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New School Year, New Beginning

August 28, 2008

I can’t believe it’s been so long since my last post.  Let’s just start there.  Over a month.  Lots has happened since I have last written, and as I write, the projects are still waiting for my attention. 

But the beauty of a blog like this is that I can stop for a minute and reflect, and help myself and my team prepare to focus on the tasks at hand as we move into what looks to be an incredibly busy and interesting year. 

Here in my district we have lots of technology integration across the spectrum.  Many many teachers are working hard to engage their learners in a variety of ways.  With a new set of principals, (we have new principals at every level) we have an opportunity to move the district even further into the 21st century.  These educational leaders come to us with new experiences and ideas as well as insight as to what other districts are doing.  So we have new people in key roles across the district, ready to support and model technology integration in smart and interesting ways.  I feel the stage is set, unlike it has been set before, for an increased shift and step across the line from the teaching to the learning. 

My Technology Cadre, the Professional Development Team that I have the priveledge of working with made up of two teachers from each school, is poised to move their practice more into the coaching role and step up to an even heavier leadership role in the area of mentoring for technology integration.  Some of our schools even have excellent incentive plans in place working with the PTOs to highlight teachers and teams that are working hard to engage students using 21st century tools.  That is the doing of our Cadre members and their out of the box thinking.

This year is shaping up to be one of innovation and motivation all across the district.  I personally have been in the classrooms of 11th graders teaching Audacity, and also in an 8th grade classroom teaching Digital Storytelling.  I have other mentoring and modeling scheduled all across the district.  We have the iPods in the Classroom project ongoing, and ready for a new round of 70 more teachers to participate.  We have semi-flat classroom projects in the works, and also a professional development brochure almost ready to be published to offer onging systematic professional development to teachers who want to earn hours and learn some excellent techniques along the way.

When I began this position in this district two years ago, I had a vision of how I saw things going.  Of course coming out of the classroom straight to a district level position, I had a major learning curve.  Along the way there are several things that I learned and continue to rely on as I move forward in this role as Technology and Instruction Specialist:

Absolutely keep Student Achievement and Student Learning as the baseline in any decision we make.
Relationship-Building is the most important first step in any new job, area, project, etc.
Listening to needs is key to understanding how to support teachers.
Finding early adoptors is a wonderful thing.  They are great to help with momentum, and evangelizing for the new learning and techniques.
Planning for implementation needs to be inclusive-meaning that we need to involve teachers, administrators and appropriate district personal in the decision-making.
Collaboration with others is key to facilitating out-of-the-box thinking.
Things take time–but never give up the creative thinking.
Teachers, Administrators, and District Office Personnel all want the same thing-What’s Best for Students–And every conversation needs to be based on that.

Finally, We cannot afford to teach the way we have been taught.  WE have to innovate our practice, to teach creativity, problem solving, and global critical thinking.  But we have to model this in professional development.

I am proud of the way my Cadre, and district has moved along in the pursuit of engagement and student achievement with 21st century skills.  As we move forward this year, modeling, implementing, evangelizing, and collaborating, we will move our students forward and better prepare them for their world.  I am so excited for this year, and all of our opportunities out there.  I am thankful for the risktakers that have embraced me and some innovations so far, and am hopeful that more will follow suit! 

Here we go!!!

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2 comments

  1. Nancy,
    I really enjoyed this post. I know it is exciting to have new administrators who embrace the technology we all love so much. What a great opportunity you have this year!

    And I really liked the reminder that we can’t continue to teach as we have been taught. This is critical for all teachers K-12 and higher ed. I am seeing this in my graduate school teaching. I am trying to use videos where appropriate and a blog for student interaction and writing; but my colleagues are using overheads or no technology at all.

    Thanks for this great post!

    Laurie Fowler
    Tuscaloosa, AL


  2. Hi Laurie,
    So glad to see you here. I did get your request for the 10 things, and have been thinking about that for a couple weeks. Here in this post is sort of my answer to the 10 things. I wanted to be sure that you knew that I had answered you regarding that. I loved that, and really have been thinking about it for some time.

    Thank you for being there and reading and listening and sharing.
    You can reach me at newiepratt@gmail.com.

    Thanks,
    Nancy



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