: “Student-run genius bar: The facilitator’s guide” from ISTE.
Create a teacher leadership team
Teachers are going to be on a variety of levels when starting to use technology in their classrooms. It’s important to find a team of lead teachers that are ready, excited, and eager to help others. Identify these teachers as soon as possible to help spread the word and support the rest of the staff. The momentum will build over time.
- Set up online communities and encourage teachers to connect through social networks so that ALL of your teachers can be leaders.
- Get buy-in early; ask all of your teachers to think about what their end goal is, and how these devices can help them get there.
- Find teacher representatives who are on different parts of the spectrum; you’ll want teachers who are comfortable navigating technology and teachers who have strong pedagogical skills.
Watch this video: “Need Some New Ideas in the Classroom? Connect to your Community?”
Watch this video: “What Does it Really Mean for Teachers to be Connected?”
Read this article: “How to develop teacher leadership in your school”
Read this article: “The Many Faces of Leadership” on the ASCD website.
How will you get there?
Create a digital responsibility strategy
We’ve learned that taking the time to proactively think about digital responsibility will ultimately save you time from putting out fires in the long run. We’ve also learned that appropriate behavior needs to be taught and modeled. If you only focus on “what not to do”, you’ll never get the opportunity to focus on “what to do”.
- Talk about behavior in plain language. What does it mean to be safe and kind? What does it mean to be safe and kind in a digital world?
- Give students ownership in coming up with and teaching the strategy. Students will be more likely to agree to behavior guidelines when they’ve helped come up with them!
- Don’t assume that lessons will stick the first time. The conversations will need to happen before, during, and after students receive devices.
Check out the Digital Citizenship Scope and Sequence from Common Sense Media.
Create a professional learning strategy
A professional learning strategy is about more than scheduling a few workshops; it’s about treating teachers like learners as well. We’ve learned that promoting personalized learning in the classroom starts with modeling it for our teachers.
- Use the select-connect-reflect framework: How do we help teachers own the process of selecting, connecting, and reflecting on their own?
- Often, adults have a “disorienting dilemma” that prevents them from taking action. Helping an adult identify their fears, needs, and concerns goes a long way in sparking the self-driven learning process.
- Convincing people of the “why” is often more important than the “what”. If a person really wants to learn something, nothing will stop him/her.
Watch this video: “What do Technology Integration Coaches Really Do?”
Watch this video: “Top Tips for Technology Integration Coaches and Storytellers”
Create a parent and community engagement plan
Getting buy-in from parents and community members early is critical to your success. They are already networking and talking about this initiative; it’s important to identify leaders early on to steer the conversation towards opportunities instead of obstacles. Parents need a safe place to connect with other parents, voice their concerns, and share their lessons learned.
- Identify the locations (online or face-to-face) that parents currently interact with each other.
- Don’t be afraid to ask parents what their biggest concerns are. Set up an open forum where parent leaders can respond to other parents.
- Hold parent training nights that are facilitated by other parents or by students. Fear often follows a lack of understanding or knowledge.
- Ask parents to serve on a technology leadership team; invite their participation in issues like app procurement, behavior guidelines, etc.
- Do home visits with parents; have a conversation on their turf!
Check out the “Connecting Families Toolkit” from Common Sense Media.
Read: “Engaging Parents in Education: Lessons from Five Parental Information and Resource Centers” from the U.S. Department of Education.
Create a storytelling strategy
If you don’t tell your story, someone else will – and it might not be the story you want told! There are two reasons to create a storytelling strategy: to keep conversations focused on the mission, and to help inspire continuous improvement.
- Instead of focusing on “successes” and “failures”, focus on “victories”, “lessons learned”, and “needs and concerns”. This allows the conversation to move towards productive action.
- Involve your students! Create a media class and start a weekly broadcast that highlights school events.
- Take the time to build shared processes–and always map your shot list ahead of time so that everyone knows what role they will play.
- If you’re going to spend money, spend it on audio equipment first. You can get away with lower quality video, but you can’t cover up poor audio.
Watch this video: “Want to Strengthen Your School Community? Focus on the Stories!”
Watch this video: “Why Every Student Should be a Storyteller”
Create a strategy for S.T.E.M
S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) has grown in relevance as the world has become more globally connected. By finding ways to integrate S.T.E.M. topics into your everyday curriculum, you can ensure that students will be prepared for the job opportunities in tomorrow’s world!
- Encourage teachers to participate in free events like Hour of Code or the Verizon App Challenge. Many of the resources available to teachers require no prior knowledge or experience!
- Put teams of teachers from different subject areas together and challenge them to co-teach a STE(A)M lesson (the “A” is for Arts).
- Hold a yearly “STEM Fair” where students show off their favorite projects to the community.
Watch this video: “Making Coding Fun for Students”
Check out “STEM Planning Tools” from the National STEM Centre.
Check out “STEM School Design” from the Teaching Institute for Excellence in STEM (TIES).