What I’m Reading. What are you Reading?

I am interested in the conversation about where education needs to be in 5, 10, and 20 years.

Below are a few of the books I’m accumulating for summer reading.  What else would you recommend?

Daring Greatly — Brene Brown — Definitely check out her TEDx Talk too.  Brown tackles vulnerability and shame. Her work has changed the way I approach leadership  teaching, and my family.  Engaging your family, colleagues, students from alongside and working to see what they see and feel what they feel.

The Secrets of Happy Families — A great book on parenting and being a better parent in our intensely competitive and over scheduled world.

Creating Innovators — Tony Wagner — What we should be doing/thinking about in education to prepare our students for their futures.

If you’d like to discuss what books you are recommending and how you are helping your faculty look towards the future, please let me know.

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NYSAIS – Moving from Professional Development to Professional Learning and Collaboration

A few weeks ago, I had the honor of attending the first annual meeting of the New York State Association of Independent Schools (NYSAIS) Council for Professional Learning and Community (CPLC).  The meeting was coined Think Tank 2011.  This group consists of members of all of the conference committees and institutes that NYSAIS organizes each year.  The conferences include, Diversity personnel, Heads of School, Division Directors and Assistant Heads, Technologists and Librarians, Development and Alumni personnel, Early Childhood directors, as well as a number of Institutes: New Teacher, Experienced Teachers, New Division Heads, and New and Emerging Leaders.  NYSAIS also offers many one day professional growth opportunities throughout the year.

The framing idea of Think Thank 2011 was “What Would Google Do?” a book by Jeff Jarvis from 2009.  That theme helped this group think about how to be in the place where the professional development and help facilitate conversations and continuous growth, while being open and helping people navigate all of the offerings of professional growth available to them.

The change I noticed in the conversations these school leaders were having was the shift from professional development to professional learning.  It was a wise person who coined the title Commission for Professional Learning and Community for this group.  Instead of just thinking of the one shot professional development day, this group was thinking about how to create supports for the continued learning and development of each faculty and staff member at NYSAIS Schools.  This was a powerful shift for this group to be making. 

To go along with this movement towards continuous growth and learning was the launch of the NYSAIS Community, a site developed to support the learning and continuous growth of faculty and staff at NYSAIS.  The site uses a NING back end and was developed over the last year by arvind grover, Barbara Swanson, Josie Holford, George Swain, and Marcy Mann, and me.  We dreamed up the site in June of 2010 during the first NYSAIS Think Tank.

I am excited about the movement of professional growth with NYSAIS and I can see that it will be better poised to support the growth and development of stronger teachers, staff, and administrators.  Thanks to Mark Lauria, Barbara Swanson and Lois Bailey for their leadership of NYSAIS and organizing this event. 

What organizations do you know of that are leading the way toward better learning for teachers?

Photo Credit:http://www.flickr.com/photos/joiseyshowaa/1400175456

Integrating Technology into your Classrom – PK – 3rd Grade

 

This afternoon I ran a session on Integrating Technology into your Pre-K – 3rd Grade Classroom.  I ran through a few examples of how we use technology for communication and in the classroom at Collegiate ,and then reviewed some of the great iPad apps I’ve been testing out.  Thanks to all of the participants for your great questions/comments.  Below are my slides and links to resources that we discussed.  Please post questions in the comments!

Point 1: Build a Personal Learning Network

Join the Independent School Educator’s NING

or Join Twitter and follow these elementary school educators or these curriculum coordinators.

Point 2: Communication: Newsletter

Use a Content Management System – We use Whipplehill’s Community Groups to build a newsletter with photos and news stories for your parents.

Point 3: Use a blog to communicate or have your students write and publish information

Get a free blog at Edublogs, WordPress.com, or Blogger.  Even easier options available at Posterous.cohttp://posterous.com or Tumblr.com.

Post videos at vimeo.com and embed them in your blog.

Point 4: Geography: Use Google Earth to show your students the world!

Point 5: Problem Solving: Scratch

Scratch is a free program that is an excellent introduction to programming for students.  You can tell stories, create games or work on challenges with your students.  Here’s a great site to start learning scratch.

Point 6: Communicate with Video

Create videos that show students gaining mastery of jumping, playing or teaching another student a skill they have learned.  Post these videos at Vimeo and embed them on your blog.  You can use a flip video camera (I recommend putting them on tripods)

Point 7: The iPad

We looked at the following apps:

StoryBuddy

Web Albums

Math Lite

LetterForms

MathBlasting

ArtStudio

Thanks to @melhutch and @inixon for their support on this presentation!

What did I miss?  What are your questions?

