My philosophy of education is best explained by describing the setting in which it was originally molded -- The Classroom. A model classroom is (simply and yet not so simply) one in which students are the focal point. It includes targeted noise, more questions than answers, movement, students collaborating in various ways, and celebrated failures.
The students are standing, sitting, talking, writing, touching, watching, listening, moving and typing- sometimes simultaneously. Their eyes are looking up in thought or laser focused on a problem with turned down eyebrows. Their mouths are smiling, laughing, talking or they have their tongues sticking out for focus.
The teacher is listening, watching, taking notes, monitoring, probing, walking, kneeling, demonstrating, or celebrating. He/She is comfortable in knowing - if you're doing it right, you don't always have the answers -because he/she has taken students to new levels of inquiry and critical thinking. The materials are organized but maybe not neat (real learning is seldom neat), authentic, and skill- driven, but just random enough to promote creative thought.
The walls will vary depending on the time of year. Early in the year, they will be blank and waiting for ideas, thinking maps, plans, learning schedules, and endless evidences of concept mastery. The furniture arrangement is flexible and quickly/easily amended to match the task. The equipment is readily available, easily accessible, functioning properly, and varied for multiple intelligences. There are established learning areas for noise and quiet, formal and informal seating, or high and low lighting.
The lessons are clearly data driven, focused on the TEKS, logically sequenced and short to allow maximized time for practice experiences or discussions. There is evidence that classroom routines and working procedures are clearly established and used regularly and consistently. There are celebrations - large and small - to value effort and arrival towards mastery. The positive culture and oneness of student to student and student to teacher interactions can be felt, heard and seen upon entry. There is a strong sense that both students and teachers have mutual and reciprocal teaching and learning opportunities together.
BUT, WHAT IF...
Dare I say, is it possible that a model classroom may not be a classroom at all? Could the idea of 'classroom' be more proverbial than literal? What If it looked more like Brookshires, the department store, or even videoed demonstrations from home? My educational philosophy is one that seeks to throw away the box and offer learners authentic and powerful learning that implants childlike curiosity back into the learning process.
I do occasionally find myself with the familiar red cheeks from years gone by that tattle-tale my nervousness. I'm not sure why or what the circumstances are that create it, but sometimes, I STILL get a little stage fright without warning. What helps the most is active participation from my learning group. Seeing the eye contact, the nods, and "the look" ..... you know the one. That's what brings me back to the place where I can take a deep breath and relax again.
If you've taken any time at all to surf through my instructional videos, it will be pretty plain to see that I don't spend a lot of time, money, or energy on professional video production. You'll notice they are choppy, full of "Um"s and maybe even bordering on unprofessional by Tech Integration Specialist standards.
There IS Method to my Madness, friends!
I am so incredibly excited to continue to move toward my vision for Instructional Technology here at CHISD by breaking ground with the very first student-built and student-led Instructional Technology Training Team at the high school campus!
I am currently in the process of recruiting a student team to train for a phenomenal new experience to bring teachers and students together for a common goal of weaving technology into our instruction and learning.
The STAT team will serve two primary purposes:
1. Instructional Technology Support
In order to build on the idea that Instructional Technology is the "Step Two", following learning to use technology, we first have to master those Step One skills! That's where the STAT team comes in. STAT team members will be available during their Office Aide class period by appointment to work with teachers or students. Here is a short list of examples, but these ideas are just the beginning! STAT TEAM SKILLS
2. EdTech Resource Bank
When the STAT Team isn't actively engaged in appointments for Instructional Technology Support, they will work together on an open ended project to build a How-To and What's That bank of knowledge for students and teachers to access.
Other instructional videos and blog posts will be created to help with processes many classrooms use regularly, such as:
Stay Tuned for More Updates!
Here comes the 'but'
But that means moving slow. I sometimes feel like I should just change my name to "The Google Girl". That's the first big ticket item that really took off district wide (& I love that), but I'm still stuck there. My vision for Instructional Technology is a BIG one. I want to literally change the trajectory of our entire community by widening the scope for its next generation -- the students we teach today. Our Bulldog Family is more than just "The Hill". I want the sky to be the limit, and I've covered about a square inch of a continental journey! I want so much more for you and for your students. I wish I had an army of Connie Clones I could send out!
THE DREAM happens with first steps
Redundant much? I occasionally thumb through my videos and I've discovered I use the word "awesome" ENTIRELY too much! I think I'll make it my Connie Buzz Word. Everyone needs a brand these days, right? If I had to choose a word to overuse to brag on my Bulldog Family, that should DEFINITELY be the one though. Let's face it.... YOU ARE TECH-AWESOME!
