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With the cost of devices at an all time low, school districts across the country are turning to technology as a means to transform learning and reduce costs at the same time. There is a significant uptick in the amount of monies allocated toward technology within school district budgets and the number of devices being used within the classroom.
Here are some questions that your district should answer when considering a 1:1 program:
Teaching & Learning
The above questions should assist with your decision to forge ahead with a 1:1 or other mobile technology integration. Students are surrounded by technology and should not be asked to power down for a third of their day while they are in school.
How many times have you sent someone an email, received his/her out of office message and then low and behold within an hour or two you have an actual response to your original question?
In this instant, constantly connected world that we live in and emails pushing into all sorts of different smartphones, individuals are still receiving and checking their email while on the go, on vacation, or out of the office.
To me, this creates two poignant questions:
1. Why the Out of Office?
This scenario occurs regularly for me. I receive: “I’m currently out of the office on business with limited access to email. If this is time sensitive, please contact my assistant. Otherwise, I will respond when I return on <Insert Date>.” Then, I get a response. So, it begs the question – is this automated message actually necessary?
If you are still going to check your email, albeit less frequently, there really isn’t a need to turn on your Out of Office message. While you may not be physically in the office, if you are still reachable and responding then perhaps it’s time to rethink activating that out of office message before you walk out the door.
2. When Does the Workday End?
If you’re receiving and responding to emails at 6AM, 12PM, 6PM, and 12AM (and anywhere in between), what is your established workday? People expect answers quickly and have become accustomed to the constantly connected workplace. Waiting 24 hours for a response to an email is almost unheard of let alone two to three hours for a text message. How did we get to this type of completely plugged in society that conducts business 24 hours a day?
It’s become an interesting paradigm that makes one wonder how long our society will be able to keep pace and how many people will actually start unplugging on a regular basis.
As the school year commences across the United States, students and teachers are arriving back to their classrooms and schools. Summer proves to be a busy time for administrators and other staff as they begin to implement certain changes that will affect teachers and students for the coming school year.
For a teacher, meeting these changes (along with all of the other start of the school year preparations) can seem daunting.
For an administrator, managing these changes can be difficult amidst the ever-full plate of a teacher.
Having managed transitions with website platform, email provider in the middle of the year, and deploying 1:1 devices to transform learning, here are some insights to successfully manage change when working within a school district.
OFFER VALUABLE PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Teachers are masters in their trade, have command of their subject areas, pedagogical practices, and the art of engaging a student. That being said, a teacher is a master at everything. In this changing world where technology is ever present and reliable, students more than likely come to the classroom knowing more than the adult in the room. This is a paradigm that, especially for content area specialists, is a new dynamic in the classroom.
Thus, there is a demand and need for training and professional development for these teachers. You need to provide it. Your teachers need to feel the basic level of competency regarding the new program software to even think about trying to use it in the classroom.
Teachers also need to know that you will support them, especially when trying something new, along the way. Their administrators need to know that everything isn’t always perfect and support mechanisms should be in place through professional development to utilize and implement these changing practices.
A pitfall that I ran into when managing a few changes is the lack of communication (or the lack of effective communication). I found myself being verbose in my emails, which led to only portions of them being read, communicating solely via email, and responding quickly without the large thought process behind it.
Therefore, I strongly recommend that you communicate your message and implementation timeline repeatedly. Successful districts have devoted entire websites to their changes, especially large changes within the district, to keep all stakeholders involved and updated in the process.
Choose your words carefully when you are communicating and share your news through email, face to face at staff meetings, and handouts in mailboxes.
The over communication will keep your district staff members informed and abreast of changes along the way. Don’t be afraid to mention that there was a set back or a date change. Be real as part of your communication.
VALIDATE THE NEED FOR CHANGE
As you are talking about the changes (master schedule, technology integration, etc.), teachers want to know the WHY and HOW of these changes. By validating the reason and need for the change, more will jump on board at the onset.
While an administrator likes to save money within their budget, teachers want a reason that impacts them and their students. Balancing the budget is a great practice for school districts, but isn’t the end all be all for teachers.
How will your change benefit them? Reduce the amount of time spent on a certain task? Impact learning? These are the types of validation that teachers look for when accepting change.
In the words of Mahatma Gandhi, “you must be the change you wish to see in the world.” If you stand by your changes, others will follow. Be positive, proactive, and purposeful!