My innovation project consisted of two components. One was to promote a blended learning environment at the junior high campus where I teach. The second, and probably the most important part of my innovation project dealt with how to best support that blended learning climate. Currently, I teach the technology applications class to approximately 75% of the sixth graders. This was essential for students because the computer class was basically their only exposure to technology. Then, our district launched the 1:1 mobile initiative and put a device in the hands of all students at the junior high. Game changer. The stand-alone computer class was no longer a necessity. Instead, technology could be infused into all content areas as a learning enhancement. My proposal was to eliminate the technology applications class, allowing me as a campus technology coach, to be available to help integrate digitally enhanced lessons for all grade levels and content areas. I was prepared to share the knowledge I had gained from sixteen years of creating digitally enhanced lessons.
My school district does employ two Instructional Technologists. One of them is responsible for the primary school and elementary school. The other covers the high school and the junior high. While both of these technologists do a fine job, being two places at one time is impossible. The junior high campus and the high school campus would benefit from a technology coach dedicated solely to each school. My innovation plan addressed the need for a technology coach to be available every day to support the junior high teachers.
The technology coach innovation plan was presented to the assistant superintendent in charge of curriculum. My reasoning and research were sound. The plan had merit. Every class I took in the Digital Learning and Leading (DLL) program supported my innovation plan (especially the course on professional development). As it stands right now, all of the technology TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills) are not being met at the junior high. I was prepared to help remedy that. The assistant superintendent seemed as though he thought my plan had potential. I was excited. My innovation plan actually had a chance to be implemented, or so I thought.
Then the anvil dropped. No extra money in the budget, even though I had not asked for a raise. If my class was eliminated, the sixth-grade student schedule would still need another class to fill up their day. That would mean hiring someone to take over my position. Maybe not necessarily a technology teacher, but there needed to be a class to complete a sixth-grade student schedule. That anvil crushed my dream.
I am not a quitter. I do not give up easily. I’m not sure how I could have presented my plan any better. I went through the correct chain of command, had the support of my fellow teachers, and presented research that backed up my plan. Unfortunately, the demise of my innovation plan was something I had absolutely no control over, money.
On the positive side, the blended learning aspect of my innovation plan was still on the table. I could still incorporate some digital disruption. It wouldn’t be easy without a full-time technology coach available, but baby steps can be taken. That’s where things stand right now. I have encouraged a few teachers to integrate technology into some of their lessons. Those that have benefited from my example will continue on the path of technology integration. There are still many teachers that push back at any mention of using the student Chromebooks. This makes the big hairy audacious goal I have set rather difficult to obtain, but I will still try. I will continue to be an example and model digital lesson enhancement every chance I get.
Without my innovation plan as the foundation for much of my coursework, I don’t think I would have gained as much knowledge as I have. The plan was important to me. I was able to choose what my plan would focus on. All of my learning was based on the COVA approach since the innovation plan was my own. I actually lived the learning. The entire Digital Learning and Leading program showcased a significant learning environment for me. Now that I have experienced meaningful learning, I feel better equipped to offer that type of environment to my students. I still believe in my innovation plan. Even though I have not reached the level of accomplishment I had hoped for, there is always tomorrow and the power of yet.
Throughout this entire DLL program, I have had the support of my fellow classmates. I wouldn’t trade any of them. They were there to offer advice, bounce ideas off of, and supply me with new avenues to make me a better teacher and person. I was intrigued by many of their innovation projects. So much so, I have decided to try some of their plans at my school. My next innovation project will be to have students create their own eportfolios. The eportfolios could be used as a tool to develop a student’s college or career readiness. I also would like to create a website with “training” videos that are all produced by students. Both of these skills will help my students excel in the digital world we all live in, and they won’t cost any extra money! I have learned to not base an innovation project on something that will cost a significant amount of money when there is no money available.
Hopefully, this post does not make one think I feel defeated. I do not. Just because my innovation plan did not unfold the way I had hoped does not mean all doors are closed. There are always different angles or approaches that can be taken. My ultimate goal is to provide a positive and productive environment for the young lives I touch on a daily basis. I can honestly say I achieve that goal every day.
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