Friday, May 1, 2015

Making the Impossible Possible

I LOVE this time of year - Putting the ribbon around all the learning that has gone on during this school year and making optimistic plans for how we can be even better next year. My favorite symbol in the whole world is the flying pig. The flying pig symbolizes to me that what at first may seem impossible can often be made possible if we're just willing to figure it out and do the work. It's how I approach education and how I approach life.

It won't shock anyone for me to say that much of my district is still on the fence when it comes to the best use of technology for learning. We've purchased lots of devices, but many have still not bought into the enormous potential technology has to improve education. We make a lot of progress when we regularly offer EdTech Professional Development, but then we slip and slide when we don't. Unfortunately, we still have a tendency to think instructional strategies and Iowa Core are separate from educational technology, and we divvy up our days of professional development and throw up our hands with, "There just isn't enough time." We love the use of social media to keep our stakeholders informed, but we neglect the huge potential social media can bring to our learning.

Because of this reality, I'm always looking for ways to persuade administrators and teachers that technology use by students is absolutely valuable to the instructional process. I'm always looking for opportunities to model effective use of technology for learning - beyond drill and practice games and reading online and simple Google searches to find information. I'm always looking for ways to persuade our people that the world has changed and to think that we can continue to educate the way we were educated is unfair to our students. It does not equip them with the skills they need to live in the online world that they spend time in already, nor does it prepare them for the global society and world of work that they will be a part of not in some nebulous time in the future but right now.

Most of all, I'm always looking for ways to persuade our administrators and teachers that using technology supports the instructional strategies we are already using. It's not something separate or something more. AIW and rigor and Iowa Core and reading, writing, and math instructional strategies can remain on the schedule for our teachers, because they can and should be seamlessly meshed with student technology use for learning. Curriculum, instruction, and technology are inextricably intertwined. They are not separate entities. They hold hands and they support student learning together.

I know these words are hardly new or unique. In fact, I've said and written them myself many times. However, we're getting ready to buy and deploy almost 400 new devices. We're going to spend all summer updating network things that need updated and devices that need to be reconfigured, and we're going to equip our renovated high school with state of the art technology. While we're doing all of that, my mind can't help but race to figure out how to make the best use of all that technology. Fortunately, a very long conversation with my superintendent this morning leaves me with massive hope that we are ready to take some big steps to be where we need to be when it comes to using tech in the best ways possible for learning. I have some great ideas for making the impossible possible.

Stay tuned!

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