As school leaders, we have the responsibility to structure systems within our school to provide the best support for our teachers’ professional growth, which in turn will result in our students’ academic growth. Structures are important, because they can provide the framework on which we can build one another up, develop and enhance our practice, and ultimately achieve our goals. The same is true in the eCLASS initiative – our journey to transform teaching and learning through effective student use of technology. Both research and practice have proven again and again that peers supporting peers is the most effective agent of growth and change. We are so fortunate to have a culture of collaboration and collegiality in Gwinnett that allows us to make the most of structures that promote peer-to-peer learning. We have fantastic teachers who want to learn from one another and grow together. Our teachers are willing to share their expertise with colleagues, and also willing to review and improve their own practices by relying on the expertise of others.
So, as leaders, we need to look at the structures we have in place. Are they optimizing the opportunities for modeling, collaboration, and growth? The diagram below identifies the structure that we have found to be most effective for growing teachers’ capacity in using technology with students.
There are teachers in every school who are the “experts” in using technology to increase student learning. Most likely, these experts, or innovators, are at every level – every grade, every department, every course team. When we allow these innovators the opportunity to collaborate, share practices and strategies and resources with one another, with the expectation that they then share with their colleagues at the course team or grade level, the transformation spreads. At the district level, we can then support that group of innovators by pouring directly into a “lead innovator.” Attending eCLASS Lead Innovator meetings and online sessions will give the lead innovator strategies to take back to your innovator group . . . continuing to feed their learning and work, as they then look to support their colleagues.
How fully is this structure in place in your school? Do you have at least one in innovator in every course team or grade level? Do those innovators have frequent opportunity to share ideas, strategies, tools, resources with one another? Do they have a forum (in collaborative planning, for instance) to help their grade level colleagues develop student activities that put technology in the hands of students to increase engagement and differentiation? Is this an ongoing cycle, a supported structure? If you can answer yes to every question, awesome! Keep supporting and monitoring, and watch the growth. If there are any questions that right now get a “no,” then that provides you with the next steps . . . how can you make a tweak in your school structure to get a “yes” to that question?