Sunday, September 27, 2015

Where Are You In Your Tech Journey?

I started this post approximately 11 months ago and let it sit. I think that the beginning still holds true, so I decided not to delete it.

Written November 2014
My first reflection on +EdTechTeacher iPad Summit in Boston was about being a presenter. This post is about being a conference attendee. There is a huge difference and I did not want to bore anyone with a really long post about both at once. It is always good to go to a conference. It is rare that I don't leave feeling re-energized, and I always come away with new ideas. I was definitely re-energized from attending this conference, but I did not get as many good ideas as I thought I would. The keynotes were outstanding and really made me think. Over the two days I only attended one breakout session that resonated with me. It was entitled, Student Lead Conferences: Using the iPad to Create Portfolio Driven Discussions with the Families. Of course there were many good sessions with good titles and good descriptions, but I couldn't be two places at once and sometimes the title and description don't always tell me everything I need to know about a session. At many of the conferences I go to these days, I here this phrase, "Go where you grow." Meaning that I should get up and walk out a of session if it is not meeting my needs. Typically, I don't do that. When I am in a session that I'm not getting a lot out of I usually think to myself, "It will get better." or "You will get something out of it." I'm just not comfortable leaving a session in the middle. Although it does not bother me when people walk out of my sessions. Why is that of the eight sessions that I attended over the two days, did I only find one beneficial? It really bothered me for two reasons. First, my district spent a lot of money to send me to a conference in another state, I had to bring something back to share. Secondly, I'm not a know it all. There is always room for improvement. I went up to Laura Botte, one of the presenters, when they were done and told her how great the presentation was. She seemed surprised and said, "Thank You". At that moment it dawned on me why I liked their presentation so much. The reasons are two fold. We are discussing rolling out some type of portfolio system in my district and this seems do-able. The second is because of where I am at in my 1:1 journey. The portfolio session is what I need for where I am in my journey now. I was ready to hear that message at that time. Be ready. You never know when you are going to hear a message that you need. Sometimes they come when you are not expecting them.

Written September 2015
I help plan and provide professional development for my district, Just like the way we deliver content for our students, our content for professional development must meet teachers where they are. That is what makes planning and delivering meaningful whole group professional development so difficult. If I have 20 staff members in the room I have to meet them in at least 10 or more different places. When I plan professional development now I spend very little time talking at my staff. I include articles, videos and hands on challenges, so that teachers can work on the things that they need to work on.  They can pick and choose from the relevant materials that I have provided. This seems to work well and I have gotten positive feedback on the sessions I have provided. I circulate the room answering questions as they move through the tasks provided. This strategy helps meet them where they are in their journey.

As a coach I also need to meet teachers where they are to help support them as they plan and carry out student instruction.  Our Apple Trainer Dan Schmit told us in the fall of 2012, "Honor where you are and make a goal to move to the next level." It is ok to be where ever you are on the SAMR model or in your tech journey, whether you have only done work at substitution or have done projects with your students that have been at the redefinition level. Here's the thing about redefinition. It is a moving target. The definition of redefinition is - Tech allows for the creation of new task previously inconceivable. What was once inconceivable is now being done. At one time QR codes redesigned the task of inventorying car parts in a warehouse in Japan. Now in education I generally consider them augmentation on the SAMR ladder. (Remember you have to look at task design along with the lesson objective.) When I realized that redefinition was a moving target it was a big ah-ha moment. I knew then that I need to use the SAMR model as a reflective tool to keep me moving forward when evaluating my tech skills and working with teachers to improve theirs. One of the other things that I have learned in my role as a coach is that most people can't skip a level on the ladder. It truly is a continuum.

Where are you in your tech journey? What resonates with you? I'd love to hear from you in the comments section.