Rising to Take on a New Year and a New Challenge: Join Me

Special / Uncategorized / January 17, 2019

– by Terra Graves-

I’ve been involved with FLGI now for about a year (though it seems longer). I’ve earned all of the certifications that FLGI offers, been active as an International Faculty member through my writing for FLR and presenting at ISTE and FETC. The learning and collaboration I have experienced through FLGI have been the most meaningful professional learning I have ever known.  

But if it was FLGI that excited me in 2018, what really excites me now in 2019 is how my new job and my role at FLGI have converged. My new position as the 21st Century Learning Project Coordinator for my district involves working with teachers and administrators to embed the WCSD 21st Century Competencies (our framework for designing student-centered learning) across all student learning. And those WCSD 21st Century Competencies share many commonalities with the AALAS/GEEFL elements. My worlds merge. At their essence, both are about changing teacher practice and reaching every student. Flipped Learning is the meta-strategy that supports all other active learning strategies. The technology of the 21st Century Competencies provides the digital environment that gives students access to and ownership of their learning. 

Throughout the next several months, I will give examples of how AALAS/GEEFL elements serve as both validations of quality practice and reminders of how to improve.


A New Job for the New Year

The release of the Academy of Active Learning Arts and Sciences (AALAS) Global Standards Framework and the Global Elements for Effective Flipped Learning (GEEFL) sparked the idea for this series. Days before the winter break, I accepted my new position: my first certified administrator position. A dream realized. I plan to share with you my experience as a new administrator with a major project and how the AALAS/GEEFL support my work.  

Here’s the summary description for the job:

Under the direction of the Chief Information and Innovation Officer, the Coordinator will supervise a team in the District-wide coordination and deployment of resources to support digital 21st Century learning and teaching across the WCSD (Washoe County School District). The Coordinator must serve as a strong leader and change agent who is able to implement the District’s vision of improved student growth and achievement through the use of technology. The Coordinator will serve as lead project manager for a District-wide digital transformation leveraging classroom technologies to empower 1:1 programs and technology integration initiatives. The Coordinator will be responsible for supporting teachers, administrators, and schools in the District-wide systemization of technology-based learning platforms—specifically Office 365 resources — serving as the primary liaison among WCSD departments. The Coordinator will work collaboratively across offices and departments in the execution of the WCSD technology plan and the strategic plan.

When I say “major,” I mean MAJOR. To put it into context, WCSD has around 100 schools, 64,000 students, and 3,500 teachers. I have been with the district since 1993 as a substitute teacher, 1994 as a classroom teacher, 2006 as a consulting teacher, and 2009 as a 21st-century learning/ed tech specialist. In all of my years in the district, there hasn’t been a project of this magnitude that has such potential for systemic change which will transform teaching and learning. Since 2012, our department has established an incredible professional learning program centered around Microsoft’s 21st Century Learning Design rubrics which stemmed from their global Innovative Teaching and Learning research. We’ve built courses, lesson planning resources, and a solid reputation in our district for the past six years. Finally, the work that we have done has created a strong foundation for our district to launch a project such as this.  

At the most basic level, we are trying to get 240 district-level folks, 240 administrators, 3,500 teachers, and 64,000 students to live in Microsoft Teams. At the highest level, we are trying to provide equitable access to learning and create innovative learning environments to produce future-ready graduates. Sounds easy, right? This is a challenge that I enthusiastically accept. In my interview, I said, “I have to be a part of this.” I just do. 

This project will also support the 1:1 program implementation at three new schools (one elementary and two middle schools) opening in fall 2019, and three more schools opening fall 2020. These schools will serve as models for what we want all of our schools to become eventually. Since its inception, my department has carried the philosophy: “Pedagogy first. Technology second.” While much of this project entails training on the technology tools (Microsoft Teams, OneNote and Class Notebook, Accessibility Tools, Forms, and Sway), all teachers and administrators at these schools will receive professional learning through our existing 21st Century Educator Badge Program. I have detailed the cornerstone course, the Practitioner Badge, on my FLGI blog. Their department heads (middle schools) and grade level leads (elementary school) will also take the Leader Badge course. Their leader projects will focus on creating their SY 2019-2020 professional learning plan, which will outline how their staffs will support the integration and implementation of the Core 21st Century Learning Instructional Practices +Tech. These are the first schools in our district to open as 1:1 schools and to have complete staffs being trained with 21st-century pedagogy and the supporting technology tools. This is the complete package. This is the goal.

Currently, we are working on a draft of the goals and objectives and soliciting feedback from all stakeholders. Many layers of communication need to happen to make sure that all district leadership, site administrators, curriculum, other instructional support providers, and teachers on special assignment (TOSAs) have a good understanding of the mission and what their roles are. Now, we need to consult with the various departments on what we need from them to make this a success. These consultations will take place over the next several weeks and updates on the project will be communicated to everyone on a regular basis.

District-level Microsoft training begins on January 22nd. Our journey into the future begins. Have I mentioned how excited I am? I’m so glad I have the AASAL for Education Leaders and the GEEFL table available to me. They will provide guidance and validation as we move through the process. Stay tuned! I will update you on the progress of the project and how these structures relate to and support this work. 

Terra Graves
Terra Graves
Terra has been an educator for over twenty years. She is the Project Coordinator/Administrator for the 21st Century Learning Department in Washoe County School District, NV. Prior to this position, she taught elementary and middle school, supported novice teachers as a full-time mentor, served as an Ed Tech Specialist, and a Program Specialist in the 21st Century Learning Department. Terra is Flipped Learning 3.0 Level-II Certified and a founding member of the FLGI International Faculty.

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