What is your favorite resource for Lower School Technology Integration?

Projects for the Year…

I’ve been back to work for a week and many of our faculty will be back next week.  My staff has been hard at work all summer setting up new machines and reimaging old ones.  We’ve rolled out 50 new desktop computers in two computer labs and classrooms.  We are in the process of rolling out 30 new faculty laptops and servicing the other 40 that are already deployed to faculty.  This includes service packs, an Outlook upgrade, and SmartNotebook 10.  As we do these laptop upgrades, we’re requiring faculty to participate in a 30-45 minute training session when they pick up their laptops.  During this training session, we’re reviewing basic laptop maintenance, spending a few minutes training the faculty on Outlook, and making sure our backup script works. 

In addition to the nuts and bolts above here are some of the projects that I’m working on for the school year (Thanks to Jim Heynderickx for the inspiration here):

Outlook Training: During the first month of outlookschool we have to make sure to provide enough support to faculty, staff and students so we can complete our transition from FirstClass to Outlook.  So far, so good as our transition over the summer was completed with only a few minor issues and with a positive reaction from the community.  Change is hard, so I don’t expect that September will be a cake walk, but with appropriate communication and preemptive training and support, we’ll be in a good place in October. 

Continued Professional Development including New Faculty and moodle Student Orientation,  Collegiate Connect (our SIS and communication hub for school constituents), Gradebook, Smartboards, and Moodle.  This is a big one. 

  • New Faculty Orientation is a big one as we need to bring our faculty in, show them what we have to offer and how to find resources about technology at the school.  Luckily, we have two one hour sessions with the new faculty this year and that will allow us to do a nuts and bolts session: file sharing, printing, Outlook email, and Collegiate Connect (SIS).  The second session will be a technology scavenger hunt that our Academic Dean and Lower School Assistant Head are putting together.  This is going to be a fun exercise to see if new faculty can use the training and FAQ material we’ve posted on our department web site to get the scavenger hunt done. 
  • New Student Orientation includes much of the above, plus a heavy dose of Acceptable Use in 20 minutes.  Any ideas? 
  • Collegiate Connect training is usually done in conjunction with division meetings as it consists of specific administrative responsibilities of the faculty in each division.    We’re creating lots of documentation in the form of FAQs on our Technology web site for this.
  • Gradebook, Smartboard and Moodle training.  None of these tools smartboardare  required so we’ll be providing as needed support on them in September and then rolling each out via targeted monthly themes with professional development and communication with the faculty during those periods. 

 

Powerful Learning Practice — This is very exciting.  Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach and Will Richardson are running this professional development program for five of our faculty/administrators.  Here’s how they describe it:

Powerful Learning Practice offers a unique opportunity for educators to participate in a long-term, job-embedded professional development program that immerses them in 21st Century learning environments.

Day one of this is September 8th.  I’m psyched. 

Website Upgrade — Yes, we’re upgrading our web site.  This collaborative process has taken longer than I planned, but we’re on track for a January launch providing us a much better look and feel and more integration between our site and Collegiate Connect. 

And a few smaller ones —

Faculty Professional Development Reports — Last year we did these in a DrupalEd environment.  This year, they will be in Moodle.   Just waiting for MoodleRooms to finish up our Moodle config and we’ll be rocking and rolling. 

New Media Gallery Training — Whipplehill just released the new version of their Media Gallery which is a Flickr like upgrade to their photo galleries but wh also includes a slick video and audio player.  Tagging and all sorts of web 2.0 goodies available.  We’re starting with our archived digital photos from 2001 to the present.  Our archivist has two parent volunteers who will be working on this all year.  Very exciting!

Oh, yeah — On the personal front we’re a few weeks away from a working kitchen — you can check out some of the pics here.  Feels like I have two 10 hour a day jobs lately. 

arvind and I will be webcasting again over at EdTechTalk in the next few weeks.  Just need to wait for his teaching schedule to get going. 

I’ve also decided not to subscribe to all of the listserv’s I traditional participate in and concentrate on Twitter, the ISENet Ning and my Blogroll this year.  See you all there. 

I’m sure there is lots more, but that’s it in a nut shell right now.  See you all on the other side!

Managing Progress

 This year is a rebuilding year.  As I wrote about in my reorganization post in the summer, I have three new staff members in my department this year.  We are physically 12_11_2007 08_02 AMspread all over the school, creating divisions that can negatively effect department cohesiveness if we do not stay in frequent contact.

