Our Institute work involves close collaboration among the school/district/state stakeholders and the OTO team. Initial conversations are of utmost importance. They forge trusting rapport, direct and honest discussion of, at times, sensitive topics, aimed at garnering understanding of goals, gaps and needs. Emergence of the latter guide strategy and scope of work. Often we discover the lack of a systemic approach, definition of vision, purpose, human and technical infrastructure and sustainability/scale plans. But sometimes we find the system is well-oiled. Key foundations are in place. Leadership is solid and distributed.
We talked yesterday with a district poised for a successful 1:1 implementation. I reflected on ‘why’ I came away feeling confident that they will succeed. Here are a few reasons.
- The superintendent and his cabinet strongly support and lead the effort. They have empowered other administrators, central office staff, principals and teachers to lead with them. Each has decision-making power but are expected to work together toward the district strategic plan goals.
- The strategic plan is systemic. All aspects of the district are incorporated and integrated into goals and expected outcomes. It includes language about transformative teaching and learning without the need to call out the 1:1 approach. The latter is embedded. Stakeholders understand the language to include robust technologies. It is part of the tapestry of how they do school.
- Onsite information technology specialists are designated for each school. Their role is to serve peers through communities of learning, professional learning opportunities, sharing of resources, modeling, observing and being crucial to teachers’ professional growth in the digital conversion.
- Strong communications exist among stakeholder groups.
- Eleven school sites are identified and engaged as ‘first out’ in the 1:1 implementation. Resources and a variety of supports are provided to these schools. They will be proofs of concept, showcase demonstration sites for when the program scales.
- A sustainable budget for scaling out the program is in place.
- Curriculum and instruction lead and specialists are engaged at the top level. They are collaboratively developing a professional learning model with district leaders and teachers.
- Device selection will be guided by district technology leaders with input from school leaders. The selection will be determined based on the kinds of learning activities and outcomes desired for levels/grades. The selection will also be driven by the district’s ability to provide agile support across the district.
- Program leaders seek guidance and support from experts. They won’t waste time reinventing the wheel.
- Program leaders understand the importance of having a project manager who will keep the program on track, connect the dots, and help with accountability of those charged with specific tasks within the project.
It was our delight to talk with these educators and witness the substance and strength of the groundwork they have laid. We look forward to continuing the conversation.