Here is the link to my project proposal: O'Hagan Project Proposal
Student stories come in all shapes and sizes. I haven’t taught an online course to students that was mandated for them to take. I’ve provided professional development via an online portal (Moodle) that was optional for teachers to take. Students are the product of their past and present. I’m not sure how much teaching in an online environment differs from a face to face, however, I do have some experience with student stories that are both uplifting and downtrodden.
Depending on each student's story you have to differentiate your approach to various situations, including late work and poor test performance. I can think of two specific students from past years that demonstrate how you need to adapt your approach. One we will call Summertime and the other George.
Summertime’s work quality, attendance, and behavior began to diminish near the end of December. When school resumed in January she wasn’t there. She didn’t return for three weeks. When she did she was extremely skinny, and even more inattentive towards school and class. We decided to give her more positive attention both during class, and when we saw her in the hallways. She eventually improved in both her physical appearance and school work. At the end of the school year she wrote me a letter. In the letter she explained that she had attempted suicide at the beginning of winter break. She thanked us teachers for helping her heal, and become fixed, due to the attention we gave her. George came from a broken family. His father, George, was (and probably still is) in jail for first degree murder. His two older brothers, both named George as well, dropped out of high school. To put it bluntly, he didn’t care. At all. He looked at school as “doing his time.” Personally, I think it was a way to have a connection with his father, both are “doing their time. We had to adapt our approach to him to interest, explain, and make what we were learning relevant to his home culture. He eventually earned a “D” from me, which was impressive because it’s the highest Social Studies grade he earned in his entire Middle School Career.
Access to the internet has been declared a human right by the UN (David 2011). Our society lives on the internet. Shopping, academics, socialization all can (and do) occur online. From ordering dinner to meeting your future spouse, the internet has become a staple of almost all facets of life. “In recent years, students increasingly communicate at school through their own wireless electronic devices such as cell phones, iPhones, and Blackberrys.” (Kermer & Sansom 2013). However, not all students have ubiquitous access to the internet. Many are dependent on school machines and networks to digitize their voices.
So how do we reach students with limited access in an online class? The answer can be as simple as making a detailed calendar for the class and then never deviating from it, so the students can plan ahead. We went on a more creative path in my former school district, in which we were 1:1 Chromebook in grades 6-12. In exchange for limited advertising rights, Verizon provided a mobile hot spot for students who are on free or reduced lunch to allow them internet access. This let us continue to enhance our classes with online materials and activities and not worry about students ability to access the internet.
The internet is a superb resource to help students explore their interests in more depth. One of my favorite youtube videos deals with students trying to get more information from a book. It is called, “Joe’s Non-Netbook” https://goo.gl/fLFXyu. I will embed the video into my weebly site www.mrohagan.com for all to see it, if you haven’t.
It is my firm belief that if we keep our eye on the ball and stay student centered, we can overcome any barrier to student learning in our classrooms. The key to reaching our students is to get to know them.
David, K. (2011, December 3). U.N. Report Declares Internet Access a Human Right. Retrieved July 11, 2015, from http://www.wired.com/2011/06/internet-a-human-right/
Kemerer, F., & Sansom, P. (2013). California School Law Third Edition. Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press.
As I began to think about how I would respond to the prompt, I was reminded of my interview with the Director of Technology at my school district. One of the things we discussed was his goals for the technology program and it's sustainability. The first thing he said that you need to do is create the infrastructure. Then you need to test it. The testing takes about a year to do, because you need to push the network to its maximum capacity before you roll out devices to the students. Once you are confident that the network can handle the load, you start to work with teachers on changing their pedagogical approach to daily activities (E. Kwok, personal communication, June 15, 2015). Here is where you have to pay attention to the collective bargaining agreement. One aspect of the collective bargaining agreement is Mandatory Consulting on matters pertaining to Educational Objectives and selection of textbooks (Kemer & Sansom, 2013). I wonder if this pertains to the transition from print textbooks to digital ones?
