One of the biggest obstacles to the “charterization from within”* is getting teachers to welcome ed-tech into their classrooms – and even more critically – incorporate devices and software into their daily teaching.

What’s the ed-reform solution to this tricky problem?

Lots of professional development in personalized learning for teachers. If a superintendent wants to put their district on the fast track to digital learning, they couple teacher professional development with the strategic use of their school librarians as the onsite ed-tech adoption leaders.

Colorado, which rated a D from the Network of Public Education for the extent of privatization of K-12 education in the state, has dedicated money for statewide teacher professional development courses in personalized learning.  From State funding available for teacher training in personalized, blended student learning:

“iLC was so excited to see the governor recently increase our state’s investment in the one thing that makes the biggest difference to every students’ success — a teacher,” said iLC founder and CEO Judy Perez. “We can help districts around Colorado create equity in K-12 education by advancing the practice of personalized, blended learning. Our partnership with Colorado allows us to expand low-cost training from an expert staff.”

Perez said teachers are changing instruction to meet every student’s needs using a combination of technology, one-on-one coaching, and class instruction. “It’s all about the student; technology and training from our qualified staff supports teachers to improve, personalize, and blend their instruction,” she said.

Even Relay Graduate School of Education is teaming up with The Learning Accelerator to offer online classes “to help teachers make the shift to blended learning”.

“Figuring out how to use technology to reach every student is a tough task, for novice and veteran teachers alike. Educators need access to really high-quality, on-demand training that will help them learn about and translate ideas into actionable strategies for their classrooms,” said Beth Rabbitt, Partner at The Learning Accelerator. “Relay is helping us figure out how to solve this problem, having researched and developed a series of practice-based, deep blended learning modules for use by teachers, coaches, and leaders across the nation.”

It was the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Education Technology that saw the strategic value of using school librarians as the onsite ed-tech adoption facilitators and shrewdly incorporated them into the Future Ready Schools Initiative.

According to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Education Technology, librarians are at the forefront of helping schools become future ready. However, too often librarians are left out of the planning process for infrastructure and devices, professional learning for teachers, and digital content strategies—areas where they often have expertise.

The Alliance for Excellent Education (the Alliance) launched its Future Ready Schools (FRS) initiative in October 2014 with the aim of leveraging technology and connectivity to personalize and transform learning. In June 2016, the Alliance, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology, expanded FRS to position school librarians as leaders in this effort.

There’s no bigger librarian turned ed-tech spokesperson for Future Ready Schools than Mark Ray. He’s all over the internet. There’s the TED Talk, Changing the Conversation About Librarians , The Future Ready Librarians: What’s Not to Love Webinar, and web articles like: Is Your Library Going Future Ready Too?.

There’s over 50 Future Ready School Districts in Washington State. Check this PDF: Take the Pledge – Future Ready Schools in Washington State to see if your superintendent pledged to make your district “Future Ready”. Mark Ray works for the Vancouver School District – one of the first districts to join the initiative.

I’ll close with the slick video created by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Education Technology promoting teacher professional development and Future Ready Schools.

The push to ed-tech mediated personalized learning is closer than you think – just ask your school librarian.  -Carolyn Leith

* “Charterization from Within” is a brilliant phrase coined by Wrench in the Gears. To learn more, watch the video at the end of this blog post: We change the world by showing up. I went to Seattle and got a video on Ed Reform 2.0 / Learning Ecosystems to share!

From the video:

Future Ready: Establishing a Professional Learning System


Vancouver Public Schools, Vancouver, WA

Steven T Webb, Ed.D. Superintendent, Vancouver Public Schools

Steven: We have invested significantly in teacher development, professional development, creating professional learning communities as part of an ecosystem for scaling this digital transformation work in Vancouver. Roughly 30% of all expense activity that we charge to our technology levy is about teacher support. In order for it to be effective, it has to be collegial, it has to be ongoing, and it has to be job embedded. We use in our system a one-third, one-third, one-third model for learners in classrooms. So we’re simply applying this model for adult learners.

Sally Kroon, Instructional Tech, Vancouver Public Schools

Sally: For all of our teachers as we roll out devices and go one-to-one, we have what we call an iPad Institute and so in August before school starts, they get professional development and training. And then because we are part of the buildings as well, my role gets to be then, to deliver that training, but then also follow up with teachers. And so, that might that I’m in a classroom, I’m co-teaching with the teacher, or I’m planning, or they are running by on their planning period and asking me a quick question that turns into bigger conversation about instructional practice and how to effectively use an iPad or a tool to impact instruction then. We have had whole staffs together in trainings before, and so they get the energy, and they get to share ideas and really kinda look at best practices and how they’re going to implement it in their own building level. And then, it also might be working with a PLC, so a group of all English teachers as they’re planning their next unit and how they’re gonna then use devices to assess students and to hit their learning targets. And then it could also be one-on-one or within a pair of teachers who are end teammates, and they are chatting and planning and I’m coming alongside to be able to ask questions or answer questions that they have.

Mark Ray, Director of Instructional Technology and Library Service, Vancouver Public Schools

Mark: So, we realize that it’s essential to prepare leaders to be able to lead in a digital classroom, and so we have developed a couple of strategies to address that. One of the things that we did was that several years ago, even before we were deploying iPads in classroom, we gave all of our district leadership team iPads and training with the expectation and the goal that they could see how that tool could transform the way they work. It’s very often that we overlook principals and associate principals and not give them the tools that they need and the support, and so that was one of the key pieces. We kind of try to model what we expect teachers to do and that is to be entrepreneurial in their professional learning. And that means doing research, following blogs. When we have colleagues within our team that find a new app or a new solution, they bring that together at one of our regular meetings or they share it online and they learn together. The key piece in the component of that is collaboration and with both our principals and our instructional technology facilitators, the way that professional learning takes place is because of collaboration. Because one peer will learn about something great, and then they share that with another and then it becomes viral. And if, we’ve done courses, we have done classes, but what really sticks is when one person finds a solution and then shares it with another peer.