So, I get the chance to address 49 Superintendents in Upstate NY on Thursday. I’ve got some ideas of what I plan to show them about the power and potential of the Read/Write Web, about what teachers and students are already doing, and about the obstacles that we need to begin having serious conversations about. But I’m wondering, if you had 90 minutes with this group, what one thing would you bring up/point to/challenge them with? What would be your most important message?
Chime in before Wednesday because I would love to point them to this post during my talk.
Kyle Brumbaugh says
I would challenge Administrators to use all of the ways that are available for them to connect to their constituencies. (parents, teachers and students) Blog after a Board meeting, find standards you want teachers to emphasize and blog about them. Have a video that you want teachers to see, post it for them to view, or better yet podcast it. The critical mass of the Web 2.0 revolution in education is going to happen when those in Administration embrace the tools of the revolution. Right now, the students are using the tools and it is bubbling up from the bottom. If Administrators started using Web 2.0 tool, the teachers and parents would be forced to do so by the squeezing of the top and bottom.
April Chamberlain says
I would definately address the issue of creating a strong support system in which to train teachers in the use of 21st Century Tools and have follow ups to reflect on their uses in the classroom. If teachers feel comfortable using these tools themselves and understand their educational value, then they are more likely to incorporate the tools in their classrooms. A need for communication between the IT staff and teachers who are trying to use the tools is also critical. How frustration to teachers to want to view a site at school only to learn that it is block. Teachers might give up and go back to the same old ways of teaching.
One of the issues with technology in my district has been that the support of the technology is lacking. Buying the hardware or finding the software is the easy part, getting to a level of comfortable integration/use is the difficult part. I would highly recommend that when bringing any ‘new’ technology to teachers, the training and support of the learning should be high up on the list of issues to address and provide.
I am a teacher, who trains other teachers in my building on the new programs from the district… not because I am paid, or given that job, but because no one else is there to do it. Our building has the most buy in for these programs because support is provided. The other buildings have a mediocre reception to the new software because no one steps up to provide the crucial day to day help when things become confusing.
You should ask the 49 superintendents how good they are about not mixing their apples and oranges. Are they prepared to open their minds without letting one single but, what-if, canâ€™t-be crop up in their minds for the next 90 minutes of your talk? Just listen and try to understand what you are proposing, and then, perhaps afterwards do some thinking about how they might embrace all the new possibilities.
This is all relatively new territory for al of us; the Read/Write web has evolved so rapidly and it has certainly not reached its potential in the world of education. So, the superintendents will need a fair amount of time and experience before they can start comparing past and present, advantages and disadvantages, motivating factors and deterrents… apple and oranges.
Mark Ahlness says
My message would only take a few seconds: If teachers and schools do not teach their students about safe and responsible use of the Internet – now, starting in elementary school – then those teachers and schools are being negligent. – Mark
my student blogs: http://roomtwelve.com
David Warlick says
I’d point out that our students are already there. I agree with Mark, that they owe it to their students to teach the safe and ethical use of the new information environment.
But I would go further and suggest that since our students have chosen this new web as a place to learn, play, socialize, push the envelope, etc.; that it will likely play an important part in their future endeavors.
Ignoring the new web ignores our mission to prepare children for their future. We must stop using our immigration status as an excuse, and start acting like natives. 😉
— dave —
Glenn E. Malone says
I’d mention that Friedman updated and expanded his book to reflect how quickly things change…
Flattener #4 Uploading
I also like that Pink and Friedman have referenced each other’s work.
School leaders need to see the hope that Flattener #4 brings to many of the NCLB requirements.
Darren Kuropatwa says
After you’ve talked to them about how blogs can be used as powerful educational tools, and followed up with some of the issues/dangers of blogging, ask them to imagine that they’ve decided to start a blogging experiment. Unfortunately, students begin to use profanity and post inappropriate content to the blog. How would they address it? Would thay have the courage of Karl Fisch and teachers like Kristen to discuss it with the students they way they did in the comments to this post?
Do they have the vision to see themselves and their teachers as 21st century educators; to see these sorts of “bumps in the night” as teachable moments?
(I found this post by following a link from Anne’s blog.)
Good luck on Wednesday. Looking forward to reading your blog about it. 😉
Jim Fergus says
As the leader of a strong hierarctic system, the most important goal for any superintendent would be to redesign their school’s structure to reflect and to utilize the creative power inherent in collaboration. Students and teachers need to be trained to use collaborative tools (blogs, web based collaborative software) which will put more value on their controbutions and will provide models and practice in skills that students will use in the future. The superintendents should lead rather than than just defend a system that is counterproductive to the goals of preparing students for the future.
Dean Shareski says
Will I’d deal with concepts based on the work of “Naked Conversations” and “Cluetrain Manifesto” The idea of transparency is important for leaders to understand. Using the Read/Write web as a way to leverage communication and understanding.
