DAILY INSIGHT: School's out for summer

By Jon Castelhano, CIO Advisor

Willie Style
Who can forget when the Fresh Prince was throwin' down "summer, summer, summertime, time to sit back and unwind?" I am showing my age with that bit of information; that song was the first single on his Homebase album, released in May of 1991, nice play record studio. As educators, we all know that summertime doesn't afford much time to unwind. Although we try to sneak in a little time for "cool shootin' some b-ball outside the school," the down time is used in different way. Teachers are busy searching for new resources, building their PLNs, and planning for the upcoming school year, which is a full-time job. Tech staff is using this time to upgrade hardware, implement new software, and refresh thousands of devices before the new school year arrives. Frantic as it may seem, however, this may be the time to seek out new ways to collect resources, build your PLN, upgrade devices, and take a deep breath before the new school year arrives.

You're Not Alone
If you are a student, teacher, administrator, or techie, there are thousands of your same kind out there working on similar projects and looking to collaborate. So how about taking a little time this summer to connect with others, gather some great resources, and build your PLN by following other educators on Twitter? Twitter is arguably one of the best places online to gather educational ideas and resources. Follow people like Free For Teachers @rmbyrne, hashtag #chromebooks, or if iPads interest you, guru @tonyvincent! The great thing is, you don't have to work hard to find great educators to follow. Here is a list of educators that will get you started by content area/title; you can even add yourself after you create your Twitter account: http://goo.gl/k8U1Yc. If you would like to take it a step further and participate in a Twitter chat, follow this link for times and hashtags: http://goo.gl/9h74lg (thank you @MrsKim_Reynolds for sharing).

Change It Up
Summertime is also a chance to reflect on the traditional things that we seem to do when this time of year rolls around. Speaking from the technology side of the house, the first thought that comes to mind is re-imaging of devices. Spring always seems like the time when new images are being built for deployment, so the second the students and teachers are out the door, massive re-imaging starts taking place. Often, we can't avoid this type of scenario, and we will be doing our fair share of imaging this summer, but maybe there is a better way. Use this time to reflect on the processes and see how you can eliminate some of the lengthy projects that seem to take up most of those summer days that you could be focusing on other areas.

Another idea that is always refreshing during the summer months is the start of the day. When school is in session, start times are critical for providing good customer support. Summer can allow flexibility for your tech staff to start the day off in a different way. Use this time to have brief 15-30 minute sit downs to share how their summer projects are rolling along, collaborate on any issues that may be happening, and enjoy a nice ice coffee or smoothie to start the day!

Jon Castelhano is director of technology for Apache Junction USD in Arizona. This blog is cross posted on his blog, This and That.