Recently, during an evaluation post-conference, my vice-principal asked me if I would join the PBL committee for our district. Before completing my school’s, Village Ohio High School, technology evaluation, I might have begged off. I do not have a lot of extra time for committees, and, like most people, I do not really love committee work. However, looking at the Maturity Model Benchmarks and how my school and district scored on them, I have decided to join the committee. We need more student access to technology in the classroom, and I want to be part of making that happen. If students are going to be creating 21st century projects to show their learning, they need 21st century tools to create them, otherwise we will just be making the same pretty posters we made when I was a kid. In order for our school to increase its score on the benchmarks, the availability of devices must improve dramatically. Recently, I reserved a laptop cart for my sophomore history classes, where we were studying the objects of people during the Ming and Qing dynasties of China, like bowls and musical instruments and a rug. One group of students called me over to their desk, using their computer to show me why their opinion differed from mine and across the room a group of students were gathered around one young man’s computer listening to a musical recording of the instrument they were studying. A device in the hands of each of my students every day would allow that kind of student ownership of learning every day, which excites my teacher heart.
On the other hand, my school evaluation showed me several areas of strength I had never considered before. This is only my second year teaching at Village Ohio High School, and there is a positive relationship in my district between the teachers and all levels of administration I have not seen in other districts. After the evaluation, I believe the positive relationship stems from the planning style of the school and district, which includes all levels within the district from the students up to the superintendent. Also, the administrators and the teachers work together to see improvement and change occur, building a strong, mutually-respectful relationship. This relationship is one of my favorite things about teaching in my district, and it translates into a respect in the classroom between the students and teachers as well. Also, planning in my district is not quick, but it happens in manageable chunks that allows improvement and flexibility as the change happens. Last February our LMS, My Big Campus, shut down unexpectedly. It was a blow to everyone who had spent the last year training with this system. However, because the planning committee had spent so much time deciding what kind of system would best meet our needs, they were able to have our new LMS set up by the end of the school year, leading to a very smooth transition to our new system this year for all involved.
Link to survey spreadsheet: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1VE1sb0TA8TuoqfkmgtTfzJjBs8_ECkm7BtF1aNbqVhA/edit?usp=sharing
Link to school survey: https://docs.google.com/a/u.boisestate.edu/document/d/1uZGmYeGFCJPojStA_Mc1z7wBQKOdD7wcU2OErjWOBHE/edit?usp=sharing