I have written posts before about my team. It’s so important to surround yourself with people that share your passions, but also push you as both a leader and individual to be a better team player. I’m very lucky to have a team that does just that.
Our #SquadGoal this year was to create some entertaining professional development opportunities for staff that would hook them in and promote high quality tech integration. Then follow up with meeting educators at their individual learning level and understanding their needs. This seems to be the best way to assist each person and promote a growth mindset.
We started the year modeling a technology summit much like those from the @EdTechTeam and @AppsEvents1 team locally here within York called GAFE Peak, as it was smaller than a summit. This was our third year organizing this style of conference both for York employees and for any surrounding town educators that wished to attend as well. Just like the two companies mentioned before, we broke down the days into sessions so that educators had the opportunity to plan their day around their own interests and needs. Each session had multiple options for workshops, and they were strategically leveled from beginner to expert. These sessions were fun and engaging, and left many people wanting to expand on what they had learned based upon the feedback we received at the completion of the conference. This started the true process for organizing follow up PD in our district.
In developing strong professional development opportunities, we often think that the more attendees come to the workshop, either virtually or face-to-face, the more successful the session was for all. That is not always the case. In fact, I have found through my years as a tech integrator and administrator that small segments with 1-to-1 or small groups often has a greater effect. Although this takes time which is always the greatest barrier in schools.
The teachers I would follow up with, usually earlier adopters, would grasp the concept quickly, devise a plan to make it work within their learning environment, and then spread the word to their peers which would make it easier for other educators to see how it applied to their work and learning environment. I call this the “street cred.” approach. Teachers are more apt to believe a peer that struggles with the same problems day in and day out as they do with a full curriculum and classroom of needs over anyone within the tech department that has an altogether different structure to their busy day. This “street cred.” approach is why I believe heavily in hiring excellent teachers that were tech savvy in their own learning environment to become tech coaches and integrators here in York.
So this Spring I am faced with hiring a librarian for our high school. Now this is a position that is tricky for me to define on a job description, as it is ever evolving. We are currently in the middle of rolling out MakerSpaces throughout our district as well as morphing our traditional libraries into learning commons. The high school is one of the places that is behind in this transformation, so I find myself seeking a candidate that would be innovative to redesign the space for all learners and needs, as well as think creatively about how the programs could change to accommodate the entire school and community needs. Certainly no easy task for any individual, but an exciting prospect none-the-less for those up to the challenge.
I’m also excited about the potential for some blended team aspects with this hire as well. We have been longing for a tech coach to return to our high school since the position was cut prior to my arrival as director. Those of you in the education field know that gaining a position like back after a prior cut has been made is nearly impossible. Therefore, it also excites me to dream of a tech coach/librarian position to facilitate the learning commons at our high school that could build programs like MakerSpace, Film Club, Student Innovation and Help Desk Teams, etc. Now we just need to attract the right candidates. No easy task for sure, but my hope is to connect with my PLN and see if we can find the right fit for the position. Here is the link to the position if you or anyone you know may be interested; HIGH SCHOOL LIBRARY/MEDIA SPECIALIST POSITION
Hiring quality people to join the team isn’t a new conversation by any means. My former boss and friend Jason Saltmarsh, who is a Director of Technology in New Hampshire, has had many discussions with me on how to hire the best people many times before in our careers. It is something that I certainly observed him do in the past and highly respected how he continually found good people under the constraints of an educational budget. He even wrote an article for the Huffington Post about this back in 2015; Technology in Schools: How to Hire the Best People by Jason Saltmarsh @saltyruns.
A true team is crucial in planning, delivering and reflecting on supporting the strategic plan of the district, its educators and learners. I’m hopeful we will find a great match to join our team this spring, which will make this summer’s PD and next year’s rollout the best York has ever seen. #ysdmindset