Tuesday, May 17, 2016

1 More Thing

There are so many wonderful technology tools out there: Infographics, Video sites, Creation sites, blogging, minecraft, coding, etc.

There are also different ways of presenting this information.  Is it PBL, student-centered learning, integration with content, SAMR, etc.

As we offer trainings to our teachers it is no wonder why we hear or say that it seems like we are just getting one more thing.  The flavor of the month or app of the week training is not something that we should push out.  Let the teachers pull for that.

What is a Push and Pull Culture:
Do you feel like you are constantly pushing apps and training onto your teachers?
Do you feel that your district is constantly shoving technology down your throat?

Are you a district TOSA with a booked schedule of teachers calling you out to their school?
Are you innovating with the apps that your district has been trained and are you seeking more?

Are you a push district?  

How did we become a pull district?

Let me give some context and explain my situation.  I am the Director of EdTech in my district.  We have been implementing chromebooks and professional development for the past 3 years to increase the effectiveness of use of the chromebooks.

At the start of our implementation, we were a push district.  Out of necessity, we needed to show teachers what was possible.  At some point, we had to stop pushing out new apps and new programs.  Teachers self reported overload and implementation suffered.

This past year we have focused on 1 or 2 programs.  Every training has been on that. Our focus has been Google Sheets and Slides.  Why?  These are the 2 most expandable programs on the internet.  Every teacher (within reason) has created a powerpoint.  We can use that to reach to lowest common denominator in every one of our trainings.  We can also provide ideas for extension (collaboration, differentiation, combining with screencastify, etc).  Spreadsheets... it is hard pressed to find something that cannot be done on a spreadsheet.  To quote Alice Keeler "The answer is always a spreadsheet."

The most innovative thing in education is the teacher, no the computer.

What has this done?  Teachers are getting comfortable with these tools.  They can use the tool ad are extending to uses that I would never have figured out.  They have been able to transform their classrooms with simple tools.  It has reinforced that the most innovative thing in education is the teacher, no the computer.  They are asking us to come out and show them more.  Our teachers are creating a pull culture.

If you push, people push back.  
If you pull back, opponents tend to pull you back in.

In high school, I was a wrestler.  In wrestling, you need to set up your moves, get people to move in a certain way.  To get your opponent to step towards you, you step back.  It tends to be the opposite of what you think.  If you push, people push back.  If you pull back, opponents tend to pull you back in.

To get your teachers interested, step back.  Teach them less, but be mindful of what you choose to teach them. Show them creativity and possibilities with simple tools.  This is not to say that trainings are less rigorous or less valuable, this is to say that your trainings should not be scattered in the latest blog that you read (except this one), but that your trainings build off each other.  Find a program that you could use to teach a year of lessons with.  If your teachers learn one tool and use that tool with creativity and innovation, they can create a dynamic course.  If you are a DOK person, do not give 1000 trainings to a DOK level of 1 on each app.  Give teachers 1000 trainings on the same app with different applications of the same thing (application shows up in DOK level 2).  Don't give them one more thing every time.  Build on the 1 thing every time, it is more rigorous and effective.  Teachers will feel innovative using 1 program and pull at you for more training.  Create a Pull culture in your district.

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