How Leaders Can Support Teachers in Using Technology for Our Youngest Learners. #NAESP2016 #ISTE2016

Taking a page from George Curous’ book “Innovators Mindset” I took and Uber ride into Washington DC.  My driver and I were talking about what I do which led into her sharing about her 5 year old daughter.  She mentioned that her daughter can spell 4 letter words-like the word ‘free’ because she can only download free apps on mom’s phone.  

Like it or not-technology is a force that we can use for such great things-even at the preK-K level.  As leaders of schools we have the opportunity to create a mindset of providing opportunities for integration of technology that is meaningful, relevant and developmentally appropriate.  In our journey with blending technology into learning the following steps below can help start (or continue) this conversation.

Create a Vision-“How will your school support incorporating technology in learning?”

Build Buy In.

  • Have staff attend conferences, connect with others on social media.
  • Define common terms so all teachers have foundational understanding of what and how to integrate technology into the school day.
  • Utilize the Three C’s: Content, Context and the Individual Child (Lisa’s Guernsey)

For those of us who didn’t grow up with these tools they can be intimidating for educators.  Providing differentiated learning opportunities that meet the needs of all educators are critical.  I provided teachers opportunities to attend State/National conferences, connect with other professionals via Twitter/Social Media with the requirement that they come back and share their learning in whatever format most comfortable for them.  Many teachers opt to provide informal networking-but the biggest impact has been word of mouth.  Teachers who have disclosed their ‘fear’ of technology came back from the Minnesota STEM conference more confident and with strong connections for the need to embed technology into daily instructional goals.  

Support Families:  “How can you provide information to families on role and relationships technology can play in their lives?”.  

  • Blogging PackersInTraining
  • Twitter #WoodsonK #Packintrain  
  • Videos highlighting the work occurring in school and how to support at home. 

We found that our families responded much quicker to Facebook posts than traditional forms of communication.  Armed with that knowledge we created a blog that links directly to our Facebook page.  During the summer parents are notified of new videos that demonstrate activities that they can do at home to support Kindergarten Readiness while getting to ‘see’ teachers and paraprofessionals before the school year starts.  The videos average 200-300 views which continues to prove to be a successful platform for sharing information with families.  During the year I interview parents and students on relevant topics and push out in a monthly video as additional opportunities for families to stay engaged with their school-on their own time and in their own space.  

Connect and Share Resources from Other Leaders:  “In what ways can you develop or grow a network (aka a Tribe).  

  • Twitter
  • #to watch
  • Voxer
  • Blogs to follow

If you are new to social media-start small.  I first started with connecting on Twitter and then moved to Voxer.  I now have a group of principals and tech integrationists with a similar passion for early learners that I can ask questions and share ideas with on a daily basis.  Their are a number of blogs and resources out as well that can guide you in parts of the journey.  

Model Risk Taking:  “How do you find ways to take risks as a leaders?”

  • Facilitate professional development for staff embedding tech opportunities to extend current experiences.
  • Jump ALL IN with an initiative.  

Choose one thing that you feel comfortable leading and start from that point.  At Woodson we built a Lego Wall in our play centers an offered ‘PD in PJs’ during an early release so teachers could have hands on opportunities with the following tools:  Legos, Hour of Code (code.org), BeeBot, Sphero and Osmo.  After that experience I asked teachers to identified (2) students per class that I could have for the weekly Coding Club I started in February.  Each week I wrote up lesson plans and posted them on our blog as well as linked to Twitter #PackInTrain and our Remind account for families.  I held the class during times of the day that teachers could come in and observe and work through challenges with the students.  Tools are available during the rest of the week for check out and use in the classroom-or for teachers to take home to develop their confidence in using the tech tools.  

Take the jump-there is learning in the fall-I promise.

Keep dreaming BIG for our LITTLEST learners,

Jessica

   
    
    
    
    
    
    
   

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