Saturday, November 29, 2014

Four things we should do using Technology in Education to come to terms with Privilege

By User:Sargoth (Own work) [Public domain]
It is impossible to avoid thinking about Ferguson these days. But I approach the topic with great trepidation. I am not offering solutions nor explanations just some thoughts about what can be different using the affordances of technology and the power of teaching.

1. Let's not let the moment slip away- once in a while a moment emerges that is an opportunity to discuss equity be it poverty, privilege, race or sexual orientation. Katrina was such a moment but soon national attention drifted away and it was no longer attended to. My lesson from Katrina is to discuss it with my students here and now, leverage the event as it unfolds. The beauty of technology here is in the ability to access events, media, and opinion. As future teachers my students need to learn to pay attention, process, and find ways to integrate meaningful learning about social topics as they arise.

2. Let's be critical. Once students start exploring an event they can explore different narratives, consider point of view and learn to be critical. They can use this critical stance to take a look at their immediate environment and then follow up with action.

3. Let's teach technologies allows everyone to tell their story. Social media tools allows multiple stories to come out and prevents any one channel from telling a unified simple story (that is never true). Encourage your students to use social media to increase the impact of stories that matter to them, encourage them to create their own digital stories.

4. Let's act. With our students we need to make a difference in the real world using physical actions. Then let's document the action and make sure that it has a digital echo as well. For example we are building a family literacy program that builds on family strengths rejecting a deficit stance.

Let's not let this opportunity to discuss things that matter deeply slip away!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Coaching, a Professional Development Lesson from Sports

Ann Donovan WNBA Coach- LA Storm
Coaches are key. This is definitely true in professional sports. Despite the fact that everyone playing is spectacularly talented in their own right, they need guidance, an outside eye and direction. This is what coaches bring in- a game plan, a training regime and vision.

Many of the school districts I work with are using technology coaches as a transitional strategy in a move to one to one device integration. They do that for budgetary reasons and I understand that BUT change is slow (4-7 years) according to research. If we withdraw the support it is not likely to be as excellent.

Why a coach? A coach can get to know everyone, their capacities, and motivations. Coaches can help professionals get to the peek of their performance be it financial physical or in our case educational. If professional sports teams need coaches schools should not be abashed about using them.

My small tiny message here is that maybe we should think about coaches as a permanent part of school improvement and technology integration. In a perpetual cycle of development and adaptation we need someone who can guide, maintain a wider vision and push individuals to perform. Some of that role may be in the building administrator but not all for example this research from ASCD. For coaching to work we know that we need it to be in a low stakes non-evaluative environment that helps all teachers to grow.