As Bill Gates said, “The pace of innovation today is faster than ever.” For schools, this means there are always new and improving ways to engage students in the classroom, but this pace of innovation can become overwhelming for schools. What technology is right for our school? Will the teachers want to use this? How will it impact learning?
Seventeen Technology Integrationists recently converged at Chapel Hill-Chauncy Hall School’s (CH-CH) Technology Unconference to discuss exactly these topics. Here are seven takeaways from the talks that you can put to use today and help your school keep up with the rapid pace of technology:
- Be kind, rewind, reflect – Utilize the “1, 2, 3 method of reflection.” Gather feedback one day after an event and debrief two weeks later in order to be far enough away to be able to discuss it objectively. Finally, three months later re-visit the event and make any changes so it even better the next time.
- Focus on one initiative at a time - Give yourself breathing room between initiatives. Throwing too many new things at your faculty at once inevitably causes initiative fatigue. Focus on one initiative at a time so that both you and your faculty can give it the attention it deserves. Putting the time and effort in making one initiative successful will instill a sense of confidence in your faculty and benefit future endeavors.
- Focus on your school’s mission and the impact on learning - Always focus on how new initiatives fit into school’s mission and vision. Your faculty will be far more likely to back a new initiative when they can clearly see how it will positively affect learning at your school.
- Remember to use your social network - You are not alone! Reach out to your fellow tech integrationists for advice, feedback, and validation. Don’t get stuck in your own bubble and take the time to learn about all of the amazing initiatives your peers have embarked in other schools. Sometimes a fresh take on a problem or issue you are having is all it takes to make a breakthrough.
- Learn from your teachers - Don’t get attached to specific apps or programs. Be open to trying to new ways of doing things, even if you are used to the status quo. Never forget, your faculty is a wealth of innovation and creativity and often the best ways of using technology come from those using it in the classroom every day.
- Stay focused on the solution - No matter what you do, you will face at least some resistance. It is important to stay positive. It is essential to be solution-oriented in your approach as more often than not your faculty wants to find a solution, but may not have the time or expertise to find it.
- Remember the importance of unplugging - Cindy Ludlam, Dean of Faculty at Chapel Hill-Chauncy Hall gave a presentation entitled “Wellness & Technology” at the unconference. She implores all teachers to be conscious of how technology can affect learning, stating that external technology can decrease awareness if we don’t balance it with our inner technology. As Nobel Laureate Herbert Simon said, “What information consumes is the attention of the recipients, hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.”
Jon Andruchow is an Academic Technology & Innovation Integrationist at the Chapel Hill-Chauncy Hall School in Waltham, Massachusetts. A graduate of Brown University, Jon has focused on the use of technology to empower both the teacher and student to think about learning in a different way. Learn more at www.chch.org.