Innovate to Educate Entry

West Chester Area School District

Nora Wheeler, Principal

What innovative technology initiative or project are you most proud of, and how has it improved teaching and learning in your school/district?

First, I worked to revise our vision into being a model of 21st Century teaching and learning with continual opportunities for all students to demonstrate creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, and communication in order to show growth and sustain high student achievement. Next, I led the purposeful integration of iPads after growing our supply. Finally, I started targeted professional development for teachers. As a result, we have seen an exponential rise in their daily use.

What were some of the biggest challenges to your initiative, and how did you meet those challenges?

Access, training, and understanding are our biggest challenges. We opted to place small sets of iPads in each room for daily access. We increased targeted professional development: from face-to-face sessions, to webinars, and book clubs are used. These efforts empowered teachers to take some risks with new instructional practices. We also informed parents of why these things are important through information sessions, the school newsletter, teacher websites, and a Moving WTE Forward website [http://movingwteforward.weebly.com/].

What are the three biggest components that need to be in place for tech innovation to succeed are:

"Visionary Leadership" Educational leaders need to build consensus around a shared vision of the future with all stakeholders.
"Access" There needs to be enough equipment to ensure students have regular access in school and out of school.
"High Quality PD for Teachers" Since teachers design and implement instruction; they need to understand why innovation is important and what it looks like in the classroom.

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