Planting Seeds - #BYOT Leadership Reflections

Image Source: http://goo.gl/bY0Uf
While reading How Leadership Can Make or Break Classroom Innovation, I found myself reflecting about some key ideas in this excerpt below:
“A teacher may say that if we let students bring cell phones to school they going to use it to cheat or bully one another.” Williams’ response? Kids are going to bring devices whether they are allowed to or not, and if it’s allowed teachers can guide them. Classroom management problems are always going to exist, so let’s not blame that on the devices, he said. 
Williams has also been sure to provide a lot of professional development around technology so that teachers feel comfortable using the unfamiliar tools. The district also created a private cloud-based network for staff and students to access from both home and school. “This is huge because it really is an example of breaking down barriers of space and time to access learning,” Williams said.
Obviously, I found myself highlighting two key points in the article--that human beings are going to bring devices into schools and that we shouldn't blame classroom management problems on devices. Don't we want the opportunity to guide students and staff in the appropriate use of these devices? Rather than prohibiting, we encourage use in certain ways. It's tempting to be critical of how others use technology or manage their classroom, but we have to find a way to praise the positive and create a culture that drives behaviors that build habits that become powerful, lifelong changes.

The Inner Game of Tennis comes to mind. It's a book I read when in college for a class but the ideas have stuck with me:
“When we plant a rose seed in the earth, we notice that it is small, but we do not criticize it as "rootless and stemless." We treat it as a seed, giving it the water and nourishment required of a seed. When it first shoots up out of the earth, we don't condemn it as immature and underdeveloped; nor do we criticize the buds for not being open when they appear. We stand in wonder at the process taking place and give the plant the care it needs at each stage of its development. 
The rose is a rose from the time it is a seed to the time it dies. Within it, at all times, it contains its whole potential. It seems to be constantly in the process of change; yet at each state, at each moment, it is perfectly all right as it is.” ― W. Timothy GallweyThe Inner Game of Tennis: The Classic Guide to the Mental Side of Peak Performance
I know that when I look at BYOT and/or iPad-based instructional initiatives, I can't help but ask myself, "What are the moments of perfection, and what are the moments where we can provide the fertilizer for growth?"

If you speak to the tech folks, they might describe moments of perfection that are either on/off. For example, you either allow complete access to network-based district assets or not. You either allow Internet access only or not. You allow access to certain web sites or not. Perhaps that's an over-simplification, but you can predict the answers to questions like these:

  • Should we allow students to access district network assets?
  • Should we divide our network/Internet access so that we can easily track who's connecting to what?
  • Should we require users to login to access the guest network or not?

From an instructional perspective, what questions are either yes/no and how can we avoid those?

In the leadership quote at the top of this blog entry, mention is made of how creating a virtual meeting space for educators can break down barriers. I'm not clear from the article how such a cloud-based network is being used, but it raises another question worth considering...and perhaps worth a separate blog entry.






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