Sunday, December 7, 2014

Learning Through Leadership Panel

Today, I was fortunate to be able to speak at an Apple Leadership event in Indianapolis. Speaking before me were three incredibly knowledgeable, well spoken superintendents in the area. Dr. Marc Slaton, Mr. Jason Callahan, and Mr. Wayne Barker discussed their districts decisions, policies, and experiences in going 1:1 with grades K-12. With a blend of iPad, MacBook, and Apple TV deployment experiences, I was thrilled to hear the discussion focus mostly on students, teachers, and teaching practices. It was great! The conversations were uplifting and motivational. Real ideas about risk and payoff were shared. Honesty and professionalism led the discussion.

Here are just a few of the key points that I was most impressed, excited to hear.

  • Declining enrollment was halted with 1:1 deployment.
  • Discussion of 1:1 was early, often, and always the goal.
  • Some implementation was teacher driven. Some was teacher resistant. Teachers now recognize importance in the movement now.
  • Technology use following research into higher ed, evaluating opportunities that could be offered, and reflection on student/family needs.
  • The understanding, partnership, and reverence for family highlighted over and over.
  • Recognition that we have a responsibility to create competitive digital citizens.
  • Disengaged students are not acceptable. Need to get them to, "see beyond the walls of our county."
  • Marc Slaton shared how his district started with a test pilot of 90 freshman. Implementation has to be well planned and in manageable stages. He also shared that many students, "wanted their books and worksheets back" at first. Why? The work was more difficult. Students were being challenged to think deeper and create more meaningful work. Awesome!
  • Lack of wifi...not as big of a concern as anticipated. Students and families found a way! And, in the event that families needed support, the schools opened early, stayed open longer, and worked to educate. Tools such as eBackPack were cited as being possible solutions to loading content during school time with utilization at home (offline).
  • Top two areas to invest time, money, conversation, and care---> WiFi and infrastructure and teacher professional development! AGREED!
  • Many of the schools utilized the Apple PD and really focused on in-house training and facilitators. Teachers teaching teachers had the most payoff. From early start days to optional professional development days, to allowing teachers to build/curate content together in teams were the most effective methods. Teachers became very driven to support and learn from each other when it was not a pre-scripted training. Curriculum exploration was done in teams with constant sharing.
  • Deployment success tips- 
    • IT folks on board, ready to go, and Apple Tech certified
    • Organized
    • Cases on devices- not an after thought...make it a priority
    • Involving community and parents with rotating roll out nights for the devices. Start with Keynote welcome, move into IT discussion and Q/A session, rotate through stations to pick up and set up devices. Make it fun! Share what is going on in the district!
    • Insurance- in-house system set up

My discussion was geared towards what technology can look like in the classroom. From projects to simple iPad uses, I shared how students are learning, growing, and being challenged with these tools in our toolkit. :)

Needless to say, I left this gathering entirely impressed by the leadership of these three gentlemen and the work that their teachers, students, and staff are doing. They truly have the pulse of their district, have compassion and understanding for their families, and are innovative in moving forward with technology to move education forward.

I am now in the Indianapolis airport with visions of 1:1 in my district dancing in my head...