Monday, August 15, 2016

Enter the #squadgoals Challenge

We invite you all to join us for our #squadgoals challenge for the next month! We know for many of you this is a time where you're meeting with your staff and colleagues to make big plans for the year. We also know that learning is always #bettertogether! We gathered stories of #gafesummit attendees who brought their squads recently to a summit to celebrate the power of learning together. To enter, simply tweet @edtechteam a picture of you and your squad, share what your goals are this year for your school or district together, and include the #squadgoals hashtag! We'll share them all and give away bundles of 2 tickets to a #gafesummit or #edtechteamonline course! The challenge ends September 15th. Read our #squadgoals below and cheer on each other as you move towards them.

Principal, Ranchos Middle School
Fresno, CA

I feel blessed and fortunate to have had the opportunity to take a team of educators with me to the GAFE Summit in Mountain View. Since the day I arrived at Ranchos Middle School, I have been a part of an environment that embraces collaboration and seeks what is best for our students. This past spring our District made the commitment to purchase Chromebooks for my site and we began to explore professional development for our staff. As we dug deeper several of my teachers came across the EdTechTeam via Twitter and we began to discuss taking a team to the GAFE Summit.

The summit was, simply put, an incredible learning experience. Our staff was excited and eager to participate in the workshops and activities available to them.  It was such a unique opportunity to go back to the hotel and work collaboratively on the lessons we learned that day. I was nervous since I was not “the” expert, but I was excited to be a member on the team, learning and working together. The experience was priceless as the team bonded in a way that is difficult to describe. Teachers are back at school visiting each other's rooms to see how others are setting up the workstations.  Grading policies are being revised and adjusted to reflect learning outcomes instead of just using points.  As a group we even decided to participate in the Bootcamp trainings for level 1 and level 2 GCE certification.  

Our #squadgoal is to make sure we are all Google certified as a staff and that we can provide our students with a transformed educational experience.

I would advise fellow administrators to take a team with them to a GAFE Summit. Dream big and take the entire staff if you can. If not, then you need to empower several key members of your staff to take the lead. In my experience, staff feels less threatened when it is one of their own who provides some initial PD in the area of tech. You will have the dual benefit of having an assistant tech coach on site (follow @theteachingjedi on Twitter if you want to see a teacher who took on this role) and your staff will have someone they know and trust to talk with privately about tech. Creating a positive culture where everyone feels that they are #BetterTogether is our #squadgoals for the year. The best part is that the GAFE Summit was just the beginning; now we will all get to experience the journey together.

Over the past two years while I was principal of Fairfield High School we had a vision to get 100% of our staff to attend a GAFE Summit. The reason behind that was to build capacity within our teachers and ensure that they were equipped with the tools necessary to have a purposeful integration of technology.

Administrative Assistant, BlueSky Online School

BlueSky is the oldest completely online program in the state of Minnesota.  We are always trying to get ahead of the game on new technology and more importantly, finding new technology that will benefit our students, parents, and staff.  

You could say that our #squadgoal is to build a stronger and more innovative squad.

We try to send different members of our staff to different Ed conferences throughout the year and this is our second year sending a team to the #gafesummit in Fergus Falls.  Our team included one of our IT systems analysts, two language arts teachers, a special education teacher, an office support person, and a counselor.  I think it is important to send staff from different areas to PD events because it lets the ideas spread more easily when they report back to the entire group.  Our IT analysts have specific take-aways that they are focusing on that our teachers aren’t going to value or be able to relay.  Teachers from different content areas could sit in the same session on Google Forms and Sheets and come away with a completely different list of ideas on uses and features they want to explore.

Another good reason to send a team to any event and especially a #gafesummit (there are many around the country!), is that your staff has a fun time.  Sure, it’s a lot of information to take in in only a few day time span.  It can get a little overwhelming at thinking of how to implement so many new ideas.  But your squad is there right along with you.  You can form bonds with staff members you don’t usually spend time with.  You get to work together on filling out Bingo cards to win a prize or think your way out of a BreakoutEdu box.  

Director, Secondary Education FSUSD
Fairfield, CA

The first year we sent a cohort of teachers to a summer summit and then a second summit hosted by one of our other district high schools in November.  Teachers came back pumped and excited about what they had learned and began to share and collaborate without prompting. By our second year, we were in year one of a district wide 1:1 Chromebook deployment beginning with 9th graders.

At FHS we committed to sending all of our 9th grade teachers to a GAFE summit. We wanted to ensure that the teachers that were working with the students that were now in a 1:1 environment were equipped with the tools and strategies to fundamentally understand how to augment and redefine their lessons by integrating technology. By the end of the second year we were proud to say that we had over half of our staff attend a GAFE summit. The momentum that was built from those that had attended was infectious. We began to hold mini #techslams at our staff meetings, held our own version of an #edcamp, engaged in Twitter challenges, created a #Pineapple room for collaboration,  and saw over 90% of the staff implement Google Classroom. Our site was lucky to have additional support from our Ed Tech that would meet regularly with the teaching staff to support them with the GAFE suite and helped to motivate and push the teaching staff to try new tools and feel safe in those new ventures. Our site was poised to develop a very focused educational technology vision:

At FHS we see that educational technology will be a quintessential and indispensable part of the teaching and learning process; teachers will use edtech as facilitators of learning relevant to the students’ lives, and students will use edtech to become empowered, self-directed learners who realize their potential to impact their community and the wider world.

This school year I am now in a new position as the Director of Secondary Education for FSUSD. I am now working with each of the high schools and middle schools to continue the same efforts that were begun at Fairfield High. I am committed to making it a reality that all of our FSUSD teachers attend a GAFE Summit, all sites implement professional development around the SAMR model and depth of knowledge, and ensure that each site follows their educational technology vision.

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