To work around this, we’ve been meeting bi-weekly as a whole department.   I meet daily with my Network Administration and Technical Support Specialist.  I have also scheduled bi-weekly meetings with individual department members.  I know, you’re saying, that’s a lot of meetings.  But these meetings are critical to keeping things going.  To check in and move projects forward.  To know how my staff is feeling.  As we grow more cohesive, I can see taking some time off of these meetings, but for now, they are critical. 

In the support staff meetings, we have been digging through our network settings (active directory policies, Internet settings, and router and switch configs), desktop and laptop image  creation and configuration, policies and procedures, and how to communicate with faculty and staff.  These conversations allow us to share best practices.  It allows us to know what our technical issues are and to wrestle with making decisions for next September. 

In full department meetings, we started by discussing how we are communicating internally, what we have been doing over the semester, and which tools we will be rolling out to the academic community over the next year.  We’ve used so many different technologies over the past few years, that keeping up is tough.  So we created a list of the department blog, wiki, and our web help desk.   We discussed how to use each one.  We use these tools in our day to day work with the school and the department.     

So is this and effective management technique? 

In order to evaluate them, I need to look back to the goals of my department:

  • To provide reliable and consistent access to technology for students, faculty, and staff
  • To develop technology skills in students, faculty and staff that support the curricular goals of the school

If I measure us against those goals, we are definitely more prepared to support our faculty and staff. This is a slow process because we are going through all of our configurations with a fine tooth comb, but we’re fixing support issues that have been nagging us for years and we’re looking to the future for major improvements.

On the classroom integration front, I see progress in taking our more technology savvy faculty to the next level.  We are also making progress in implementing student and faculty curriculum standards.  We are building out our Intranet where we can support WordPress MU, Gallery, Moodle, and some group Drupal sites.  We’ll be concentrating on how we use these tools in the spring.

How do you manage staff transitions?

How do you keep a dispersed department cohesive?

Frustration with Microsoft Word

We’ve been testing out DrupalEd for a faculty collaboration and sharing of information this fall, and it’s been flexible and worked like a charm after a normal CMS learning curve. 

So our faculty are submitting their summer professional development reports through a form.  The problem is that when faculty copy and paste from Word, even using the TinyMCE copy from word and code clean up buttons, it does not work so well.  Paragraphs are lost, hard returns are added. 

Trying to change the editor/word processor that people write in is so difficult.  I’m already asking faculty to change by publishing these reports on a web site versus just e-mailing them to our Academic Dean.  I don’t feel as though I have the option of adding steps such as saving the file as a txt file first.  This is supposed to be simplifying but is making   more work than it is worth.

Personally, I’ve started doing all of my writing in Notepad++ or Windows Live Writer because it is light and I find it so much faster than the either Microsoft Word or OpenOffice Write. 

I guess I could use recommend faculty use Wordpad, but it’s still asking folks to change from the editor that they are used to using.  Change is tough enough as it is, and I’m working hard to simplify this year.  Even as I try to simplify, I feel as though I keep piling up more directions in front of our faculty who are already busy and don’t need more administrative burden. 

What do you do?  Any suggestions on how to move faculty to a web based platform without all of the code issues easily?  How do we simplify in this time of ever expanding options? 

Thanks for any input.

Reorganization

Much of the past six months I spent searching and hiring new staff members for my department. In what felt endless at times, we hired a Lower School Technology Coordinator, a Technical Support Specialist and an Administrative Assistant. The second two of these positions were new and/or redefined as well. They both add to the service side of our Technology Department, and move me into a position of Technology Integrator in our Upper School. A change that I am very excited about.

Here’s what the department organization looks like now:

tech-department-structure

All of this change has been hard work. So far, the results are great. I’m feeling that we have a strong team in place. Everyone is getting what their job is and moving learning quickly. All of these new hires were the strongest candidates and we did due diligence on the search processes.

Now that the people are in place, we need to reflect on and adjust our procedures so that we can provide first class support for our users, while providing more robust professional development in order to utilize the technology to its fullest potential. We need to communicate better with the faculty, staff and students at the school and share our goals.

Speaking of goals, here are the department goals that we agreed upon last Spring:

  1. To provide reliable and consistent access to technology to the school community
  2. To develop technology skills in students, faculty and staff that support the curricular goals of the school

Not the most glamorous, but clear, core goals.

Over the next few months, we will be assimilating these new staff members and creating new technology integration goals for our school. We’ll be publishing our updated AUP and doing our best to bring all of our communications into one place.

I’m learning a lot about managing, providing clear goals and coming back to these goals often. A blend of Getting Things Done, Good to Great, and Now Here are your Strengths. Our school leadership is doing a wonderful job providing clear goals and honest feedback. Leadership is critical for healthy organizations and I feel very lucky to be in the position I am right now.