When teachers get their devices in the spring and start moving about the school with them it is a perfect time to start the excitement about rollout with the students by messaging that they will receive a device when they come back to school in the fall. It is also important to incorporate information about students receiving devices in summer messaging to parents and during back to school nights. Through this promotion, you can encourage parents to fill out the user agreements in advance of rollout day. At Argyle Middle School in Silver Spring, Maryland, all staff—from administrators to counselors to the front office staff—learned how to provide a mobile device orientation for families so the lack of signature on the user agreements was not a barrier.
The visibility of staff devices ahead of rollout also helps build excitement around the 1:1 initiative. As principal at Argyle, James Allrich modeled iPad use daily. He had it with him at all times and used it in front of students and staff. He even was able to review grades with students in his school right from his iPad.
Another strategy to build excitement is getting devices to the student technology team early. The team can help you see the student challenges, and other students seeing the tech team members using the devices and troubleshooting with teachers can help set the stage for when the rest of the student body would receive their devices.
On the day of device rollout, the entire school should have one goal: to get the devices to students. Argyle Middle School had a special schedule for the day which included an opening lesson, a morning video about rollout, and student digital citizenship lessons. They also had pop-up activities led by the student tech team, like coding with mini Spheros and learning how to use apps to draw. If students had their agreement papers signed they were able to receive the devices right away; if the agreement papers weren’t signed, parents were invited to a digital citizenship lesson and then received assistance in filling out the paperwork.
In order to drum up excitement in the community, consider inviting local officials, the superintendent of schools, and the Board of Education, as well as local media. Having “important” people in the school builds a sense of pride in the students.
Depending on the circumstances of the beginning of the school year, you may choose to plan a contactless rollout. Many schools began their 1:1 programs during the COVID-19 pandemic and were able to get devices to students with minimal contact. You only get one chance to deploy devices each year, so it’s still important to set the culture around how the devices will be used, the expectation for use and handling of the devices, how the devices will be used instructionally, etc., even if rollout is happening with less pomp and circumstance. A contactless rollout event should still include multiple stations for families and students, including stations on how to care for your device and how to access key learning resources on devices.
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