Sprinkling the Apple fairy dust on school administrators

I have a fairy dust story to tell. All elementary teachers in our district now have five iPads or more per class. Some schools have a one-to-two ratio, a few have a one-to-one ratio (because they quickly understood the power of this tool to amplify learning and creativity, so they organized community partnerships and events to fund the iPads). Some teachers are excited about iPads in the classroom, while others are, well, scared. Administrators, in general, used their new iPads even less (they all received one last year). I would say that more than three-quarters of them hadn’t touched their iPad at all.

I joined the district team this year as a tech leader. With our different fields of specialty, my team and I planned full-day workshops for our school administrators with a tech and pedagogy teacher leader from each school to learn more about how to transform our education system so that students are more engaged (like with CBL), so that we are more inclusive, and so that we bring the students to be more aware of what they are learning and how they learn on a daily basis. We worked on skill development as well. We taught the way we encouraged them to bring their teachers to teach (lots of teamwork, hands-on creative activities).

While the main focus of these workshops was not learning about how to use the iPad, I encouraged my team to have them use the iPad for our activities. On the first day, each school team had to create with iPad using the app(s) of their choice to demonstrate their learning. On this day, I would say that the tech/pedagogy teacher from each school took charge, and I can’t say that most of the administrators used their iPads very much, except for one Freeform activity. At the end of the day, half the schools lined the wall, and the other half faced them, and like with speed dating, they had a timed discussion and shared their creations. (We had about 160 people in the room). We repeated this session on another day for the remainder of our schools. Then, we planned day two. This time our focus was assessment during learning (self, peer, and teacher assessments).

On this day, I encouraged my team to switch things up a bit and to have each person take their own creative notes with the app of his or her choice throughout the day (instead of doing this in school teams). (I only briefly showed examples of what different apps can do and only showed how to use each app for about one minute. I encouraged them to ask people in the room for help if they had questions on how to use their chosen app, like we encouraged teachers to do with their students). We gave them time to reflect and to add to their learning journal, sketchnotes, infograpic or video. They reflected many times as the day went on. Early on in the day, they also had to choose a component of our communicative skill development and assessed where they would situate themselves on the continuum in order to set a personal goal for the day. Most chose to work on learning to communicate with creativity with a new technological tool, so they got out of their comfort zone and tried to learn a new app. They also had other creative tasks to do during the day with their iPads. Also, each school administrator and leader made a plan on how to teach what they had learned to their teachers. (Many decided to have them create with their choice of apps as well with similar activities).

At the end of the day, half the participants lined the walls of the room, and the other half faced them in an inner circle. And, they shared what they had learned throughout the day about assessment and were very proud to show their work and their creativity. The timer went off, then they shared with someone new. The room was full of enthusiasm, and… fairy dust. As they had used different apps, they asked each other how they had done certain things, and they learned about other things that can be done with an iPad. They made sketchnotes, infographics in Keynote, movies in Clips or iMovie, some used models in Pages, others took creative notes in Freeform. The second day with the remainder or the schools went just as well. Many said that now they will use their iPads and don’t feel so intimidated and will use it during staff meetings and on a daily basis now. I am so proud of them all. If you are a district tech leader and want your school administrators to learn about the magic of the iPad (best tool ever to collect evidence of learning), remember that like with students, they just need to have a mission and expectations to use it to create and share with others. They don’t need long instructions on how to use the creative tools. They can discover as they go and help each other out. Have fun sprinkling the fairy dust.

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Posted on February 17, 2024

Wonderful story Genette with a valuable message. Thanks for the share!

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