Learning While Leading

Technology in the classroom opens up a myriad of questions, but also presents fantastic opportunities.  Students have been using technology inappropriately since the beginning of education (finger nails on the chalkboard, games of pencil break, spitballs, those jumping things you make with paper clips). Our job is to present students with technology use that enhances learning objectives and to model how to use them appropriately through our own practice.

This week I got the opportunity to lead our staff during our weekly afternoon of professional development.  I enjoy the opportunity for sharing my ideas on something I’m passionate about and coaching teachers through the web of technology in education (you see what I did there?) is definitely one of my passions.  Leading professional development means  I get to share my experiences, hopefully make some people laugh and also be met with new challenges.  There’s always a question that isn’t easy to answer and that means I’m growing as a professional too.

This week we I attempted to use the skills we’ve been developing as a staff around GSuite in order to gain some feedback on our newly revised technology philosophy and introduce teachers to the ISTE Standards for students.  We used a hyperdoc and visible thinking routines to promote engagement and collaboration.  

It can be tricky to introduce new ideas to staff.  I know I’ve been guilty of letting out the “one more thing” groan in a staff meeting before. So I wanted to make sure this was all presented with a positive slant.  Thanks to some great guidance and feedback from my admin during the planning stages, I think we managed to do just that. We used the responses from a teacher classroom technology use survey that was completed earlier in the year to look at and celebrate the ways we are already meeting many of the ISTE Standards. It helped to turn the conversation from ‘what else do we have to do’ to ‘Wow! We already do some cool stuff’. 

It felt like a successful session.  Im also learning that it is more difficult to read a room full of adults than it is a room full of students. But the responses and conversations were positive. In fact I got positive feedback from some surprising sources and responses to my exit survey were very thoughtful and meaningful. 
I’m in the process of follow up on the feedback for those who asked specific questions, an option on my form, and in the meantime I hit some of the highlights in an email to my staff.  That email in turn, led to this blog post.  Its funny how things work out that way.   Below is the final portion of the email and I think it probably applies to a broader audience so I thought I would share.  There was some concern over what role the ISTE Standards were to play in our school and how technology use is “monitored” at our school.  Here are my thoughts:

The ISTE Standards are:

  • a guide for integrating technology
  • a resource for you to access as you continue to develop your craft

The ISTE Standards are not:

  • goals to be accomplished by a specific date
  • suggesting that all education should be based solely in technology

The questions about a policy for

  • monitoring screen time for students
  • who is responsible for teaching digital citizenship,
  • how to make sure we aren’t over using technology as a school

I think this can all be covered by saying yes, we are revising the Tech Plan to address some of it, but much of this is up to you as a teacher.  Don’t worry, it is not extra work.  Just think about how you approach teaching your class.  

Do you…

  • ask students to close their computers when you’re speaking or they don’t currently need them?
  • move about the room while they are working or have them sitting so that you can see most of their screens?
  • check your email or phone constantly during a class?
  • encourage students to take brain breaks?
  • discuss the importance of citing websites and resources?

As we have these conversations, I keep coming back to the idea of are we educating our students for our past or their future.  Its a powerful thought.  I in no way believe that education should be pure technology and we should throw away books and pencils all together.  We used poster paper and markers in this session!  But I do believe we have to prepare students to be successful in their world.  After all, you aren’t standing in the town square reading this pinned to the wall.  You’re probably reading it on your computer, and you could be on almost anywhere in the world reading it on your phone.  Times have changed and education needs to be changing with them if not ahead.


  1. Ryan,
    I really enjoyed your post. It sounds like you did a great job leading teachers through crafting a technology philosophy. I am at a secondary school as well. When I was reading some of the responses from the different departments on your visual thinking activity I could hear teachers at my school voices as well. You gave me some great ideas. Thanks for sharing!
    Debbie Campbell


    1. rharwood17 says:

      Thanks Debbie. It was a good experience for me. Teachers gave some great feedback and opened up some really good discussions. Glad it helped spark some ideas!


Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s