Friday, December 3, 2010

"It's OK, we don't need you."

This afternoon I was skyping with a teacher who had come into contact with me through reading my blog. He talked about how he was at the beginning of integrating IT into the curriculum and he wanted to discuss how he should move forward at his school with someone who was further along this journey.  We talked about how technology should be seen as a tool and that the focus should be on the learning, not the tool.  We discussed how we have moved to a flexible schedule here so that the IT is used in an authentic way, rather than using it because it is scheduled for 45 minutes a week.  We talked about how important it was to give students and teachers a choice.  He was the 3rd person who had contacted me this week as a result of reading about all the good things we are doing in our ICTL programme at school on my blog - and one of these teachers even came for a visit on Wednesday to shadow me for the day.

Right after that skype call I went up to the Grade 3 area.  All these students have been introduced to either Prezi or Spicy Nodes which they are using to create prompts for their oral presentations about natural and man-made disasters.  The students had already had a practice session where they learnt how to use these tools, but now they were working with them independently for their summative assessment.  I know a couple of the teachers were a little nervous, as these tools were new to them too and they were wondering how successfully the students would use them to show their understanding (In previous years these classes had used PowerPoint and I think the teachers were a little nervous that with these other tools being so recently introduced some students may have found the technology got in the way of showing what they knew - I, however, was very confident that this would not be the case and that we would finally have buried PowerPoint forever!)

Even before going up to the Grade 3 area, I had a quick look online to see that all students had managed to create new presentations and were adding onto them.  One of the first things I noticed was that two students had managed to discover for themselves how to embed a movie into Spicy Nodes - this was something I hadn't covered in class, though I had shown them how to add images.

When I walked into the first 3rd Grade room and told them I'd come to see how they were doing and to help anyone having difficulties, the immediate reaction from the teacher was "It's OK, we don't need you." How amazing it was to hear that!  This showed me that the students and teacher were comfortable and confident using the tools - and were in fact using them very independently.  I therefore moved on quickly to the next class.  There I was greeted by the class teacher asking if she could book some sessions next week to take her students to the lab to work.  I started to look at my schedule to see when I was available and again I was met with "Oh, it's OK, I just need a lab, I don't need you. I can do this myself."  In fact during the entire rest of the afternoon, and out of the 60 students I came across in the Grade 3 area only 2 of them needed my help (and they independently came to find me to ask for it).  With afternoons like this I feel like I am succeeding as an ICTL teacher in handing over the technology to the class teachers and the students.

Earlier this week I was discussing with a colleague my role as ICTL team leader.  We also talked about the importance of professional and ethical behaviour for anyone in a leadership role.  As I reflect back on my week I feel that I am taking my new position of responsibility very seriously and always attempt to serve it with the highest level of professional integrity and ethical behaviour.  I feel this is evidenced by the fact that there has been a complete transformation in the way teachers view and use IT to support teaching and learning over the past year.

I love the support I am getting from my colleagues and others around the world who are reading my blog.  I love, in turn, being able to support these teachers in developing IT policies and I have been excited to hear of ways my posts have been used during their school professional development.  I love the fact that I am now able to focus more on pushing the programme forward, rather than just teaching IT skills and dealing with technical problems, and I love it that because the teachers have had the right support this year, they are now more confident and that there are many sessions where they no longer need me.

With a tech transformation of this nature, some people have asked me if I worry about working myself out of a job.  Actually I never do.  I'm happy to hand over parts of my old job to the class teachers to do for themselves and I'm always looking forward to new and different ways that I can move forward myself.  I have lots of ideas about things I can do that will have an impact on other areas of education and I'm excited to know that there are more and more people who are wanting to "jump onto the bus" and who are interested in helping me and supporting me in my own learning journey.

Photo credit:  Are you always gonna be there when I grow up?  by Mouin M.

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