Today’s contributor: Stacey Underwood.
Stacey is the librarian at Oak Hill Elementary. She loves UT, sports, and good times with friends…and of course BOOKS!
It has for sure been a whirlwind start to this school year! I had the mindset to come in strong: get teachers pumped up, share and learn from each other, and hit the ground running with technology! Sounds good, right? Then reality set in, and we are all just glad to have survived the first nine weeks.
Being the CIC for our campus is a little different for me. I was a 4th grade teacher for 10 years (8 at Oak Hill and 2 at Doss), but have been the Oak Hill librarian now for 15 years. So in my 25 years thus far, I have been at this one school for 23 of them. I have seen it go through all of its growth and changes – good and bad. Having the perspective of being a librarian has me approaching the CIC role a little differently. No matter how much I am not to focus on technical problems, it is hard to escape that aspect of technology. I depend on my technology team to make sure we are pushing each other to change our mindset, try new things, teach each other, and share ideas.
Teachers have tried so hard to learn and manage all the new systems that have been put in place over the summer. BLEND is becoming part of our school culture slowly but surely; but, for now, our primary focus seems to fall within systems we need for daily duties. The migration of systems into the portal and the change of education network access has seemed to be the most challenging. So as much as I have wanted to be the cheerleader of integrating technology into daily routine in all classes and all grade levels, I feel my main help this first 9 weeks has been trouble shooting and support when things AREN’T working, which seems more often than not. But for me, I am OK being that person because it is what my teachers/staff need.
Our biggest change is that our computer lab was going to be shifted from an Apple desktop lab to a mobile Chromebook lab with flexible sign up for project-based learning activities and required Istation testing. However, that dream was short lived because of leveling and more students than projected; our lab has now become a classroom. So the mobile lab has truly become mobile with its new home, the library.
But I haven’t lost all hope. Many things are heading in the right direction. We are moving away from, “What are the problems?” to “What are the next steps?” We are moving forward into, “Now, what can we do with the technology to make learning better?” And GREAT learning has been happening already this year!