It's Thursday..... just FOUR more days until I launch my VERY FIRST district-wide event!
Ok, well that's not exactly true. I've planned the Mini-sessions events for the last 2 yrs, & that's a pretty big thing. But.... I mean THOSE are mandatory! You have to go, so whether or not it ends up a Flyer or a Flopper is kind of irrelevant.
The Techno Yahtzee Contest coming up next week is different. It's not something I inherited & built upon. It's completely my idea AND It's completely your choice to participate. So, I find myself nervous. I guess, for some reason, I feel like your participation (or lack thereof) will somehow be a reflection on me as a Tech Trainer, or Event Planner, or Cool Idea Maker, or Something! At least it is to me. Here's why....
I really, honestly want more than anything to find new ways to get you (& your students) more involved using technology as a tool for instruction without making it something extra for you to deal with or making it a drudgery. I want you to see in yourself what I see in you. When I look out at the audience at trainings, I see MY family of educators who sincerely want to make a difference. Maybe you are sometimes too busy or too tired or too pushed passed the limit to remember that, but I still see that in you; and I want to be a part of it WITH you. You are constantly on my mind. What can I do to make it more valuable, more attractive, more fun? How can I FINALLY think of something that will be "the thing" that brings you all the break you so desperately deserve!? How can I help those who I lovingly call 'tech-uncomfortable' to be more confident in this ever-changing role of "Teacher/Learning Tour Guide" while using technology?
What I'm hoping to get out of this 'Game' is for everyone to walk away with SOMETHING to hold on to.
Ugh... Remember the era of the "Telephone Answering Machine"? That's probably the first time a lot of us actually paid attention to what our voices sound like to others. And so can I just say
I AM SOOOOO SORRY!
I'm convinced that my voice on videos (& probably in person) rates right up there with the 3rd string host of the QVC shopping channel!
To add insult to injury, I have discovered that I struggle with creating training videos for you. I try. I want you to have access to what you need when you need it -- even if it's at 2AM while you're pondering instructional technology alongside "What is the meaning of life?" and "Why is the sky blue?" but they are all still so choppy and uncomfortable.
While I do a pretty good job with public speaking in front of an audience, talking to pretend people during video training is a completely different experience. I really need to see people in front of me, interact, and get feedback in order to conduct a quality training.
My hope (for your sake) is that it will get better with time and experience. Until then, just take one for the team.... :)
Check out this article I wrote on Medium. It will explain. :)
I know how busy you all are. I know you have more on your list than you could ever complete and even more that you want to do. Your job is NEVER ENDING!
That's why I try to keep my "Hey check out this amazing thing that's right up your alley" to a minimum. Trust me, I WANT to be in your classrooms, working with you to enhance your instruction as much as I possibly can! But.... I don't want to become that gal you hide from when you see me walking down your hallway either.
I like to let you come to me... when you're ready. Just don't forget about me though. I'm ALWAYS here and excited to help you use all the great technology tools you have at your disposal to boost your instructional strategies (and successes) through the roof!
I love having the freedom of a 100% open schedule. That means when you need me, I can come RIGHT THEN. I've noticed most people call me at the first moment they are frustrated with what they are trying to do. If they have wait, the opportunity to feel positive about their tech integration efforts has been lost. This is one of my favorite parts of what I do... being there to experience you trying something new and feeling successful.
So, why is this a confession? I would come to the rescue for support much faster, but I'm usually frantically searching the app or program you're asking about to 'LEARN' it myself! There are just too many out there to know about them ALL, so the chances of me knowing about your (fill in the blank cool technology find) is pretty slim. Knowing enough about the general big picture of how things work usually gets me through in a pinch. Plus, what you usually need is a hand to hold for confidence.
You will often hear me refer to "thingys" and "whatcha-ma-callits". Just take a guess is the best advice this 2nd language learner TIF (who will forever call # a pound sign) has to offer. I have found this one to work to my advantage though. Most tech-amazing teachers understand my broken dialect, while the teachers who need me the most feel less threatened by my verbiage. It gives them a level of comfort to really talk to me about what they have always wanted to do, but have been too afraid to try.
.... (insert ANY type of hardware here). My position is all about Technology INTEGRATION (thank God), and I honestly have no earthly idea how to connect or fix ANYTHING. If I have ever tried to help you with anything of this nature, I'm certain my lack of knowledge was glaring like the desert Sun! TBH.... I only try to help you to get my big proverbial foot in the door so we can talk about how I can help you integrate technology into your lessons.
Let's get real, OK? I got hired for my expertise in curriculum. ... aaaand I know just enough about technology to be dangerous. So, it's confession time for this Newby TIF. There's a lot I don't know....YET.