Blog Archive

Friday, September 5, 2014

Absolute BEST Time of Year to BE in Education!

Cross Post from EdTechTeam Blog , Michael Wacker

Though recently my direct role within schools and districts has changed, one thing remains the same: I am UNBELIEVABLY excited at this time of year. I ABSOLUTELY LOVE working and strategizing with teachers, coaches, admin, and leadership. This drives so much of my work, my passions for learning, and my support and belief in children and teachers. 

Photo by Ken Shelton

My excitement and inquiry of why I felt so excited this month came down to a simple question with a follow up: "Why is New Year’s Day a Holiday and What if New School’s Year was also a Holiday?" What makes the New Year so beautiful can be summed up by folks way smarter than, me. “This unique tick of the clock has always prompted us both to celebrate, and to step outside the day-to-day living we're always so busy with, and reflect; to look back, take stock, to assess how we did, and resolve to do better going forward.” So, I immediately thought to myself, YES! My friends, this is the time to slow down and absorb the awesomeness that is back to school week! The energy is truly palpable in our social echo chambers but also our externally internal community, which is to say, everyone is affected and influenced by “back to school.” You can feel it in your child’s school. You can feel it in your social media spaces. For me, I sense it in my bones and I feel the energy and excitement from mamawack (a former AP with a different set of experiences and of course my littlies at home!
Photo by Ken Shelton

 It’s important to note that I understand completely that my excitement does “look and feel” different than it did when I was teaching in a classroom. It is true, I don’t get the direct enjoyment of my favorite back to school teacher roles of: prepping my classroom, working with my team, hanging out at the “meet and greet” ice cream social meeting parents and siblings, building community connections (I miss that the most.)  But today, while my peers and amazing educators prepare and brainstorm next iterations of lessons, objectives, and assessments, I find myself super excited about the new year! I'm fresh off a micro math session with my kiddos and about to head to Redondo Beach Unified in California to help kick off their new teacher induction and development. Redondo has done amazing work the past year preparing their schools, children, and teachers for the next iteration of teaching and learning; or as we on the team like to think of it as, being “future ready." 

Jennie Magiera shows off Future Ready Schools support. 
Photo by Ken Shelton.

 We have spent time working with and cultivating “Courageous Leadership” from central office to the classroom, focusing on change. The work we’ve done with principals and leadership has been huge in gaining support. Primary to all of the professional learning has been about making sure we are “Empowering Teachers” cultivating and supporting (for far too many the first time) professional development and learning opportunities for the “rock stars” the teachers evangelizing and inspiring their peers through their innovation and passions.  There has been a focus on “Student Agency” by having professional development and learning opportunities for the children. Walking through the nouns of devices and platforms was a start, but beginning to brainstorm the possible was an awesome experience, especially asking children out loud, “What are you going to ask with access to all of the information ever?” It was a fun couple of days and I believe this type of student agency and support even external of the school is a must for every systemic change in education spaces, no matter the size.
It's taken me a long time; but I've learned that there is no need to rush. Take the time and do it right.
Photo by: Southernbreeze
 One key for the community and teachers, particularly here, was the timeline and ability to do a slow, transparent, and well-designed rollout. We also have spent time allowing and building the growth mindset spaces for the early adoption by teachers and leadership. This inspired and created incubators of sorts for innovation in the district micro-pockets of teachers and schools excited about what was possible, next.  They have built the bandwidth to support three devices per child. What is really exciting for me is the next iteration or 2.0 focus on their “new” teachers in a newly designed platform. Induction is rarely differentiated. Inspired through the spaces and learning opportunities and who knows, maybe we have even more pockets of excellence to learn and share from. And this gets to the heart of change. How do you support and sustain an iteration of an age-old model? In working with their leadership team the past year, one thing is certain, they value their teachers' input a lot. To create this change systemically: we must inspire, ignite, and bring folks on board with us. This looks different in varying locations, schools, and districts, but empowering your new teachers is a great place to start. And for what it’s worth a great place to stop as well. So, As I prepare to plan and design a fun day with my future friends in Redondo, I find myself authentically excited and pumped up about the upcoming school year.  I am excited! I am so lucky to work in education and be able to feed off of the energy and excitement from the teacher leaders in Redondo and everything they have been working towards, become energized by the buzz of walking the halls of my kids’ school at back to school night this week, and of course have a bunch of fun exploring and discovering some ways to empower and inspire the children of Redondo with the “new” teachers of Redondo tomorrow, Eileen Czesk, Stu Woodward, Shawn Lemmer, Amanda Steinacher-- and the vision from Annette Alpern and Derek Kinsey.

1. "Why We Celebrate New Year's Day: Survival | Psychology ..." 2013. 18 Aug. 2014

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

What is your role and what do you do for my child in your district?

This post is gonna hurt some feelings... I'm sorry friends, but we can do better...

It is time to bring back a little bit of old school, "WHAT THE WHAT" in regards to our funding and uses of these funds in school. This is why I shared this old post about choosing people or tools. It seems like a pretty simple option to offer or build upon. 

What would happen if we released the control aspect of our IT teams and instead invested into teaching them or asking them to build next iterations of the same tools we currently find ourselves beholden to. I keep reading about IT and curriculum leadership, leveraging the power of technology through google apps and chromebooks...


I am having a really hard time celebrating the "successes" of so many "stick in the mud" leadership teams and supports pontificating their latest adoption or initiative. Unless you have been asleep the past ten years;  what is happening now with access, inquiry, collaboration, publishing is years delayed and still a "diet" version of what we know we need and what we know will TRULY support inquiry, reflection, and iteration.