Another aspect of collective bargaining that can have an effect on the success and sustainability of a program is the mandatory negotiation of hours (Kemer & Sansom, 2013). In order to transition to a one to one program teachers need to be trained on a new pedagogy, as well as some basic troubleshooting of the machines. This will take time and dedication from the teachers. If they are to be required to put in extra time, it needs to be included in the collective bargaining agreement. There are a myriad of professional development options, my school district has a learn on your own policy. Teachers are given a list of options to choose from at the beginning of the year and they pick what they want. This is reflected within the collective bargaining agreement.
In my second interview we discussed the necessity of a graduated professional development geared towards a unified front (not the best word, but it works) for utilizing technology within the classrooms (S. Ahl, personal communication, June 19, 2015). What we, as technology leaders, need to be sure of, is that all teachers have access to quality professional development. From the High Fliers, to those who would rather get stuck in the mud than embrace technology, our students need teachers to have at least a basic understanding of how to create learning environments that are driven by curriculum and powered by technology (M Webb, personal communication, June 16, 2014).
E. Kwok, personal communication, June 15, 2015.
Kemer, F. & Sansom, P. (2013). California School Law: Third Edition. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
M. Webb, personal communication, June 16, 2014.
S. Ahl, personal communication, June 19, 2015.
Initially I couldn't understand the question of how systems such as child nutrtition can support an online environment. Shouldn't it be the other way arround? By creating a fully integrated infrastructure technology can help make the daily functions of various systems more efficient and able to service students better. For example, districts can significantly reduce their costs, and make bus routes quicker, and more efficient by utilizing computer programs that will create an ideal pick up schedule and route. (Townley & Schmeider-Ramirez 2915, 134). Also through the use of GPS locator devises, the rout audit can be done in a fraction of the time it would take without technology, and with less long term costs. Transportation is one arena in which school systems need to improve their efficiency. I know that I tend to draw on my former school district in North Carolina for a lot of data, but I got to know many officials at the district office. In one conversation when they were preparing for a legal brief, I asked what bussing costs. The CFO told me that it was approximately $350,000 per week for a district of 58,000 students (D. Karpinski, Personal Communication, August 2013). Knowing that really made me ponder the purpose ofbussing, and to see if there was a way technology could help alleviate some of the bussing costs, perhaps with more virtual field trips,skypeing into workshops for students, etc.
This past school year I taught in a Title 1 school. I have never taught in a Title 1 before. I was honestly shocked at the level of poverty, some of my students took food home with them over the weekend because that's all they could get. Growing up this way seemed to give many students a drive to succeed. For example one of my students received a full ride scholarship to USC, another a full ride to the University of Wisconsin. As a Title 1 school students get free breakfast as well as free lunches. The breakfast is served in the classrooms, with an extra 10 minutes of homeroom built into each morning (Bell Schedule, 2015). Again, I believe that technology can help serve students nutrition programs in two overt ways, 1 it can make the National School Lunch Program and the California's School Lunch Program run more effieiently and make sure that no students fall through the cracks (Townley & Schmeider-Ramirez 2015, 152-153.). Another way technology can support the program is by helping students track their daily caloric intake. According to the text we have an obesity problem with our students, anecdotally I belive it is due to poor nutritional choices among the youth (Townley & Schmeider-Ramirez 2015, 150-151.) Child nutrition is where we begin to see how a system can support the technology program. Healthy students who have a nutritious diet perform better in all areas of school, including in their use of technology for academic purposes (Townley & Schmeider-Ramirez 2015, 151.)
As a former Instructional Technology Facilitator, I loved my maintenance staff. In fact, the technology department was under the same umbrella as the Maintenance department. Maintenance made sure that our Wifi network functioned properly, and that our servers wern't destroyed by lightening, as we were struck twice in my last year there. Out of the support services we read this week, I believe that theMainenance and Operations services, while separate services have a relationship which causes them to be confused with each other (Townley & Schmeider-Ramirez, 2015).
