To begin, we held a meeting for tech direction, which I previously discussed in this blog posting, and there seemed to be a bit of resistance toward the idea of "more tech stuff." The money that our PAC is graciously donating to the project is specified for tech, so I came back to staff with some options: do we replace a computer lab or do we take the leap into the world of iPads?
Now, if you follow me on Twitter or my blog, you know what my answer is: iPads all the way. But some of the teaching staff at GGE immediately had a few concerns at the delivery of this suggestion. One of the people pushing back gave me something to think about - What if iPads are a fad?
This teacher went on to explain that she's seen things come in and out of education over the past 20 years. Math programs, reading programs, manipulatives, learning tools... fair enough. Her argument was that a school continually invests thousands of dollars into things that may not eventually be used. So are we getting the best bang for our buck?
To this I replied that iPads may be a fad, but the Internet isn't. Even if you just scratch the surface at elementary stuff like emails and file-sharing, you should be able to convince any traditional educator that the Internet plays a substantial role in our ability to communicate, to work, and most importantly, to LEARN in the 21st century.
After the meeting, I let everyone cool down and think about it for a week. I made a choice to speak with each staff member individually to see what they had to say about the situation and vote for their preferred choice of technology. This is where things got interesting for me. There were SO MANY voices that weren't heard in that initial meeting!!! The conversations I was privileged to have with my colleagues were eye-opening and enriched. Some of their commentary on the possibilities that tech can provide kids just made me want to thrust an iPad into their wondering hands. The funny thing was that even though there seemed to be so much resistance to the thought of iPads initially, about 95% of our staff ended up voting for iPads rather than a computer lab!!! And it's not like I was going in with a sales pitch - just a conversation.
This process taught me something important. In tech administration, pursuing these progressive conversations with each staff member is imperative to make them feel supported and included. It is extremely easy in this job to support only the people who ask for it or to target specific individuals who need to get off the ground. Teachers from each level of tech-ability gave me things to consider as we move forward with our 5-year plan and I loved the collaborative input throughout this process. The next step is getting a class set of iPads into the hands of our kids.