Beneath the Surface

Times of transition are tough going, but I love them. They are an opportunity to be intentional about new habits.

With a new school we can make a new normal, we just have to be bold enough to do what we believe in. “Who we are tomorrow begins with what we do today” and there is no greater risk than to be afraid, stand still and attempt to do what we have always done.

For about three months I have known that soon would come a meeting with staff where I told them about our ICT strategy; only I didn’t know when it was going to happen. When it did come, I knew it would be difficult; elegantly floating the simple idea that technology can enhance what we do as teachers, whilst the realisation of what a cloud based one-to-one environment means to working practices furiously paddled beneath.

I predicted the arguments that would be made; some would quote the cost and the undeserving nature of the children, or perhaps reel off the last big ICT revolution that went nowhere. I knew there would be a backlash from the techno-phobic; those lacking in exposure to technology and the others who are truly non-believers. Points about technology failure, staff training and a perceived move away from teaching and on to technology; all real concerns. Moreover, for all of those that were on board, I knew there would also be that nagging doubt that we just couldn’t pull it off.

But I was wrong.

When faced with a challenge it is always best to have the best. So I surrounded myself with the strongest, finest, most knowledgeable, positive people I could and I made sure we had the most impressive technology we could. I think this paid off. I don’t know whether listening to the conviction of the Headteacher or the passion with which the rest of my team spoke was what convinced people. Perhaps it was simply the realisation that the Headteacher, SLT and ICT teams are all committed to this way forward. By the end of the day staff were as positive as I could of ever hoped. Overwhelmed, definitely, but excited.

Maybe it was just holding their Surface Pro 4s that made it all become real. Certainly staff were excited by the device and the things they will be able to do on it. “Inking in” will be a term we all get used to very quickly because it is what we do already, but the Surface Pro 4 helps you extend the possibilities. Annotating directly onto an existing PDF resource transforms your way of thinking, but only because it feels so natural on the Surface Pro 4 and the device promises us it won’t get in the way of learning.

And now we can move on. The conversations don’t have to be about what we will have, but will be focussed on what we can do with what we will have. The conversation can be about teaching and learning and not about the technology. Sure, when we all wake up the risks and arguments will still be there, but now I am confident we can face them as a whole staff. We have a long journey ahead of us, but now that journey has started. It will be difficult, and it will feel overwhelming at times. But we will achieve it together.

I think Diana had it right, “Don’t give people what they want, give them what they don’t know they want yet.”

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3 thoughts on “Beneath the Surface”

  1. Good post and nice to read how you went about getting everyone on board. The use of key staff Digial Champions always seems to work.

    New building, new devices, new budget – always nice.

    Do you have plans for 3 years time when the devices are old and battered? Will you lease?

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    1. Leasing will probably be part of the strategy but when buying devices every year leasing doesn’t actually help because you end up with three years of lease costs every year! We are hoping to use money brought into school through income from use of the school facilities and we are looking in the future at how we can support byod. At the moment our plans do not include home use and byod would support this opportunity as well as reducing overall costs.

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