We’ve learned so much from visiting and connecting virtually with educators around our area and beyond over the last year of this work to transform teaching and learning. We knew when we started this journey as our county’s initial pyramid doing this work that we would be opening our doors to share our journey and story as well.
We’ve welcomed lots of people in already but this week we had our first (of what I assume will be many) larger visit. We welcomed in a group of principals from our district. We knew we wanted to provide freedom for our visitors to visit classrooms and we were adamant that we wanted lots of time to answer questions that came up.
We created maps (color coded to show what subjects were taught where) and a one page handout with some of the highlights of the work we’ve done, lessons we’ve learned and what we think was most important so far.
After gathering in a comfortable space, we shared some of our work so far, answered questions and talked for a bit. A few of the highlights we shared:
- This is hard work. It’s exhausting on a leadership, a support and pd perspective. It’s HARD for teachers to change. It’s tiring to distribute 2700 laptops to students. BUT IT’S WORTH IT.
- Team work. That saying that team work makes the dream work? It’s true. In fact, we presented as a team – Tech Support Specialists, School Based Tech Specialist (that’s me: Tech Coach), and Principal and made sure to mention that this work couldn’t happen without a strong team.
- This work didn’t start when our devices arrive. This started 2-3 years ago with a shift in culture, laying the ground work with PD, building relationships and a focus on critical thinking. These are all things we can do NOW. Don’t wait till you have devices…because it’s too late then. It’s way too hard to do all that at once.
- Speaking of devices – stop saying 1:1. This work isn’t about a tool. It’s about the transformation in teaching and learning. The important changes we’re making are about creating student centered spaces and experiences. The devices is just a tool they might use. We rarely talk about 1:1 anymore.
- Give your staff permission to start small. Have high expectations for them..but Just One change is expected. Do something small and do it well.
- Honesty and Transparency matter. There will be things we struggle with. Share them! Be honest and communicate – with staff, students and community. We share regular updates with the community and staff (updates, challenges, FAQ answers).
- Be ready to provide the resources that staff need – this is a hard change you’re asking them to make, it’s important to support them.
Then we visited classrooms all around the building (well, mostly. We didn’t make it to the academy, performing arts or the mod). Some went on their own, others went in a group. Many asked our teachers and our students questions along the way. We noticed changes in spaces, in student and teacher work, in energy and engagement. We even noticed how the learning doesn’t stop when a teacher is absent, thanks to Google Classroom! We saw routines and quick start to class because students knew what was expected.
Finally, we came back together in our original space and answered any other questions that came up. This was a wonderful day. I’m so thankful we get to share the work we’re doing (and hopefully spread it to more high schools!)
Do you open your doors to groups of visitors? What is your structure? If you go out to other schools, what do you wish you saw or heard? I would love your feedback so I can improve our structure! Thanks!