Sunday, January 26, 2014

Get In the Game

The Fairview, Sixth Grade #iPadAcademy team had the opportunity to meet with The Brent Catlett today about integrating technology across the curriculum.  He is our tech coach for #iPadAcademy endeavor and as we visited with him I drew on my many, many years of playing sports and drew many parallels.  Before I get into the importance of a coaching model, I think it is important for you to understand what kind of person, Brent is.

Brent is a great listener.  He has mastered the art of hearing his colleagues.  It is evident that he is listening, analyzing and deciding how he can respond to what is being said.  Even if you say something seemingly silly, Cat can take what you said and turn it into a bright idea.  He is also an "action" type of guy.  He is not one to sit on his laurels and watch the action; he is in the middle of the action.  Along with that, he empowers his colleagues to do more and "get in the game."  Brent is positive and leads by example.  All of these things are attributes that make him a coach that implores his team to do more, but does so without making them feel inferior.

Like Brent, Jenny K. and Ann (the other two tech coaches) bring the same contagious enthusiasm to the #iPadAcademy.  While they are not assigned to Fairview as official coaches, they have made it quite clear that they are available to help coach us anytime.

The coaching model that Bellevue Public School's Technology department has started is already proving to be invaluable.  I have only had my classroom set of iPads for a little short of a week and Brent has already been in to instruct, support and encourage me and my students.  It is not only technical support he is providing, but also moral support to empower me and my colleagues to try new things and work hard to make a difference with the technology we have been given.

I truly believe if BPS hadn't invested in training and coaching, my transition to a 1:1 classroom would not be as smooth as it has been.  I feel confident now, which is a far cry from where I was after the initial excitement settled.  Without coaching and professional development the prospect of using these amazing technology tools is far too ambiguous.

Its like fall practice for basketball.  Teachers are learning through the initial professional development to have tools in our toolboxes to be able to someday go 1:1.  Just like basketball, the more you work out, the more you are anxious to see how far you've come when you start playing against others.  Apple Foundations Training did what it claims to do; it gives you a solid foundation and conditions you to be ready to get in the game!

After AFT (our PD) we were able to apply to have a class set of iPads.  This was like try-outs.  You have the same type of nerves and try not to get too excited, as you don't want to set yourself up for disappointment.  It is only after you get the notification that you "made the team" that you can celebrate, but that is short-lived when you realize the amount of hard work, practice if you will, you must put in to be a game changer.

The big game finally comes and your hard work and the work of your coaches is now going to be on display.  The awesome thing with BPS is that you aren't playing the game alone.  You have an amazing coach, your AFT trainers, and a cohort of #iPadAcademy members to learn and grow from.  Bellevue has found a way to set everyone that gets into the #iPadAcademy up for success.  Although I know there will be struggles and set-backs, but I also am confident in the fourth quarter that we will be ahead.  

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Welcome to a 1:1 Classroom.

Hi!  My name is Tori Parde and I am a sixth grade teacher at Fairview Elementary in Bellevue, Nebraska.  I am excited to start a blog to help share my thoughts and ideas, as well as, learn from the many educators I admire.

Another reason I began to chronicle my work was the announcement that I would be receiving iPads to use in my classroom.  My excitement for the iPads and the implications to help my students connect to a global society was overflowing.  I couldn't wait to tell my husband, mom & dad, sisters and anyone else I thought would give me an inkling of excitement!

My initial euphoric joy was tempered by the many tweeted and online educational articles that seemingly outlined big mistakes educators make with iPads (or other technology) in their classroom.
"Oh . . . .no!  What if I am someone who fails and makes endless mistakes with the technology?  Was I adequate to receive such an honor and responsibility?"  The fear of failure was slowly creeping in like the black vine that consumes the castle in a scary fairytale.  My mind went to everything I could do wrong, despite my confidence with Apple products and the extensive training BPS has given me.

....and so I thought, I wonder why we do that?  Good teachers, well-trained teachers, educators who truly do what is best for students, sometimes doubt the positive impact they will have on their students.  I feel that educators care so deeply about student learning that they fear failing on any level because, in their mind, that implies that they have let their classroom community down.

So, where am I at now?  I am excited to get my classroom set of iPad Airs and make a difference with my students!  Instead of ignoring the fear, I read and educated myself about the many things educators have done wrong, but also about the many things they have done right.  I also told myself that it is not only okay to make mistakes, but realize I will make mistakes.  It is not about the mistake, it will be about how I grow, learn, and respond to the mistakes I make.  After having a positive and realistic outlook on how I am going to implement the use of iPads in my classroom, I feel I am better prepared to help my students become connected students who learn, grow, produce, and make a difference.