Be Careful of the Shiny New Tech Tools as You Start the School Year.

I will admit it-I like shiny new things.  I have always loved the Back to School time of year.  Buying my new school agenda (thanks Amber Teamann for sharing Erin Condren with me this year), creating the school year calendar in my office and that sense of a fresh start is exciting for me.  

Keeping that energy without going overboard is a skill I continue to refine.  As an educator or a school leader it is hard not to jump in with both feet with the incredible new technology out in education.  However laying a solid, firm and intentional foundation is key to ensuring that you will have the stamina to keep up with the goals you set in September, when you are reflecting on your success in May.

What is Your focus?  

Over the summer I have been asked in multiple settings how to get a coding club, Makerspace, or other tech initiative started.  When I asked the question “What are your goals with implementing this technology?” the response is vague or more often ‘I don’t know-I have just heard a lot about it’.  While thinking about how to respond to these questions I draw from the following leaders and authors that have laid a solid path for educators and leaders to follow.

  • In Learning Transformed Eric Sheninger and Thomas Murray have a mantra woven into the book “Learning First, Technology Second”.  This resource has incredible ideas and multiple frameworks for systematic implementation at a district, school and classroom level.  Along with the Future Ready website I have ways that help me to stay purposeful with creating a school everyone wants to run into everyday.
  • Brad Gustafson speaks in depth about the importance of a precise pedagogy in Renegade Leadership. His Renegade Code is a visual reminder about the importance of being intentional in everything we do for staff and students.  
  • Dr. Bill Ziegler offers practice advice and connects with educators and leaders on the importance of a focused implementation of innovative educational change in his book Future Focused Leaders. Each chapter digs into the what, how and why of learning and leading in schools today.

Where is Your Target?

Before you start-do you know where you want to end?  Now that doesn’t mean you have to have detailed lesson plans set for the entire year, but as Franklin Covey says, “What is your end in mind?” When started the #PackInTrain coding club two years ago my target was to offer students exposure to the foundational vocabulary of coding and computational thinking while demonstrating the use of technology in the early grades.  Was my mission accomplished?  Yes.  

Don’t Be Afraid.  

With a focus and target in mind please note-it is okay to go back to the drawing board at anytime.  Leading with innovation in mind means you don’t have all the answers before you start.  Teaching coding club gives me ample time to reflect on how each lesson went, what I would do differently and how well students could identify learning targets.  Did I end up finding additional uses and intentional ways to amplify student voice and learning-yes.  But only because I tried  something that hadn’t been done before and was willing to be responsive to the student outcomes that were produced.  

Don’t Have Focus Amnesia.

Just because you are upon a new school year-don’t forget to look back at what you worked towards last year.  In our school we have worked as a leadership team to find funds, allocate staffing and create a schedule for our Innovation Coach position in our school.  This year we are going to implemented this plan…two years in the making.  

So as you are out buying school supplies, getting ready for back to school conferences, and kicking off the new school year ask yourself:

“What is the one thing I will do this year to amplify and innovate learning?”

……and then do it well.

Keep Dreaming Big for Our *Littlest* Learners,

*at any age we can always learn something new*




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