Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Perspectives of Education Reform: Life as a Student, Teacher, and Administrator.

In the last decade, I've seen the education world through four different lenses: as a student, a teacher, an administrator, and (now) from a policy world.

When I was a student, I thought the world could be changed if we had more engaging teachers.

When I was a teacher, I thought the world could be changed if we had more support from administrative leadership.

When I was an administrator, I thought the world could be changed if we had more resources or policy support.

The rest of the blog post explores my journey through each of those roles, and the little bit of perspective that I've gained.


I used to hate school. With the exception of a few classes, most of my memories involved me sitting in a wooden desk in a strict row, staring out the window or sketching figures on a piece of paper, waiting for the bell to ring. It wasn’t that I hated learning; in fact, it was the exact opposite! I loved learning new skills and having new experiences, and I often felt like I was being stifled in a one-size-fits-all environment.

I often felt like my real education started when I arrived home. I would spend all of my free time at the library and traipsing around the house, asking my parents to teach me what they had learned. I watched my dad teach himself home remodeling, photography, and a variety of other hobbies through his own self-prescribed curriculum of online videos- and I became enraptured by the opportunities that the Internet was able to provide.

When I was in the sixth grade, I was asked to write a career paper- and fueled by this hatred for a traditional education, I told my teacher I wanted to be a public speaker for school choice. Luckily, she didn’t take my brazen statement offensively, and she gave me the opportunity to research some of the complex issues surrounding the public school system. I modified my dream job to being a public speaker for school reform... and ten years later, I decided to take the first step of working towards that dream job by being the first person in my family to graduate from college- and with a teaching certificate.

I thought that I could take that teaching certificate into a classroom and build an environment where students felt inspired to love learning again. I also thought that I could use technology to do that.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Technology Integration: A Vision, Framework, & Strategy

I very recently was given the opportunity to present the technology integration work I was a part of in the Kettle Moraine School District. The video below shows the presentation I gave at both the Wisconsin D.P.I presentation at the Wisconsin S.L.A.T.E. Conference and for a CESA 1 P.A.C. meeting for the superintendents of southeast Wisconsin.

In the last year and a half, I was given the awesome opportunity to hold a leadership position within a school district of nine public schools and public charter schools. My charge was to drive technology adoption within the district, and this goal eventually became concrete in our district technology plan and in a collaborative project titled "Ed Tech Challenge". We started by building a cohesive vision of technology use (that stemmed from instructional strategies), built a framework (for the roles that different district leadership teams held), and then worked on a strategy (for how to drive adoption and support teachers).

The video below shows those three concepts- the vision, the framework, and the strategy that was eventually implemented in my school district. I'm really proud of the work that we did- both within my school district and within the collaborative community that was a part of this work. I'm excited to say that our framework has started to be implemented in multiple school districts, and over one hundred districts have requested our resources pre-launch. I really hope that the lessons we learned in the creation of this project end up being useful to other district leadership teams!

Without further ado, here's the video! I've provided an outline and the actual presentation below as well!

-Technology does not engage students; great lessons engage students
-Technology should only be used when it increases efficiency and/or effectiveness

-Instructional technology expectations must be driven by instructional experts
-Technology services must be aligned with instructional goals and district needs

-Resistance to change occurs only when barriers are present
-The most effective way to encourage change is by eliminating those barriers