Greetings, part 1 of this week’s blog asked us to look at the leadership principles present within Sun West’s and Regina Catholic’s approach to ed-tech.
If we’re basing these off of the leadership principles covered in unit 2 of the course, then there are a few present in both approaches. For starters, both divisions developed a “sense of responsibility in their workers” and had their employees “set the example”. The fact that the “Connected Educators” in Regina Catholic were willing to take summer PD shows that they were passionate about the project. In addition, these teachers were also willing to be mentors to future members. They took responsibility for the success, both present, and future of the project.
Teachers in both divisions also spent a lot of time seeking self-improvement and training as a team. This was accomplished in Regina Catholic partly through summertime PD. Teachers often talk the talk when it comes to self-improvement but these teachers actually went out and did it. Not only that but they did it during a teacher’s most precious time of the year!
Teachers in Sun West meanwhile spent ample time training as a team. It was mentioned by Guy Tetrault around the 14-minute mark of his podcast interview that “there are pockets of innovation everywhere and that “every school system has teachers that are doing extraordinary things but the problem is that they’re only in pockets”. He went on to say that what Sun West wanted to do was to bring those pockets together by scaling out (getting pockets of excellence working collaboratively together so that it goes around to all of the schools in the division) and by scaling up (taking it through the entire division and ensuring that everyone is on board and going forward). It was obvious through his interview that he understood the importance of teacher collaboration – something that I wish we had more time for. The best PD sessions that I’ve attended have been the ones where the focus is on the exchanging of resources and ideas. Unfortunately, the time allotted for these types of sessions has been fairly limited.
In addition, all of this was accomplished through a “creative leadership style”. Bart Cote mentioned that they (Regina Catholic) needed to find opportunities within the existing system to make change. It’s all well and good to hide behind the excuse of “we don’t have the necessary $$$ or time to accomplish this” but these people actually went out and made change happen within the parameters of the existing system. This just goes to show that, even though a lack of resources can make change difficult, it’s not impossible.
For part 2 of this week’s blog, I wanted to look at the following image and explain why it shows what is wrong with ed tech at the division level.
The first time I saw this picture was actually a few years in poster form in our computer lab at Martin. I actually recall being a bit disheartened when I first glanced at it because I felt like I was largely giving the “wrong answers”. Sure, I was integrating tech but it seemed like a lot of what I was doing was integrating tech just for the sake of integrating tech. Now, I don’t think that that’s necessarily a bad thing. Part of developing a “21st-century skillset” is being able to create many of things listed underneath “wrong answers” and, as was mentioned via the swimming pool metaphor (see below) in the Bart Cote interview, we can’t spend ALL of our time in the deep-end (redefinition) because we’ll drown in technology.
Where I see my school division (Regina Public) having success is in the Substitution and Augmentation stages of the SAMR model. We have access to a wide variety of technology that, depending on the situation can potentially act as a “direct substitute with functional improvement”. What the division isn’t doing as well is actually taking the tech that we have and helping teachers take it to that modification/redefinition stage that would allow us to provide the “right answers” that are listed in the poster above.
The situation in Regina Public seems quite similar to the one that existed in Sun West prior to their technology shift – there are teachers that are doing extraordinary things but the problem is that they’re only in pockets. At the moment, there doesn’t appear to be a concerted effort to get the most out of the tech that we have access to nor have there been many meaningful conversations surrounding the fundamental purpose of ed tech. Like Krista said in her blog, “focus on Edtech (at the school division level) has fallen to the bottom of the list (of division priorities)”. As a result, it has been left to the teachers to figure out and maybe, if they’re lucky, they’ll stumble across something truly innovative. Once again, all one has to do is visit the “technology in teaching and learning” section on the Regina Public website to see what the lack of a coordinated strategy looks like.
Until more time is spent having discussions surrounding ed tech, most teachers are going to have the “wrong answers” with a few pockets of teachers having the “right answers”.