Leadership Lean-In November

Written by Dot Schoeller, eCLASS Mentor

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As the instructional leader in your building, you may have been looking at your eCLASS usage and wondering where to begin. As I faced the exact same dilemma, I recognized that I was not an eCLASS user and did not truly understand the power of the tool and how it can transform classroom instruction to increase student achievement. Three strategies I used in order to get my school started down the path of transformational teaching with technology are briefly described in this article.

First, to begin the journey, I did not want to add any more work to my teachers’ already full plate. We began by examining the AKS they were already planning to teach along with the technology they were incorporating, and plotted it on the TIM matrix during their collaborative planning session with the help of our LSTC. During the next session, each grade level looked at the chart to see what other grade levels were doing and then collaboratively discussed how to improve one lesson on their grade level. By starting with one lesson at a time, teachers were able to string together several lessons over the course of a semester until they were consistently creating lessons that were much more transformational at the end of the year than they were at the beginning of the year. We began the second year with a blank chart and teachers decided in August what lessons they were committed to transform in the first semester.

Secondly, during the January staff development day, we did a “Teacher Carousel” that was facilitated by the LSTC and one lead innovator from each grade level. These teachers and the LSTC planned a 20 minute grade-level showcase intended to highlight tools the grade level was using with students to increase student engagement and help teachers with differentiation. The LSTC ensured that each grade level showcased different tools so we didn’t have 6 sessions of “Kahoot! “ Each grade level started in their own rooms and then rotated until they visited all six elementary grade levels. At the end they debriefed together about tools and strategies they learned and how they could implement them during the next semester. This was one of the most effective staff developments we ever had and really moved our school forward. The teachers not only loved learning from each other, but it also supported the evaluation system with teachers wanting to “lead and guide others” in order to be exemplary on their evaluations.

Lastly, during this entire process, I used the personal motto, “Feed the race horses.”  Basically, using this philosophy means that whenever I had extra money to purchase additional technology or send someone to a conference, I would go after those lead innovators who are “pulling the wagon” for the school and helping transform lessons.  The overall result of feeding the race horses was that not only did they continue to improve in their instructional and leadership roles, but also their colleagues began to witness the powerful effects of their work and re-examined and retooled their own practices.

Looking at integrating technology can be a daunting task. But just taking a first step will help move your school along. Begin with those who are willing and ask them to bring along one more person. Soon you will be multiplying leaders in your building. Start small with one lesson. If you can string together lots of lessons, you will transform a classroom. If you can string along lots of classrooms, you can transform your entire school.