Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Transforming the Classroom

It has been a few months since my last post. I certainly haven't forgot about the blog, just taking a little break while focusing on other things in my life. But I'm back and hopefully recharged about utilizing this as a vehicle to share, collaborate and communicate with others about educational technology happenings.

A buzz word that has been around education for the past 3-5 years is 'one-to-one'. School districts across the country are spending millions of dollars to provide students and teachers with district-owned mobile devices. These devices are typically laptops, tablets and now a growing trend towards iPads. My question to those districts is: what is your value add with those devices? Is it tied to assessment, attendance, behavior, 21st century skills, etc.? How has placing a device in the hand of every student (or students having access to these devices) transformed the learning process? That is the key question.

When we talk about transforming the classroom and learning process, it has to start with teachers. Too many times I read about school districts investing in these 1:1 initiatives and then discussing professional development for teachers AFTER the fact. School districts must be proactive in engaging, educating and preparing their teachers for what a 21st century classroom looks like, and more importantly how does that change their teaching style? When school districts begin to have those conversations FIRST and outline a vision, goals and a roadmap to accomplish, the transformation is much more powerful and immediate.

Teachers must be engaged from the very beginning for the change to be successful. This can not be a 'top down' initiative. Teachers must add value, be at the table and help steer the ship, if the district is reap the full rewards from the initiative. Districts can do this by inviting teachers to visioning days, allowing teachers to facilitate and guide the professional development, and utilize professional learning communities to foster conversations and strategies among team members.

The transformation process isn't going to happen overnight. But if a school district outlines their process effectively and stays the course, they are less likely to see resistance and more likely to see positive, successful results in a timely manner.


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1 comment:

Melanie said...

I am fortunate enough to work in a district that has offered the 1 to 1 laptop for each student, and couldn't agree with you more about the problem of not "teaching" the teacher before handing out the technology. We were given the computers, and then told that we would have professional development sometime later in the year. Unfortunately, for many teachers this meant that the computers would sit at the back of the room unused until then. Even then, after the PD, some were hesitant to use them because the training had been so fast and furious! I would have liked to have several days of training and time for hands on training to make sure that I understood what was being asked of me as a teacher. Slowly but surely, I am learning through other colleagues and by teaching myself, about the wonderful tools these computers can be.