Just today I had a meeting with a principal in my new school district (I am moving to a district that is closer to my home) and we discussed a bond they are putting together to help support some improvements in the district including technology. The district is 40% out of district transfer students. One problem they are encountering is residents wondering why they should pay for a bond that will support a large portion of students that won't be paying for it. If it were me, I would remind those parents of the symbiotic relationship between schools and home values. While, yes, students will be benefitting from the bond measure, so would the community as a whole (Townley & Schmeider-Ramirez, 2015).
Like the home values and bond measures for the schools form a symbiotic relationship; so do support departments, including technology. Education Technology can't exist without the operations keeping the district functioning, or maintenance making sure the buildings are clean and have adequate power. I think it is safe to say that all systems (including online learning environments) are merely individual legs supporting a well rounded district.
Bell Schedule. (n.d.). Retrieved June 20, 2015, from https://32ndstreet-uscmagnet.schoolloop.com/
D. Karpinski, Personal Communication, August 2013
Townley, A.J. & Schmeider-Ramirez J.H. (2015). Dubuque, IA: Kendall Hunt Publishing Company
While pondering the role of the CBO I couldn't help but think about an episode of The West Wing. In one episode the character Sam Seaborn is being interviewed about his process for writing the State of the Union. He said that before the President can bring an idea to the speech they first have to run it by the Office of Management and Budget. The interviewer asked why that is, and Sam says, "When the President announces a new program, the first thing people are going to ask is, How will we pay for it?" (Sorkin, 2001).
The CBO (Chief Business Officer) of a school district is a role that is extremely important, yet rather vague in both title and specific role. The CBO can be called anything, such as a Chief Financial Officer to a Director of Financial Services. The person who is performing those duties also varies from district to district. There can be one dedicated individual acting as the CBO, or there can be an individual such as a superintendent who, among all other duties, performs the duties of the CBO. In order to provide more consistency and direction in 2001, the Association of School Business Officials International adopted a set of professional standards that gave guidance and direction to the position of CBO. (Townley and Schmieder, 2015).
While I was teaching in North Carolina our school district was lauded by the Governor for being a model of how districts in the state should implement a technology program. We were completely one to one from all grades 6-12. Teachers had weekly professional development and 100% support from site based Instructional Technology Specialists. She came to one of our staff meetings and opened the floor up to questions. I asked her how she came up with the technology plan. What she said parallelled what Sam Seaborn told the interviewer. She said that the first thing to do is meet with the Chief FInancial Officer to come up with a budgetary plan for paying for the program. Then once the board approves that plan, meet with the head of Instructional Technology to craft a plan that will fit withing the auspices of the budgetary framework (Ellis, 2014).
This exchange that I had with Dr. Ellis demonstrates how the CBO can be a resource to a technology leader. Everything has to be paid for. As we have been discussing in our first two postings, everything begins and ends with the budget. We can have the best technology plan in the world, but if it can't be funded, then we are dead on arrival. Any technology plan should be included in the basic educational plan for the district, which is the main foci for the budget, and included as a goal contained in the LCAP. (Townley and Schmieder, 2015).
Another way the CBO can assist the technology program is to determine where the funds need to come from. My current school district is under FBI and Grand Jury investigation, and take my word for it, you do not want to work in a district that is under any sort of investigation. Having the CBO help cross the T's and dot the I's can ensure that the money comes from the correct fund and is spent the way it is supposed to be through the office of expenditure. (Townley and Schmieder, 2015).
I havn't had the chance to get to know anyone in my current school districts Financial Office, I did have a good working relationship with the CFO in my previous district. I would email him a request, and he would let me know what the budget dictated and then worked with me in preparing a future plan, or how to categorize the funds. The CBO can be a technology leaders best friend and a good partner in formulating long term strategic plans for your school, and the district as a whole.
Ellis, Dr. Mary. Personal Communication, April 2014).
Sorkin, A (writer), and Misiano, S (diretor). (7 February 2001). Bartlett's Third State of the Union (Television Series Episode). In John Wells Productions (producer), The West Wing. Burbank, CA: Warner Brothers.
Townley, A & Schmieder-Ramirez, J. (2015). School Finance: A California Perspective (10th ed.). Kendall Hunt Publishing Company.