After a little decompressing it’s time to reflect on the school year. There sure have been some low points yet despite those personal and professional heart aches I feel upbeat and positive about some of the things we got right.
Acceptable Use Agreement: students were involved in the process of writing our Acceptable Use Agreement in 2010-11. At the start of 11-12 all students participated in a 1:1 Orientation program based around the six points of the Acceptable Use Agreement. We could’ve done a better at job at triangulating teachers, students, and the AUA (I know, that sounds a bit weird.) While teachers were given an overview of the AUA roll-out and the orientation students received, the fact that it was outside the classroom rather than integrated made it less potent. Doing is more powerful than just hearing about something. (See below for how we’re doing it differently next year.)
Student voice: we gathered feedback from student focus groups throughout the year on their experience of one-to-one and shared that back to faculty leaders and administrators. While not a lot of direct outcomes sprang from this it did validate some of our hunches and opened conversation about teaching style, engagement, and competencies & dispositions we want to build in our students.
Support from Library Media Specialists: Together we launched a campaign on Creating a Culture of Citation, starting with engaging faculty about how we were preparing students for dealing with the variety of content they are using more frequently. I loved working with the Library team and want to continue to champion their skills and expertise. I hope we’ll continue to find new ways for them to engage with students in their learning. Plans are afoot to continue the work by unpacking plagiarism with a keen group of teachers now leading the charge.
Up-Skilling: Ms Java (linchpin of the HS IT Support team) is worth her wait in gold. She’s been a brilliant collaborator in our weekly ‘express’ tech PD sessions for faculty from any division. It’s surprising what you can do in 20 minutes. Two particular pieces that I thought worked were 1. the low threshold to commit for that length of time and 2. enabling people to mix across divisions.
Teachers took risks: We worked hard to emphasize upgrading and transforming curriculum and instruction rather than focusing on tools and equipment. This included starting dialogue about what transformation is and how it is different from substituting existing practices for digital versions. (SAMR)
What will be some focus areas for next year?
1:1 Think Big About Learning: Next year we are trying a different approach with the start of year orientation. We will flip some of the introduction and logistical stuff for students to do prior to attending a face-to-face session. We want to be more collaborative and interactive by getting groups thinking about scenarios and connecting them back to the AUA to share – & we want teachers in this process.
Distraction and engagement: Two sides of a see-saw perhaps. Some teachers have felt students are distracted by having laptops, others feel it’s a class management, instructional style or tolerance issue. However you want to describe it, to address this students and teachers need to invest in the topic together to forge forward. We have some PD planned to continue unpacking this with faculty, and I’m planning sessions with the 9 & 10 grade levels on the “Multitasking Myth” to offer strategies and perspective on managing their work flow.
FAIL (First Attempt In Learning): We need to create space for teachers to try stuff without fear. Providing permission and incentive to take risks hasn’t been perfect. Administrators, who are in the midst of coming to terms with what good practice looks like in a 1:1 environment (just like teachers), have at times inadvertently jumped at things rather than recognizing that the process of innovation involves iteration, sometimes failure and is usually a little messy.
Three Themes: Finally a few themes I hope might provide focus as we continue to upgrade and transform teaching and learning; let’s make more of mobiles (most students have one), let’s connect beyond the classroom (there’s so much out there to engage and enrich learning!) and let’s pursue authentic assessment (making it real IS engaging.)
I’ve been fortunate to work with some fabulous teachers and admin who have been brave, honest, encouraging, supportive and inviting. I have learnt a lot from them this year.