Terra Lea Dennis

Terra Lea Dennis

“I learned that keeping the heart or mission of the grant at the forefront was critical– As Mick Jagger sings, “You don’t always get what you want, but if you try, you get what you need.” I learned that flexibility in the format was critical, celebrating along the way, and setting a future purpose that all buy into. This was an entirely new idea, so remembering that change can sometimes happen quickly, but more often happens incrementally was important as well. Small steps for low confidence teachers, breathing through frustration, reminding teachers that students are the best teachers when it comes to using new apps/programs, and this definitely empowers them in terrific ways, and that teachers don’t need to be the expert, we can let go, and be the coach on the side.”

District: Edmonds School District

Award Amount: $5,000.00

Description: We are a team of elementary teachers at College Place Elementary in the Edmonds District who are excited about growing digital literacy and citizenship for our young global learners. We are a high poverty, high immigrant school with dedicated and compassionate staff and limited resources. We are piloting a 1:1 chrome book adoption this year, and we are excited to grow our expertise and confidence with staff and students using technology. We plan to use collaborative leadership to grow skills and share expertise with our staff, students and families, and document our learning in a district blog, and site blog.

What was the problem you were trying to solve?
Our challenge this year was a brand new chromebook 1:1 adoption for 3rd- 6th grade at my school with many teachers feeling not ready for implementation, and feeling low confidence in teaching and using 21st Century tech skills/tools both in teacher presentations, assessment, and student tech use.

Why was the work important to your context?
This implementation of 1:1 adoption included very little professional development late summer/early fall, or curricular support. With a high needs, high ELL population, teachers were stressed and overwhelmed about how to envelop chromebook use in the classroom.

Briefly outline the ‘scope and sequence’ of your work
Fall training with district tech staff led to a Staff survey about concerns, needs for tech PD, and confidence levels using and teaching with tech tools, particularly google apps for education. The district provided online training modules for teachers to do independently, but the survey suggested that staff wanted to work collaboratively in training.

Tech team members were recruited in December, book study began, with biweekly PLC meetings. With the tech team trained in google tools, we were ready to work with our colleagues in training/coaching sessions.

Monthly Tech Tuesdays were born as a relaxed after school space for teachers to sit at a table (tables were labeled with modules/subjects and tasks to ‘try out’ new apps) One tech team member sat at each table; prepared to walk teachers through the module or answer questions. The Tech Tuesdays morphed over time, as teachers gained confidence, shared resources and ideas with team members, and units were created integrating newly learned tech tools. Grant money supplied stipends for teachers if they completed an entire module, tech team members were paid for time planning, training and reflecting. Books were purchased for participants, and grade level teams. A new staff member joined the tech team for next year, and most members are collaboratively taking online courses to deepen their understanding of google apps, and google tools to continue our coaching work next year. Several team members will be presenting at a Learning conference this summer.

As a result of the work, what are the significant impacts you are able to evidence? (What changed as a result of your work?)
One of the significant impacts was that teachers expressed comfort levels increasing, more confidence, and a supportive environment where their needs drove the PD. Also, teachers had the time and space to share projects, and coach others to create similar classroom projects, taking the mystery out of using/applying new apps or programs in the classroom.

What were your major learnings? (successes and challenges)
I learned that keeping the heart or mission of the grant at the forefront was critical– As Mick Jagger sings, “You don’t always get what you want, but if you try, you get what you need.” I learned that flexibility in the format was critical, celebrating along the way, and setting a future purpose that all buy into. This was an entirely new idea, so remembering that change can sometimes happen quickly, but more often happens incrementally was important as well. Small steps for low confidence teachers, breathing through frustration, reminding teachers that students are the best teachers when it comes to using new apps/programs, and this definitely empowers them in terrific ways, and that teachers don’t need to be the expert, we can let go, and be the coach on the side.

What resources did you need to use or to create to support the work?
We needed online modules for google apps provided by our district tech staff, we needed our district tech leader/school coach’s support, instruction and advice, and we needed online training provided by Heritage Institute.
We used the book Google Apps for Common Core also as a resource for lessons and tasks.

As a result of your work, about how many teachers were directly impacted? How do you know?
Fifteen of our 26 certified staff and our Principal all participated in at least 1 monthly training session, twelve came to 2 or more sessions, and eight came to all of them. We know because we offered clock hours for these monthly sessions.

As a result of your work, about how many teachers were indirectly impacted? How do you know?
These participating teachers also continued to coach other team members, and 1 to 1 coaching happened in classrooms as well. Our sixth grade students also became a ‘tech team’ sent out to save the day in other classrooms. We are compiling examples of student work and projects to celebrate with the end of May, this will be shared with all staff, and at a district conference, to inspire other teachers.

What words of wisdom do you have for the next teacher leader working to increase teacher leadership in their context?
Snowmen start as small snowballs. Stick together. Celebrate the small steps. Keep the tenacity of a pitbull, but the positivity of Piglet, steer clear of Eyores, and smile. Often. Even if you don’t feel it.