From the Principal's Office: Trusting Students and Staff - Looking Back At Year One of 1:1 With iPads, Part Eight

1/24/2013 12:00:00 AM
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BHS staff member Andrew Marcinek, who blogs  regularly for Edutopia, had a great reflective post regarding our first year as a 1:1 school with iPads.  It is extremely helpful for me to see the reflections of staff and students from the past year. One of the major points I take away from Andy's post is the focus on trusting students.

Trust students.

"One of the best decisions we made before we deployed 1000+ iPads to our student body was to create a student-run genius bar. With this decision, we were putting a lot of trust in the hands of our students. However, it turned out to be a core component of the launch...
...Aside from simply troubleshooting, our students help their former teachers at the middle and elementary levels as well as create how-to scripts and videos for students, faculty and the Burlington community. Our students have not only helped within the BPS community, but have helped our Tech Team organize two major conferences in the past year..."

Beyond the student help desk, I think the trust of students in regards to access of social media sites and other apps and sites that can be used for non-educational purposes allowed our efforts to focus more on supporting educational uses of the technology. We did not go into this undertaking with a mindset of blocking and denying access.

We went into this with a mindset that we are preparing our students for life after school where they are going to have to know how to make choices about appropriate use of apps and sites that do not apply to their work. We felt strongly that the conversations that need to take place and the authentic experience of making choices about what to access and when to access it is not something that can be replicated with theoretical conversations.

As an organization, we do not feel we can have the type of learning and interactions between learners that we envision if our default reaction is that the individuals who inhabit our school will choose to do the wrong thing.

We trust teachers and we trust students. Then on the rare occasion that someone misuses that trust, we address the situation with that individual.  Should it happen any other way?

cross-posted at www.patrickmlarkin.com

Patrick Larkin is the Assistant Superintendent for Learning of Burlington Public Schools in Burlington, MA and the former principal of Burlington High. He blogs about education at www.patrickmlarkin.com.

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