What are we REALLY trying to change here?

What are we REALLY trying to change-

We are in the midst of planning for a 1:1 initiative.  This really large school district (as the famous Tim Stahmer at AssortedStuff.com says, the overly large school district) has set this as a goal in the next few years and my pyramid has been selected as the first of many to work out the kinks and pilot this plan.  We are working on what this will look like for students, for teachers, what it means for classroom instruction, working to figure out what students will be doing and what teachers will be doing in this “new normal.”  Conversations have been happening all around and so many of them show the willingness to consider that the way we have done it might not always be the best way to do it.

Last week a teacher said to me “I’m not going to change something I’m doing just so kids can use technology.”

I think this represents our biggest hurdle and misconception about this transition.  The idea that we are making changes to instruction to include technology rather than changing instruction to help students learn.

The big idea here is that this isn’t about the device.  We keep saying that but it doesn’t seem to be sinking in.  There are so many questions about the device logistics:  what type, how will we charge, what software do we use, how will they store it, etc.    This device is a tool for learning in this new way.  Just like a textbook or pencil or notebook might be chosen as the best tool.

I need to have more conversations about how we teach and WHY.  I started with a few teachers looking all the way back to the standards that students need to learn.  Revamping from that point on provides us with an opportunity to do things differently from the start rather than try to change our existing structure to include something extra.

I was having a conversation with my colleague, Leslie Borkenhagen about this project.  She offers this:

“I agree – this isn’t about a device or kids using tech for tech sake. It’s about transforming our instructional practice and classroom environments so that students are more empowered to be partners and advocates for their own learning. Digital tools can help make this transition more efficient, more seamless. It allows for the use of authentic tools and practices that will prepare them for how they’ll be working “in the real world”. Allows for greater student choice, voice, collaboration, access beyond the school day…authentic audience…and allows that “real world” experience to begin NOW.”
 I think we need to do a better job as school leadership explaining our vision and reason for why we are making these changes.  What ways have you seen schools lay this vision out clearly for staff?  What advice would you share?

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