There’s an emotional side of edtech—and it’s affecting school innovation

[Editor’s note: This post by Alan November, written exclusively for eSchool Media, is part of a series of upcoming articles by this notable education thought leader. Check back later this month for the next must-read post!]

At one of my recent workshops, I was approached by a teacher who had never redesigned her lessons to take advantage of edtech’s potential to transform learning. She was still stuck in the $1,000 pencil phase of using new tools to do traditional work. When I showed examples of how teachers around the country were challenging students to design and find solutions to their own problems, she immediately saw the benefit of shifting her thinking.

The good news was that she was reconsidering her beliefs and was now convinced that she had been underestimating her students. The bad news is, she was afraid of appearing vulnerable in front of her students if something went wrong. Because she had never tried shifting control to her students to research their own problem designs using edtech, she was worried that she would not be knowledgeable enough to help them develop their own ideas.  While she could see the value of challenging her students to try something new, she felt anxious about moving ahead.…Read More

Teaching Generation Z? Start by engaging their parents—here’s how we did it

[Editor’s Note: This story is Part 1 of our month-long series on “What it means to teach Gen Z.” Check back every Monday in April to read the next installment!]

A huge body of research shows that parental involvement in a child’s education results in higher student achievement, both academically and behaviorally. I’ve been in K-12 education for 22 years, serving in roles from teacher to superintendent, and my students have always shown greater success when their parents are involved in the educational process. However, parents today are busy people, so connecting with them can be complicated to arrange.

I currently serve as the principal at Max Larsen Elementary, a K-1 building with 516 students. Nearly 70 percent of our students qualify for free and reduced lunch, and we have a significant Arabic- and Spanish-speaking population, with about 30 percent of our students speaking a native language other than English. Of that 30 percent, approximately 90 percent have been in the U.S. less than a year.…Read More

5 school areas that desperately need student voices

As a graduate journalism student over 20 years ago, I worked on a thesis project centered on education reform news reporting. I was analyzing how often education reporters included students in their stories about education. Probably no surprise…it was almost non-existent.

Traditionally, no entity has ignored their primary customer, consumer or constituent more than education with students. I was fortunate enough early on as a beginning teacher to discover the power of student voice and student-generated ideas. Throughout my career, I have always benefited from asking my students what they thought, what they are interested in and where they would like things to go.

If we are serious about providing each and every student a truly transformational 21st century education, then we should consider including student voices in the following five school areas:…Read More