Play an excerpt from Tim Wilson and Steve Burt’s podcast from Chicago with the superintendents and board members who blog.
While the student angle is critical, focusing on what other superintendents are already doing is going to hit home most.
I’ll leave it to you about handling the. Hope you’ll record this.
dave cormier says
I would try to convince them that training is a lifelong process, and one that is better done in small chunks. Teachers need to be able to access small amounts of information and advice, when they need it.
Darren Kuropatwa says
Hmmm… Dave, it sounds like each school should have their own wiki. 😉
Ewan McIntosh says
I put my tardy reply down to the time difference and the DIY I’ve been attempting today – I made a bathroom wall. Yay!
My thoughts come from Robert Jones, a colleague from my own Local Authority. I think he sums it up incredibly well:
My school has an Internet use policy that says that pupils should never be given unsupervised access to the Internet. I expect all education authorities are the same. I agree with this wholeheartedly, but given this I see no need for filtering, or at the very least we should have a filtering system that can easily be switched off by a teacher for a particular IT suite at a particular time.
If our main priority is to cover our backsides against the risk of litigation, then massive, “if in doubt block it” style filtering is an excellent idea. But if our main priority is education, then we should always approach filtering from an “if in doubt, allow access” point of view, with appropriate safeguards in terms of teacher supervision.
Let’s face it. No filtering system is 100% effective. The presence of web filtering simply leads teachers to believe that it is safe to let pupils roam the web unsupervised, which is clearly a recipe for disaster.
I think this debate is related to the current Amnesty International campaign: http://irrepressible.info/”
Common sense, no?
Two things: 1. If we want to create lifelong learners, then we must model that ourselves.
2. That technology, in all its forms, is the tool of this generation as natural as a pen and clipboard were to us. We can not and should not turn back the clock otherwise the classroom may become obsolete. If not obsolete, it will turn off a generation of students (my own two high school students included.)
Kim C. says
Just one for me. Let your educators, not your IT staff, drive your purchases and policies when it comes to the proper use of technology in your school district. If technology in all its many guises is meant to be used for educational purposes, then for God’s sake let educators drive the train.
It may be hard for your audience to accept, but please try to make them understand that they cannot block the real world out of their schools. Their students need to graduate with a solid foundation of information literacy skills – how to search for, validate, organize, and use any and all information they encounter (including the bad stuff).
Of course, if you have to go for the practical, I like Kim C.’s idea. And then let me know how I convince our superintendent of the same thing! 🙂
Tom Hoffman says
I argee with Kim C. I’d add that a district’s filtering policy should be created through a public process. Also, I think talking in broad terms about educational philosophy with such a crowd is likely a waste of time.
Kim’s idea could work in some districts, but not all. My son’s high school English teacher told me that she doesn’t use email. If she doesn’t even use email, how we expect her to make technology decisions????
That THEY need to be using these tools too, and not just announcing at the September meeting that their teachers should begin using them. Without some level of participation by admins, I don’t think they can fully understand: the power of the tools, the resources & time needed to implement them, the roadblocks that may be present in their school or district.
Eric Langhorst says
I would challenge them to produce a monthly podcast for their building. It is a natural tool for them to communicate with the community and would be a great modeling for their teachers.
I agree with Kim C. No, not all of the teachers will have an idea about what technology to use but the ones that do are seemingly never asked. I would also encourage them to use these read/write web tools. But some of them really has little interest in technology themselves but do know that they can’t ignore the impact that technology is having in our society and kids. I would really encourage them that if they do not have the technical desire to get out there in Web 2.0 then to actively seek those in the district that do. If they are to lead then find others with a strong desire and give them more of a voice. As a teacher of a large school district, I am at the end the decision-making ladder and it is very frustrating to be told no..no…no…when many technology needs are not even understood by the adminstration.
Cheryl Oakes says
What an incredible opportunity you have! Superintendents need to have a vision but more importantly they need to live the vision. Instead of sending out a monthly newsletter, blog that newsletter. Be part of the conversations not just the paperboy(girl) delivering the news. This moment struck me at a recent school musical performance.
Our parents are capturing the moment through video cell phones and sending that moment over the airways. Shouldn’t we(educators) be doing the same things with all learning, not just performances?Good luck, I’ll be waiting for the reflections.
Paul Lawler says
Urge them to ask three questions when assessing investments in educational technology in their district
1. How does this engage my teachers?
2. How does this contribute to the bottom line of student performance in my schools?
3. Would I be comfortable using this technology myself, every day?
Technology has contributed to a quantum leap in productivity and quality in other “industries” but technology itself did not do it. Real human beings apply this stuff. If any of it is going to work in education, the assessment must always be made with a human being in mind.
