The power inside just 1 hour

It’s amazing how just one hour can impact you. How it can reconnect and reignite a passion and vision and how it can drive clarity and purpose.

Laptop and hourglassIn my last post I shared the challenges of getting to the space where true “creative planning magic happens” and when the dream begins to come to life. I concluded the post by suggesting that “the power in the action of technology is starting to emerge from inside our classrooms” – no sooner had I posted, I was presented with an opportunity to spend an hour with Mme Jennifer Rossi’s (@MmeRossi) grade six Intensive French (IF) class at Erma Stephenson elementary.

During my visit, students were asked to focus on reflecting on their latest blog post, reading classmates’ posts and offering appropriate feedback and comments in French. The room was alive. Their blogs lived on surreyschool.ca and their learning tool was a MacBook.

Not to complain, but generally how it goes in Information Technology (IT) is that people only call when something is broken, in need of upgrading or to start a new project. Hence, I am painfully aware of the challenges that come within the IT space: networks aren’t perfect, PLNet can have slow periods, computers and software in general can be “glitchy” and the list goes on…

So after a dozen years with the District striving to remove and mitigate these technology barriers in support of classrooms and enhanced learning, here is where the “magic” started for me. For that hour with Mme Rossi and her class of 30, the technology just worked. It was all but transparent and operating as a utility, as it should! Internet pages were loading, pages from surreyschools.ca were refreshing quickly, MacBook laptops that are approaching five years old loaded quickly and just worked (three had challenges). I couldn’t help but pause for a moment and savour in the experience that was unfolding for this class.

A grade 6 student using ss.ca blogging tool in a creative way!

A grade 6 student using ss.ca blogging tool in a creative way!

The hour was absent of problems and politics, the students were highly engaged in reading, thinking and commenting on blog posts (and indicated they thought surreyschools.ca was “pretty cool”). The experience embodied a great example of the kind of relevant 21st century learning we want for our kids. It also reminded me that we need to continue to embrace the notion of “digital resiliency” as even a single laptop not functioning can be like a student without a pencil. It demonstrated that “we’ve built it and they are coming” and re-invigorated me to keep pushing to remove barriers, to continue to dream and to advocate to go further.

I shared this story at the Information Management Services (IMS) department year-end celebration to not only thank every single person for their individual contribution, but to help connect them to the magic they’re responsible for delivering into Surrey classrooms. The impact they’re making for students is making a difference.

So a sincere “thank you” to Mme Rossi for the invitation and the hour inside their learning environment. An hour full of impact and inspiration.

2 thoughts on “The power inside just 1 hour

  1. Hi Dan,

    I love this post! It’s great that you were able to spend some time in Jennifer’s classroom. I’m sure that having those times in classrooms is one of the most rewarding experiences for you in your position. Even though you must hear a lot about the difficulties that occur with tech, I am pretty sure that the positives far outweigh the negatives! It’s unfortunate that you don’t hear about those as often as you should.

    Thanks for all you and your team do to make a difference and continue to move us all forward and make so much possible for us in SD36!

    We do appreciate it,
    Tia

  2. This is a great post. It is amazing what students in our school district are able to do because barriers to technology have been removed. When I hear the stories from other districts (most recently at the BCSSA Conference), it is so clear that we are so far ahead with the decision-making and infrastructure that has been put into place in our district. Students are embracing technology to empower their learning. The focus is on learning and it is simply seamless. This doesn’t happen without vision, commitment and the persistence to make it happen in spite of so many organizational challenges. Kudos to the department.

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