We have to be better and more accountable than that, right? There has been at a minimum; three years of fixed mindset or job rationalization as pilots, small tests, and other doomed to fail half assed attempts at change have dissipated. We are just now realizing the power of google apps and chromebooks?
Conveniently after WASTING, yes WASTING, millions of dollars on static solutions anchored to misdirected initiatives and philosophies. I wonder how many millions is spent across the country on CCSS alignment and resource collection when... ahem... EVERYONE ELSE IS DOING NEARLY THE EXACT SAME THING.

If my child was building and aligning the exact same thing that another student in her class was doing, I would be so frustrated. Yet, we have adults making top teacher salaries literally building the EXACT same thing as their colleague across town or across the country.

It's been interesting watching IT departments in Education institutions scramble to find their "role" in this cloud centric solution. This usually means spending a lot of money on tools that at one time, they would have or were hired to build or solve. Now, we have empowered the "experts" so that they can spend the tax or grant money, take it directly away from classrooms, and then listen with a smile as these same folks call themselves "managers" or SMEs to this private, money making, school and teacher fund ciphoning, disconnected for profit tool or idea. I am so over these school and district  contracts that suck money away from classrooms and rationalize multiple positions and/or roles, so that we can "analyze" or "make sense of the data" to "help kids"

Come on now.

We can and MUST be better than this friends. Follow your school or district's funding from source to output or as we love to call them now, "stakeholder. "I have a lot of friends in IT. I love them. All of them. But they are wasting their time. Time in meetings about product X designed to do Y. Or, in "brainstorming sessions" to spoon feed company X on why and how they need to better deliver Y.

I have always been a huge proponent of investing in people and not tools.

Look around your district this week. Look at the top heavy, nepotism safe, distracted vision and roles from two key departments;  curriculum and instruction and IT. How much of this bloat, could reimagine and invigorate your child's classroom tomorrow?

Full disclosure, I have a lot of friends that are not going to like this out loud post... If that is you, I'm sorry.  Let's brainstorm ways to make your role truly child centric and productive, while also building on your own skills and talents. Because, "managing a tool",  or "aligning your curriculum to common core", and other hidden non-jobs is driving me batty.

My baseline starting point...

Empower our teachers with the tools, bandwidth, and space they need.

Get in to a school ASAP and work with teachers, kids, admin, support staff and publish your own ideas and learning from each day out loud.

Loosely or as a project; audit your school and/or district funding

My hope is after you read this you will be motivated to invest in the core tenets of change. Or perhaps you will be motivated after looking at this critically and possibly in a mirror and say, "we could do better for our children"

I'm tired. I'm disheartened. I hope I am not alone...
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Thursday, September 26, 2013

Pre Summit Bootcamp Seoul, Korea 2013

Google Apps for Education Certification Bootcamp offered by the EdTechTeam serves two purposes: to raise awareness about how Google Apps can be used in education (with students and among colleagues), and to prepare participants to pass the Google Apps for Education Qualification Tests.

via Storify

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Why Success Always Starts With Failure - 99U

via Delicious

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Google Forms, Refreshed | Google Drive Blog

These are really nice features to roll out, but I have a feeling that we are going to see a lot more of the features we want from the output (spreadsheets) and the forms itself (images perhaps?) Love that my toolkit just expanded and became more collaborative and all I did was open up the app. So cool.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Google + mention feature in Blogger

There are a couple of things that I really like about mentioning someone in a post and thereby replying, or by bringing someone in to a post that you're reading from blogger.

"If you really want to grab someone's attention when you share in Google+, try mentioning them using the '+' or '@' signs. When you do this, the person may receive a notification that you mentioned them in a post (depending on their notification settings.) They'll also be able to see the entirety of the post on which they were mentioned even if the post wasn't originally shared with them."
A couple of important notes:
  • You can only mention people who are on Google+
  • As you type, an auto complete list of people will appear
  • If author or commenter "locks" the post you will be unable to share or comment

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Unleashing creativity in Google’s CSI:Lab | Official Google Blog

I especially love the idea of know and own what inspires you.;) "Take a peek at five tips to help you embrace the CSI:Lab spirit and add more creativity and innovation to your everyday life—whether it be at home or at the office! Know and own what inspires you. Understand where your inspiration comes from and do it 10x more than you do now. For example, if your inspiration comes from museums, then go to museums 10x more often; if your inspiration comes from people, talk to 10 new people each week. Think like a child. Be open and question everything around you. Try not to pre-judge thoughts or ideas; develop them. Dive into something new. Involve yourself in areas at work where you’re unfamiliar with the content and want to learn more. People are generally happy to share their knowledge and you can often teach them something too just by bringing a fresh perspective to their work. Play with fun and unusual materials when developing an idea. We all constantly use our computers and paper and pen, so think outside the box to get your mind flowing. Want to “prototype” a solution you’ve thought of? Grab some pipe cleaners, construction paper, LEGO figures, name it! See how the materials inspire you. Invest in your physical space. Having a supportive environment can make a big difference, so learn how what types of space inspire creativity. To create a more open, playful environment, try a flexible workplace with no offices. Or, help ideas flow more freely by making lots of whiteboard space easily accessible. For example, at Google’s Mountain View campus, we’ve created our own innovation space, called “The Garage” (a nod to the iconic Silicon Valley workspace). “The Garage” is big enough for 170 Googlers to use the area to create, collaborate and experiment"

via Diigo