This past week marks the conclusion of my third summer in Dublin Unified School District as the Chief Technology Officer. There were many facets to the summer’s work that were no different from prior summers. Staff adjusted their schedules and tackled school-based tasks in teams. Here was my approach that was unique this summer that I had not done in the prior two years.
In the spring of 2017, I carved out time in my schedule and walked elementary school classrooms in the district across six campuses. I talked with teachers and tested hardware in every room. It gave me an opportunity to gather some much-needed qualitative data regarding hardware and the teachers over all feelings about the technology in their rooms. Teachers that had laptops in disarray were given a form to complete filling a Google sheet and they coordinated time to drop off their laptop prior to leaving for the summer. In addition, teachers that did not need specific hardware in their classroom (that had been the district standard hardware) had an opportunity to request removal.
In testing hardware in every room in front of teachers and students, I was able to convey the importance of targeted summer work. It also allowed teachers input into priorities in their rooms while gone.
I gathered notes and dropped into a project spreadsheet that would be utilized for the summer work on a site-based level with order of importance applied prior to the beginning of summer. In addition to meeting the needs of hardware in classrooms across all K-12 schools, The department also had a number of initiatives that we took on as a whole team.
My philosophy in my department with all staff is regardless of your job title there will be times during the year that everyone is expected to pitch in. We have dubbed projects: all hands on deck (AHOD). These are really team building and training opportunities that I see as invaluable for operations. Some leaders might suggest it’s not the best use of time to have all members of a department working on a task. I have found it to be quite the opposite. While we are doing something as simple as assembling teacher podiums with hardware, the conversations between the staff members often involve real-time professional development that I could not create on a schedule. Digging deeper on any given technical concept with Network Technicians in the room alongside Computer Technicians has meant real-time growth for all in the department. The teambuilding element of the work goes without saying. We had a minimum of three all hands on deck opportunities (AHOD) through the summer and I still believe it was some of the best work we did.
As the leader of the department, my technical skills improved greatly through the summer as I partnered with Computer Technicians in the field and allowed them to be the boss for the day. I believe these opportunities are also critical to empower staff and give them a chance to lead the department through an exercise or a task. With much joking and fun, all of them have been able to rise to the occasion and be leaders.
During this particular summer, in addition to all the tasks that resulted from my spring walkthroughs of every elementary classroom, the team also built 25 new classrooms across three campuses.
The hard work and effort of the whole group to ensure that we were ready for the beginning of school has led to the smoothest first week of school that I have had in my career Educational Technology yet.
As we move through the 2017–2018 school year, I will take more opportunities for the AHOD concept to play out to ensure staff has opportunities to learn together, grow together, work towards common goals, and learn more in a hands-on environment than they would in any coordinated professional development that I may offer.