Thursday, January 8, 2015

Making a Change: 40 Schools in 7 Days

Guest Blogger
Michelle Armstrong
Rundle College Director of Technology
Calgary, Alberta Canada
EdTechTeam Featured Speaker

It was a typical Canadian November, fraught with freezing temperatures, blizzards, power outages and bus crashes, but we’ll get to those later. In just 7 days, 8 Canadian trainers were able to provide quality PD to 190 educators from Canada’s 10 provinces and 3 territories. How? It all started with a pledge.

Samsung Canada made a major commitment to Canadian public education in 2014, pledging $1 million in school technology grants, putting 1357 tablets and 971 chromebooks into 40 schools across Canada. Fully aware that technology is nothing without learning how to use it, Samsung also pledged to provide educational support for those new devices. That’s where me and EdTechTeam come in.

The locations were scheduled, the trainers were booked. 190 educators from across the provinces and territories agreed to come together at one of 12 workshops around the country.

The tour began on November 1st in Calgary, Toronto and Saskatoon. A total of 16 schools were brought together for training on a variety topics from GAFE basics to Android Apps for the classroom. As with many of EdTechTeam’s training sessions, attendees were hesitant at first, “not convinced about another technology item to try to integrate” but the reviews were consistently positive, most agreeing “that was the most enjoyable and engaging PD I have ever attended.”

The following weekend the trainers shifted to Maple Ridge, Ottawa, Selkirk and Coquitlam for another round of successful sessions with an additional 10 schools, then things started to get a bit dicey with the maritimes trip right on the heels of the Buffalo Snowstorm. Jeff Humphries made it into Newfoundland without incident. Little did he know how difficult it would be to get out! With his flight cancelled, and his next training session scheduled in St. John NB in just over 12 hours, he worked his Canadian charisma to change his flight, only to board a plane so turbulent that, let’s just say the passenger beside him made use of those bags in the seat-back pocket. But he made it, arriving in St. John, NB to find that no taxis were running.

 Not to be stopped after coming so far, he hired a military driver to get him to the school right in the nick of time... to witness a school bus slide into a power pole out front of the school. Have no fear, no one was injured, but the power outage that resulted kept Jeffrey on his toes, arranging access to his cellular hot-spot in order to keep the training going. In the end, power was restored, and 15 teachers from New Brunswick were left inspired, not only by the breadth of knowledge that Jeffrey provided, but his tenacity and perseverance in the face of Mother Nature’s hijinx. It should be noted that Jeffrey went on the very next day to provide training to teachers from Nova Scotia and PEI, receiving a unanimous “strongly agree” by all attendees when asked to rate if they felt the workshop was an excellent learning experience. (Then he went home and slept for a week ;-)

The tail end of the tour capped off with training sessions in Kelowna and Yellowknife: 7 days, 8 trainers + 10 provinces + 3 territories = 190 inspired educators with unlimited potential heading back into their classrooms!

Special thanks to: Michael Wacker for allowing me to be the lead on this project; to Stacy Drohomyrecky and Nicola D'Souza from Samsung for their amazing coordination efforts getting all of the training sessions booked and finally to the amazing trainers that were so willing to share their passion with other Canadian educators: Tracy Poelzer (BC & SK), Kylie Kissel (with me in Calgary), Jim Jamieson (Toronto), Scott Monahan (Toronto & Selkirk), Lise Galuga (Ottawa), Jeff Humphries (Ottawa & Maritimes), James Petersen (Yellowknife & Pre Training Webinars). You are an amazing crew. I can’t wait to work with you all again!

To learn more about an upcoming summit, register for an EdTechTeam Summit featuring Google for Education in your region, or contact EdTechTeam about custom professional development and organizational change coaching.

EdTechTeam is a California Benefit Corporation and global network of educational technologists dedicated to improving the world’s education systems using the best technology and learning principles available. EdTechTeam produces Future Ready Schools summits and custom professional development for teachers and school leaders around the globe.


  1. Jeff Humphries made it into Newfoundland without incident.

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