As a teacher I always felt like a critical part of my job was to support my students in there learning. As a math teacher I felt like I got a disproportionate amount of moans and groans from students (and parents) when it came to mastering the wonderful world of mathematics. And unfortunately it didn’t matter if I was teaching, middle school, high school or at the college level my first encounter with students every year or semester was that of anxiety. I soon realized that I had to try and see what they were seeing in order to best understand their frustration. I would often times share with them the struggles that I too had in math at the college level. I tried to get them to understand that we all have those moments where we struggle and that if we worked together we could overcome this mountain called math.
Fast forward to this year where our district is facing a monumental task in preparing to deploy laptops to 1400 high school students and anther 1500 5th through 12th graders. And in this year of preparation we are asking teachers to begin the process of redesigning their instructional practices as we look to start utilizing a tool that will allow students to have access to the world around them 24 hours a day. The feeling of uncertainty from teachers is there. The moans and groans remind of those days as a classroom teacher. And like those students I truly think teachers want to learn math but they only know some of the past failures of introducing technology to students. They tend to want to dwell on the struggles as opposed to the possibilities. And then on top of this all you have principals who are in charge of leading these teachers into the unknown, not fully knowing what the future holds when it comes to classroom instruction, classroom management and just the overall task of managing all of these devices.
So what did I do? I made the principals uncomfortable. I made them as uncomfortable as I could possibly make them by blending my leadership using technology. We did this together for 30 straight instructional days. I called it 30 Days in Canvas. (I know, brilliant) I assigned them online tasks while incorporating face-to-face interactions. Discussions, quizzes, reflections and other learning opportunities similar to what a teacher might engage their students in during the semester. Why? Well it’s quite simple. I wanted them to better understand what their teachers would be going through as we began to blend our classrooms into engaging technology enriched learning spaces. I wanted to show them that it could be done. That we could transform the way we operate our meetings and conversations, blending some traditional concepts with new and innovative ways.
So the big question is did it work?
I got my answer the day a teacher said something like this,“You know the teachers in our building have really bought into this process. I think a big reason for that is that we see our principal right there learning with us.”