Tie And Jeans

Not sure where we’re heading, but you’re going too slow!

I didn’t make it in to last night’s #edchat, but I love the fact that I can stroll through the fragments of the discussion when I wake up in the morning. The topic was, broadly, how to assess and evaluate an individual teacher’s classroom tech use. Like all #edchats, there were a lot of voices, little consensus and a large number of good quips that really need to be broken apart and examined in more detail than Twitter provides. I’m really interested in seeing what comes out of everyone’s blog over the next few days.

It hit close to home, as the last two hours of my school day had been a large conversation about our upcoming 1-1 program that (surprisingly!) focused on issues of teacher assessment.

Our school has made the commitment for a 1-1 initiative launching in fall 2010 and I couldn’t be more excited. While I only see the middle school on a daily basis, I think that the commitment and enthusiasm of our teachers to their craft and profession is incredible. However, I’m concerned that we’re hip-deep in the planning for this program and we haven’t yet made a clear statement to teachers (much less students or parents) of *why* we feel it’s so important to move to 1-1, other than comparative statements. “XXXX and YYY Schools have been 1-1 for a decade!” may be true, but it doesn’t tell teachers why that’s important, or what those schools have done with this tech that’s significant. I’d argue, having been around an early 1-1 laptop program in 1999, that what we want out of our 2010 launch is vastly different from what was expected then.

It made me feel a bit marketing-dirty when I realized that I was arguing for a vision statement. But, hell, I worked at a 24hr diner that had a vision statement. They’re useful things, both in the crafting process where you can confront people’s unspoken assumptions about who you are as an institution and where you’re going, an as a compass to steer by once it’s completed.

But before we had touched on what a vision statement might actually say, the conversation shifted to how important it was to make tech use part of our ongoing teacher assessment and retention process. This in turn spiraled to who would resist, who would rebel, and how many parents would leave if NN teachers left.

It’s true, if you have a clear vision for what your school should be, eventually you need to focus on keeping teachers who enhance that vision. But before we even get to that stage, let’s try to convince our peers and partners that our goals are driven by the deepest concern for our students, their experience and accomplishment, and also the ongoing health and developing culture of our school.

@blairteach linked out this NETC developed tech-assessment rubric called OPTIC, and it’s really good at being a very broad, non-judgmental, cover-all-bases document. It might be a good survey, but it’s a poor assessment tool. If there’s to be any tech assessment, we should take our clear and vetted vision statement, and trim down the Optic frame to look for the *that* type of engagement. Don’t even mention drill-kill tech use. I honestly don’t care if a math class is using web-based quizzes and tracking. If it gives them more time to do real, substantive engaging mathematics, then all hail the web-quiz. If it just supplements a book based “#1-33 odd for HW” curriculum, then we’ve got a problem.

Yeah, I kinda swerved in there and didn’t build the vision statement I clearly need to. Sorry. Toddler stirring. I’ll try to come back to that this afternoon.

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