Ugh! How do I introduce myself??? I guess the basics right? My name is Bernadette Hannah Barone and I am a mother of two amazing girls, an educator, pit bull mommy, and lover of high heels! The last four years I have been managing a 1:1 initiative, integrating a STEAM mindset and supporting a maker space/innovation lab.
I am pretty nervous about starting this blog, but here it goes, because I have a bunch to share about educational leadership, technology, and education!
Currently, wearing these hats!
Pennsylvania Institute of Instructional Coaching Member
Pennsylvania Steam Leadership Council Member
Facilitates Professional Development for Bristol Township School District
Manager of 1:1 Initiative
Manager of Verizon Extension Grant
Mentors Student Tech Team (Tiger Techs)
Mentors Girls In Technology Group (G.I.T.)
Manages the FDR Innovation Lab
STEAM Teacher for 21st Century Grant
Educational Leadership Graduate Student (reason for this blog😱)
This is my 24th year in education. I teach in the district that I attended school as a student. It is filled with amazing, creative, and talented people. Many sections of our district are struggling financially. For many reasons, resources for our students are limited.
I am passionate about our students, public education, equality in education, equality in general, and platform wedges. I have taught as a full-time special education teacher, an elementary classroom teacher, a reading specialist, and an ELA teacher at the middle school level. My current education gig is an Instructional Coach at FDR Middle School for Bristol Township School District. In addition, I am earning my second masters in Educational Leadership.
Closing the Digital Divide
I was a part-time instructional coach until 4 years ago. Our district hit the grant lottery for technology! The grant required a full-time instructional coach and voila! Here I am! The grant was from Digital Promise and funded by the Verizon Foundation. The grant was intended to close the Digital Divide (watch this movie Without a Net to learn more). When we received the grant, our building did not have wifi, we did not use Google Apps, we had stand-alone desktops in computer labs, and classes still sat in rows.
The grant provided 1:1 devices for each middle school student with 5g of data each month. Students would have continuous access to the Internet, their teachers, and information. This was transformative. It was scary, daunting, and overwhelming, but it was so stinking exciting! Our kids would be on a level playing field with the surrounding affluent districts, states, the country, and yes THE WORLD.
So, it’s an awesome gift to have this technology granted to your school, but how do you get ready for it? How do you prepare for the culture change that is about to happen? I will delve into the dirty details of the process in future blogs! But, for right now the most important idea to grasp is…
BEING AN ED LEADER MEANS YOU GET CONNECTED!
As an educational leader, you need to get connected to your teachers. Just like students, they have varying levels of expertise or knowledge in technology. They will need a differentiated plan for professional development and time-LOTS OF TIME to become comfortable with the technology. Educational leaders who want successful technology integration must assess the needs of their faculty and staff and provide the appropriate supports for learning technology. The technology is a tool to be leveraged. It should not drive the instruction, the learner drives the instruction. Know your learner, know your staff, and move from there!
As an educator, you need to be connected to your students. They are different from previous students, they live in the digital world, they communicate, relate, learn, and access the world through technology. Educators can’t be the “sage on the stage”. They need to understand their students of today. Facilitating learning and allowing students to discover, analyze, and synthesize information will encourage today’s learner. Directing students to find relevant problems and solutions will help them connect to learning and be prepared for our global economy.
Our students need to be meaningfully connected to technology to access information and demonstrate their learning. Providing students with a device to complete worksheets is a mere substitution. Technology needs to transform the learning process. A focus on collaboration, creativity, expression, and communication. Technology supports these processes, but cannot completely achieve these goals on its own. Our learning environments have to reflect the workplace of today. The technology is a catalyst for this type of learning and innovation.
😎The future is so bright😎
According to ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education), our students need to reflect the following attributes:
Integrating technology was seen as an enhancement to educational programs. Today, technology is a necessity. Educational leaders need to be able to devise and communicate a vision that empowers our teachers and students to access the digital world, technological resources, and tools. It is not just about learning, but innovating!
Here, at FDR Middle School we are constantly building capacity to adhere to our vision of innovation. Last year, we were awarded Verizon’s Innovative School of The Year. Verizon also awarded our school a Maker Space/Innovation Lab grant! So staying connected to our teachers, students, and the technological resources help keep the vision in focus!
My future blogs will share information about educational leadership, supporting teachers with meaningful professional development, starting and managing an innovation lab/maker space, and providing real leadership opportunities in technology for teachers and marginalized students.
Oh, and maybe something about shoes! 👠👠👠👠
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