I started writing this Blog because I’ve been thinking about and studying how best to use technology in the classroom for over 30 years, and I thought I could contribute to the topic. After all, I was “flipping” my classroom (using analog technology) 25 years ago. As Senior Advisor to the International Center for Leadership in Education I’ve been speaking and leading workshops on technology-based intervention programs, Flipped Classes and Blended Learning for over 10 years.
The focus of this Blog was to help educators at every level more effectively implement technology in the classroom. I’m grateful to have been very busy, working with schools and districts all across the country, even Asia, and Europe. The two essential questions driving my work were: What are the biggest barriers to effective use of technology, and how do we overcome them?
This may sound simple, even obvious, but I’ve learned the answer to both questions is: School Culture. As I studied the differences between districts and schools, I saw clearly that in schools that struggled, the biggest barriers were most often not budget, instructional, or technical. What was holding them back was a negative, sometimes even toxic, school culture. As I coached teachers and principals, and we peeled back the layers of their problems digging for root causes, they said over and over that… their school culture was broken.
It’s not about the technology, it’s about the teaching. The best technology won’t fix poor instruction… and it won’t fix a broken culture. At the International Center, we believe in three things: Rigor, Relevance, and Relationships. But that’s not the proper order. It’s Relationships, Relevance, and Rigor. Building an effective school culture is all about the relationships!
Today there are many writers and resources for using technology in the classroom. But while we’re so focused on making sure everyone is wired; we must also make sure that everyone is connected. The strength of the connection determines your culture. And that will now be the focus of this Blog.