Monday, August 07, 2006

Stepping Forward

Reading Doug Johnson's latest post tonight, I was reminded of the term "change agent." It's what teachers must be. It's our job. How ironic that the change agents of society are so resistent to change. Today, though, I saw things move in the right direction.
We've been trying to implement various technologies at Phoenix this year. Some are big ones, initiatives like blogging and podcasts and wikis. Some, like one I experienced today, are small but important. Rather than have each 8th-grade teacher keep his or her own separate parent contact log, we've designed an Excel file that lives on the server which is access-restricted. All 8th-grade teachers can open and modify the file that has columns for Date, Last Name, First Name, Calling Teacher and Notes. Not only does it put a record of all teacher-parent contacts in one convenient location, it is sortable and each-to-use. It's something that's been possible for years, literally. While I realize it's simple, I cannot overstate it's importance. It's something that I can show to teachers and say, "Look, this is a way you can look to technology to improve how we do things." Once they are sold on the little things, we're more open to putting more deep-seeded traditions on the table. Small steps.
The thing is, at the end of the day, our assistant principal called me in to her office about finding the right tech tool to provide basic bulletins on specific student behavior monitoring. This is a conversation she would not have had last year. Even she realized and appreciated that fact.
Some fantastic news, news I'll say "I told you so" on. Today, Phoenix started a waiting list. A WAITING LIST! The school that was searching for students just last year and worrying about it's numbers in a much different way, has people waiting to get in. What an amazing team I get to be a part of that has created an environment for students in which such contagious change is possible. Seeing them in action today reminded me of what consumate professionals they are. Hearing their dedication to solving the little problems that arose during Day 1 reminded me of what adept problem solvers they are. Such a healthy place to work.
As more and more outlets enter the DOPA debate, I've been asking myself what I can do. I've decided to pitch a column to the paper presenting a NeXt Gen educator's take on the whole thing. With the fair and impartial piece on our dedication to tech integration, it seems a logical follow-up.
With all the changes in humanity, it amazes me the extent to which we are still afraid of what we do not understand.
More later.

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