So, I am trying to participate in this thing I heard about on Twitter called Leadership Day 2010.
From what I can gather, Leadership Day was started as a way to tell/ask/state what you'd like your administrators to know about technology to actively lead your school building or district to better teaching and learning. (If this is a misunderstanding of the day or blog expectations, I hope someone will comment and let me know!)
So, I got to thinking... What would I want my administrators to know about technology?
But wait, I am a special ed. teacher, and I would much rather write an entire blog series entitled "What I NEED My Administrators to Know About Teaching Kids with Special Needs." And maybe sometime I will do that... But, today I'll just revise my question...
What would I want my administrators to know about technology in regards to special education (or intervention) in our school district?
1. Digital Technology CAN be used to DIFFERENTIATE. Yes, it's true. "Differentiate" doesn't need to be just a buzz word and it doesn't need to attract all the eye rolling and negative press. I can have students attending to the SMART board doing letter work while another student is reading an e-book or interactive book created with BoardMaker (Mayer-Johnson) software. Come watch in my classroom. My students can use ALL of the technology allotted to us and more.
2. I need TIME to learn the new digital technologies that are going to help my students learn. I do NOT need time to vertically align the K-12 Ohio Math standards that are about to be tossed out the window and replaced by the Common Core standards anyway. I do NOT need time to listen to another text book publishing rep. I do NOT need time to sit with colleagues to complain about "teaching to the test" and aligning standards to text books. I NEED TIME to learn new digital technologies that can be applied to lessons that are needed in the classroom that might extend the learning and thinking of ALL students.
3. When it comes to assistive technology, we could use MORE TRAINING. I know that we can call the county specialist. I know that I can do all the reading and research on my own time, and I do. But I could use more training in this area and I believe my colleagues could too. Every AAC (Augmentative Assistive Communication) device that a student has is different and I learn how to program it on my own time. I learn how to use it on my own time. I teach myself how to teach my student how to use his device.
4. Twitter, Facebook, Nings, and other Social Networks are vital to my professional development as an educator. So, why do you keep blocking things that I need access to in our school setting? Why can't teachers have access?
5. Do you have any idea how CRUCIAL the BoardMaker software is for a special ed. teacher? Do you know how it works? Do you know the cost? The accessories? The benefits? This is, by far, the most important piece of technology in teaching my students and helping them learn. The possibilities here are endless.
6. Why aren't you holding more teachers accountable for teaching 21st Century Skills to our "Digital Natives?" It seems to me that SOME teachers are getting away with using overhead projectors with transparencies that have problems filled in with Sharpie! They are making copies of worksheets from 20 years ago instead of finding new ways to teach antonyms and synonyms. They are relying on the SMART board to be a glorified TV screen. They barely check their email and could not imagine what they would do in the computer lab with more time.
7. I graduated from college in May 2003 and we were making webpages then. It is now July 2010 and there are STILL administrators, teachers, and other staff who do not have websites or blogs. WHY? Why don't YOU have an administrative blog or Facebook page? Why aren't you on Twitter? Are you hiding something? Don't you need a PLN? Don't we ALL need a PLN?
8. Do you have an iPhone? An iPad? An iTouch? How could that device make life easier for someone with special needs? Someone who doesn't speak? Someone who needs life defined with visual icons or photos? How could your iPhone or iPad change a life?
9. Please make a plan. Please make a plan on how we can move forward with technology in our building in a concrete and realistic way. Please encourage every teacher to have a plan. (For example, from a list of 5 digital technologies, every teacher in the building must choose one, learn to use it, and show how to integrate it into his/her teaching by the end of first semester. Each teacher could share his/her use of the technology thus building a repertoire of technology uses in the building.) Make some sort of plan for growth and hold everyone accountable.
10. Students with special needs are digital natives now too. They can often use the computer with better accuracy than the digital immigrants. They can create e-portfolios, click from homepages, use Flip Cams, access SMART boards and SMART Responders, use Google Images and Google Maps, play educational games, access movie clips on You Tube, type spelling words, write stories, create graphic images, etc. etc. etc.