Big Ideas

Growing Focus

I’m growing!  This semester has been a great one to learn about leadership locally.  I’ve also done quite a bit of reading on the use of Information Communication Technologies around the globe.  I’ve talked with my classmates at Lamar University about change.  I’ve had some good conversations around the lunch table with my colleagues at my school about what I’m learning.  Now it’s time to connect some dots and refocus.


Let’s recap – I’m wanting to grow myself, my colleagues, and my students.  I see supercomputers (my students call them smart phones) everywhere being used to play music and send text messages.  I know my students spend hours online.  But are they learning anything useful?  Are they creating anything good?  Am I doing anything differently to engage these young souls? These are some of the issues that have gotten my attention lately.


My Goals:

  1. Three faculty members (out of 13 middle and high school faculty) will begin using mobile technologies for deeper, richer learning in their classrooms; each on average five times a month by June 2017.
  2. Two high quality video lessons will be created by ALCS faculty by December 1st, 2016.


I’ve decided to slightly modify these goals from previously.  While the goals themselves are almost the same, I'm understanding more of the work that will be needed to see them come to fruition.  This following list is, I hope, a more mature and accurate list (compared with my last list) of activities and behaviors that will be needed.    



Ways to Grow my Goals:

  1. Co-author “responsible use” policies for my district regarding the use of Mobile Technologies in the classroom.
  2. Identify weaknesses in wireless network management and deployment by collaborating with the IT department.
  3. Help teachers identify good curricular candidates for mobile technology innovation.
  4. Encourage teachers to explore, evaluate and test tools/apps for integration with mobile technology in their classrooms.
  5. Provide in-house training on current practices of mobile technology and online lesson planning.
  6. Create and identify a variety of recording and editing software for teachers to use.
  7. Challenge teachers to integrate mobile technology or online activities during lesson planning.
  8. Provide training for teachers on video recording and editing.
  9. Teachers begin creating resources for online lessons by identifying appropriate online content libraries and lessons or by actually creating video content.
  10. Organize just-in-time support for teachers first using mobile technologies in the classroom.
  11. Create opportunities to share experiences with mobile technology or online lessons.
  12. Teachers share their personal experiences with mobile technology or online lessons with each other.
  13. Teachers attend professional conferences or seminars related to mobile technology or “blended” classrooms.



What’s worked so far?


I’ve successfully been able to incorporate polleverywhere and Google Documents in my classroom.  There have been beautiful moments where students want to use their technology for all the right reasons.  They want to express themselves in collaborative discussion and see the efficiency and usefulness of doing so in polls and cloud-based documents.


I’ve also been surprised at the ease of acceptance for appropriate classroom Mobile Technology usage from both administration and parents.  After communicating my intent, I only found encouragement and interest from the stake-holders in my community.  I was glad that I had thought through how to handle less than 100% penetration of devices in my classroom.  It makes it challenging, but with good design (and some sharing), there weren’t any major issues.


I also have a colleague who is working to start creating online lessons to augment their classroom learning.  They’ve had good success so far, and anticipate creating more videos in the future!  It feels good to have others around me seeing the value and importance of these issues too.  I’m looking forward to even more collaboration in the future!


What’s changed? 


I see the need to support my administration in developing policies and structures to keep our Mobile Technology and online content within appropriate bounds.  We need to hold our students to high standards.  We also need to have smart infrastructure and bandwidth awareness so that our faciles continue to work smoothly.  The administration hasn’t thought about these things much yet, so I’ll need to step up and help co-author some policies and work with the IT department to make sure things are ready to grow.  


I’ve also had a good paradigm shift in the last week or so.  When first starting to think about change, I was focused on the technology itself.  I really want to see those smart phones get some good use.  But now I understand that if I focus on smart phones and apps or online lessons, I’ll never get what I think is really important!  Those smart phones are just sophisticated plastic-and-metal tools.  Without having teachers understand their potential, those tools will just stay where they are: in lockers and pockets.  I’m beginning to understand that what I’m really after is changing myself and the teachers around me.  I want to grow so that my classroom and school will grow too.  It might SOUND like I’m really interested in the tech, but now I’m realizing that I’m really interested in growing myself and my colleagues so we can better grow our students.


I want to make sure that I’m focusing on the right things: the teachers, their teaching philosophies, and the students.  I don’t want to make the mistakes others have made and put technology in first place.  I want to grow myself and my colleagues to consider new ways to teach deeply. I want to grow my students to love what’s True, beautiful, and virtuous.  So I need to model those ideals by putting students’ learning needs above the desire to use any particular tool.  At the same time, if a certain app will be more effective than what I’ve used before, I’ll need to be courageous and use it!  When I do this, I’m confident that I, my students, and my colleagues will all benefit from the growth and embrace the change.


How about you?  What’s growing in your life?

Curtis White, M.S., M.C.E.
High School Faculty
Math, Science, Bible & Computers
Abundant Life Christian School
A Madison Christian School