Backlash

August 30, 2007

In “An Unfortunate Reality,” NCDPI southeast technology consultant Acacia Dixon cites an article about current trends in school technology funding:

As school technology infrastructures have become larger and more complex, the percentage of their technology budgets that schools spend on tech support has doubled in the last four years, according to a new report.

School leaders reported that items such as professional development and instructional applications are among the first tech-related expenses they cut when budgets are tight.

While we can’t do 21C without the technology, we have to be careful here about priorities and what will get us to the pinnacle of the 21C mountain. In The Heavy Lifting, I backlash that our biggest challenge is not in procuring and deploying technology assets. Rather, it is in how we use them to impact teaching and learning for 100% or our students and teachers.

The September-October 2007 issue of The Futurist has an article that should resonate with education professionals caught in the current climate of high-stakes testing and data-driven decision-making. The article is entitled “Not with a Bang: Civilization’s Accelerating Challenge.”

It backlashes our information culture. And it is worth reading as a counter-balance before we rush headstrong into the data-driven frenzy.

There is a growing awareness of the negative aspects of having too much information and of having systems to gather it that are too elaborate and too prone to error and breakdown. Being too dependent on information is seen as addictive.

Businesses and all other organizations continue to devote resources and money to building ever more complex information-gathering systems. The difficulties created by the enormous quantities of information generated, may, at least in some cases, no longer be outweighed by the benefits.

But when you have invested millions in an IT system, you use it whether or not it is the appropriate tool.

The point is we are in a people business and we can’t be reduced to an over-reliance on data as we make decisions. The argument is this: instinctive judgments, or judgments based on “thin slices of information,” are better than judgments based on gathering and over-analysis of more information.

Obviously, we must gather and interpret data to guide our broad progress. The problem with data is that it can get as granular as we want it to be. And it is fast becoming an end-all. What then becomes of human instinct, judgment, gut, intuition, experience, wisdom, sense? These human qualities risk becoming ever more valuable and rare in a culture that has an over-dependence on data.

That’s a little TMI for such a human enterprise as K-12 education.

Stay tuned for Part II, which swings towards teamwork . . .


A Creative and Beneficial Partnership

August 30, 2007

Through creative bidding and setting a five-year replacement cycle, the county and the school system have struck a plan that both replaces computers and upgrades technology in schools and saves big money for taxpayers.

“It was a real incredible partnership between the school system and county government,” said Joe Poletti, director of technology and media for the school system, on the arrangement.

Here’s the rest of the story published in the 8/29 edition of the News-Times: Savings Made on Tech Deal


550 Million

August 29, 2007

haulin netMy new read is called Planet India (Mira Kamdar, 2007). It presents a “flat world” caution to America. I have read this before from Thomas Friedman. But it is worth revisiting, if for no other reason than to keep conversations kindled.

American technological, economic, and strategic dominance is being challenged for the first time since the fall of the Soviet Union. Ironically, the communication and information technologies that propelled America to the forefront during the 1990’s are now contributing to the erosion of American dominance. These technologies have created a world where time and space are compressed as never before, where ideas, money, services, and people are constantly in motion, freed from the constraints of national boundaries.

As the book title suggests, the rise of India as a superpower is imminent.

India, with its open society, dynamic economy, its commitment to democratizing the institutions of world order and to creating wealth in a way that is inclusive and sustainable, is forging a compelling alternative paradigm.

This book promotes the 21st century as the Asian century. It focuses on India as a microcosm of the world. The author states: “As goes India, so goes the world.”

Do you know that India is the world’s youngest country?

  • Fifty percent of India’s people are under the age of twenty-five.
  • By 2015, there will be 550 million teenagers in India

Do you know how many Indians speak English today? 550 million.

Do you know that India has 17% of the world’s population, but only 4% of the world’s water supply?

Do you know that 40% of the world’s poor live in India?

India has pockets of affluence scattered among a landscape of challenges.  As we look into the future, is it far-fetched to think that “as India goes, so goes the world?”

Does any of this have any bearing on how we best teach our students to be future-ready?


Clickin’ on All Cylinders

August 28, 2007

Lisa Raines is back from summer vacation. I can tell from reading her blog Click o’ the Mouse that she is turbo-charged for a great school year. She has an idea to lead her school away from static web pages and towards blogs. In her own words, she is ready to “blow the lid off blogging.”

The advantages of being able to update their web sites from anywhere and using an interactive format with students and parents are winning more teachers by the day. I believe the majority of our teachers will be blogging by the end of the year.

If this experiment works (and I believe it will), our teacher web sites will be more interesting, more interactive, more informative, and more current than ever before. Students will be learning and collaborating outside the classroom. Parents will have a voice. The world will be invited in to interact with our classrooms and share their expertise in ways they haven’t been able to before.

