I have the classic case of blogging ADD. I think about writing. I record loads of voice memos about what I need to write about. I even map it out in my head. But then, I get distracted. I must find a way to push through because I have a story to share and I need to be the one to share it.
So here goes.
Five years ago I developed, launched, and began leading a teacher-led technology initiative in my school district in Talladega County, Alabama. I was certain this would work for a number of reasons. A culture for collaboration existed among teachers. (Not actual collaboration , but an eagerness to learn together) The district administration trusted teacher leaders with the future of our schools. (And began to trust us even more as time passed) We knew what we were talking about. (I’m always amazed how easy it is to do something when you REALLY know what you are doing)
Today, I am astounding with our results. We’ve changed the way teachers teach in Talladega County. We have personally trained and mentored over 65% of the teachers in our district. Those teachers have reached 100% of our teachers each year. When you come to our district to teach, it is not only the expectation at you will integrate technology into your instruction, but that you will be provided (soon, if not immediately) with what you need to do it. Teacher-led training and mentoring, equipment, support and vision is part of the package. We have 553 certified staff and 7650 students, an average sized district in Alabama. We have 17 schools and serve seven distinct communities, each unique in needs, resources, and challenges. Yet, our result amaze me thus far. Over the last five years our district math proficiency scores have increased 20.75% and science proficiency scores have increased 27.5%. Last year’s graduation cohort increased 23% over the previous year’s cohort. We have transformed two high schools into a 1:1, another slated to transition in January and fourth school in the fall. We have many pockets of 1:1 by grade levels in other schools. Visit any Talladega County School and you’ll see equipment. But that’s not what astounds me. As flashy and cool as it is, the technology is NOT center stage. Learning is. (Can’t wait to tell that story! You’ll love it!)
Now understand, we are NOT a wealthy district. In fact, we’d be pushing it to claim to be a “middle class” district. But the commitment is there. I plan to write more about our efforts in hopes that these reflections will help others while providing clarity as we grow. I’d love to know your thoughts, as well.
There are many lessons in this story. Something to chew on for now…. Teacher leaders CAN transform schools. I look forward to sharing more about how this has happened in my world!