Christopher Harris says
Please share with the superintendents the importance of school libraries. Not only is there a wealth of research showing the efficacy of well-funded – i.e. above the $6/student provided by NY state (especially since NY state provides $9/inmate to prison libraries!) – and well-staffed – i.e. certified teacher librarians in EVERY library – libraries. You might refer them to a Scholastic publication, School Libraries Work! that summarizes the research. http://www.scholastic.com/librarians/printables/downloads/slw_2006.pdf
When we are talking about online and digital and resources, as many of the other commentors here are, what we are talking about is really information. Information literacy, and more importantly digital information literacy, is the key skill for global learners and performers. AASL (American Association of School Librarians) defined 9 standards for information literacy in their book Information Power. Those standards are centered in 3 strands: Information Literacy, Independant Learning, and Social Responsbility. That seems to sum up most of what has been covered here…and, guess what? It is already happening in the superintendent’s libraries if they have a highly qualified, certified, teacher librarian with an adaquate budget and support.
Anne Davis says
Give them this summer assignment: Spend the summer reading educational blogs and then comment on the postings. Be a part of the conversations. Learn from them and then think possiblilities for their school system and beyond. Teach them bloglines so they can see how easily posts can be read. After they have spent some time reading and learning, then encourage them to create their own blogs and share their visions for our students for the future. Welcome teachers, parents and students to join the conversations. Comment on each others blogs. Read, think, learn, reflect! Send them over to Nancy McKeand’s blog to this post: http://namckeand.blogspot.com/2006/03/and-yet-another-favor-to-ask.html
to see how educators answered the question about why they blog with their students. Tell them to make their first blog about that post – their thoughts and reactions. Make this summer one where they invest in their students’ future. Seize the time!
The one thing I would challenge them with… hmmm…
I think I would challenge them to have an open-mind:
To actually look at Web 2.0 tools and how they are being used in the classroom before they decide they need to be blocked
To try it themselves – read some blogs and comment, look at some educational wikis, and listen to some podcasts
To think about why our students are so drawn to these sites and new technologies
To have the courage and foresight to actually support the teachers who are innovative and incorporate these technologies in their classrooms
To look beyond the standardized tests and think about what their students really need to know in the 21st century
Well, that would definitely be a start. 🙂
Susan Brooks-Young says
I see you’re getting inundated here, Will. Covering just one-half of the suggestions would turn this into a week-long retreat, but I can’t resist adding something no one has mentioned directly.
Remind the superintendents about the importance of talking with their students. Kids begin disengaging from school in second and third grade, which makes it even easier for them to bolt when they get to high school. All educators, from the superintendent on down need to talk with, and listen to, the kids. They may not like everything they hear, but I think that overall they’ll be surprised at the ideas and feelings they have. An added bonus will be that when kids feel that their opinions are listened to and respected, they tend to hang in there with us longer.
Karl Fisch says
I know you’ll be able to handle the technology and educational implications of the Read/Write Web just fine. So instead of focusing on a tech piece, I would have to second what Susan said about listening to the students. The one thing I would remind them is that it’s the students’ education, not ours. Too often we all lose sight of that and if we can maintain that focus – and listen to our “customers” – we will be a whole lot more successful. The more we can involve our students in their own education, the more engaged they are, the more we really try to meet their needs, the better job we’ll all do. Instead of trying to prepare our students for what the world looked like when we were 18, let’s try to prepare them for what the world is going to look like when they’re our age (as best we can, of course).
Brian Crosby says
Ask them if kids knew what quills were and how to use them before their parents, teachers or superintendent did? Slates? Pencils? Overheads? Word processors?… you get it.
Now post for them to see: Blogs, MySpace, Flickr, Skype, digital video… you know the list. Now ask them who knows more about what they are and how to use them and then how use them effectively and ethically – Teachers? Superintendents? Parents? or STUDENTS?
Learning is messy!
Jody Hayes says
I don’t think I’d say anything beyond “Here is my class of Year One (Grade One) students who are beginning their at school literacy experience. They blog … listen to them tell you about it!” Then I’d hand over to my lovely little people, they get it, they are five, they can explain it in real simple terms – blogging is not too hard, too scary, too difficult, … it is powerful, a tool for convesation – my little people would RAVE about how they ‘talk’ to other children in Canada and we are in New Zealand.
Amy Perry-DelCorvo says
Will’s delivery was top-notch and the message hit home with many of the Superintendents in the audience today. Chris Lehmann’s words were incredibly powerful and the message truly hit home. I truly think a difference was made today.
Clark Godshall says
As one of the Superintendents in the audience, I heard many of the above listed comments. The messages hit home and will have a significat impact on what we do. I know I will be sharing many on opening day in September and in my meetings with the Commissioner of Education in NY.