Lisa has the teachers meeting the students on their own turf. Take Mr. Wolfe’s class blog, for instance. He has a welcome video (recorded on his MacBook and posted to YouTube) and a Slide that depicts his passion, fishing. We’re talking major and instant 21C credibility here.

Welcome back, Lisa. I’m a believer! What I like most about this plan is that it strives to build a culture of writing within a community of learners. Teacher writing is given prominent display on the web to compete with the daily distractions to students’ attention.


Reflections on the Job Shift

August 28, 2007

haulin netI’ve been trying to get back into schools for two years. Finally, the stars have aligned. I’m heading out of media/tech and back into school-life. I will be assistant principal at West Carteret High School.

I still have county oversight with athletics and distance learning. On the political side, I will see through this year’s substantial local $$ for technology infusion.

I’ve been wrestling with this move for a while. Part of me is excited, but I’ve got some serious butterflies. My goal is to keep sharing my worldview on education at Haulin’ ‘Net. I’m realistic that all that may get dashed soon after the late night ball games, etc take hold. But I hope not.

I left West Carteret as an instructional technology facilitator a decade ago. I have been fortunate to have had a variety of rich leadership experiences during that time. My six years as Director of Media and Technology have been eventful and rewarding. As a department, we are in real good shape. This year will be busy as we deploy and integrate a lot of assets. I look forward to hearing about the great things ahead in Media and Technology.

Millie Temple, who had been instructional technology facilitator at Croatan HS, is coming in to lead media and tech on a part-time basis. I am working with her on the plans, processes, evaluations, budgets, etc. we have in place for this year.

Trust me, this system is gaining with Millie Temple at department helm. She was a county teacher of the year, so instruction is first with her. She is very intelligent, speaks well, writes well, presents well, is politically astute, is a numbers guru and comes from the Career Tech Ed (VoTech) camp. She is a positive people person and a team player.

I have locked in a deal with County Gov to fund tech at certain levels for the next five years. So she won’t have to spend enormous time and energy in the political morass.

As for me, I want to get back to the uniqueness of school life. After ten years away, I look forward to dealing with the unique energy of high school students. I want to see 1250 unique student faces every day. I want to help them handle their unique  challenges. I want to be amazed by their unique wonder.

And the WCHS staff? I look forward to working with them again. I look forward to learning with them. I look forward to supporting them . . . and with their support, I look forward to US making WCHS the best 21C school it can be.

Leaving media and technology during these times of rapid change is not easy. Here is one of the quotes that gives me perspective at this time—“Don’t lament that it is over; rejoice that it happened.”

I tell myself this often.


wow and Wow and HOLY COW!

August 27, 2007

Joe Poletti will assume an Assistant Principal position at West Carteret High School, and Millie Temple will begin the duties of Director of Technology and Media for the Carteret County Public School System. Carteret County Public School System Superintendent Brad Sneeden announced these changes today.

Mr. Poletti and Mrs. Temple will begin their new duties in early September.

Mr. Poletti has worked as Director of Technology and Media since 2001. He has also been responsible for athletics, arts, healthful living and distance learning. He will now join West Carteret High School’s staff as one of the three assistant principals.

Mrs. Temple has worked for nine years at Croatan High School. She first taught business education and then for the last four years was the instructional technology facilitator. She will now work part-time as the Director of Technology and Media.

According to Mr. Sneeden, Mr. Poletti will continue to direct the school system’s athletic programs and distance learning. Mr. Poletti will also be directly responsible for the technology replacement plan agreement between the Board of Education and the Carteret County Commissioners. His other duties will be reassigned in the coming month.

“Mr. Poletti has served the school system well as the Director of Technology and Media and, at the same time, handling many other duties,” Mr. Sneeden said. “It has been Mr. Poletti’s desire to work as an administrator on the school level, and he asked to be considered for the assistant principal position at West Carteret High School. While I certainly will miss his expertise on the school system level, I am pleased he remains as part of the school system team and pleased he is willing to continue handling many other duties.

“Mrs. Temple comes highly qualified to the position of Director of Technology and Media,” Mr. Sneeden continued. “She is well respected in the school system and the community and brings a wealth of knowledge to this position. Mrs. Temple resigned her position as a teacher at Croatan High School in June in order to spend time assisting her parents and continue working on her degree. Because this is a part-time position, it will fit her family and professional needs and it will certainly fit the needs of the school system.”


Attitude

August 26, 2007

This timely entry comes from Matt Hillman at LeaderTalk

I often am reminded of Dr. Haim Ginott’s quote on attitude at this time of the year:

“I have come to a frightening conclusion.

I am the decisive element in the classroom.
It is my personal approach that creates the climate.
It is my daily mood that makes the weather.
As a teacher I possess tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous.
I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration.
I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal.
In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated,
and a child humanized or de-humanized”

The reaffirmation is this: teachers have the power and position to make this world wonderful . . . one student at a time.