ConnectEd Leadership and Learning

Four days of inspiration, fellowship and guidance give me the hope I’ve been seeking throughout my career as an educator.  The past two years I’ve had the privilege of being a part of the Apple/ConnectEd grant and this weekend we celebrated accomplishments and began building plans for the future.  Thank you Obama!  The ConnectEd grant was designed to bring digital learning opportunities to under-served districts and schools.  It’s goal was to bridge the digital equity gap and from my experience these past two years the grant is well on it’s way to success.  In fact my dream is that the grant continues to grow so that more schools and districts can experience the transformation in culture that those who are currently in the grant are realizing.

Two years ago I started a new job and my first day on the job was the day the school submitted an intent to apply.  Several months later it was announced that the school was going to receive the grant.  Eventually all the paperwork was completed, the laptops, iPads, Apple TVs, and everything needed to support those devices were ordered.  A group of three attended the kick-off event, created a strategic plan, and began implementing it.  Today the school is a technology rich learning environment and ready to transform what learning looks, sounds and feels like.

Throughout my teaching career I’ve heard how schools are failing our students.  How schools don’t and won’t change.  What I have experienced through the Apple/ConnectED grant is that there is a way to bring about the necessary change and keep the momentum going.  It starts with a leadership team who has a shared vision.  That team gets together and develops a plan.  Throughout the school year that plan is monitored and adjustments made as the learning environment improves.  If roadblocks are encountered the plan is revisited and adjusted as needed.  It’s crucial that the leadership team meet on a regular basis in order to stay focused on the plan.  At the end of the year the team gets together and reflects on accomplishments as well as failures.  The team then builds capacity to overcome those roadblocks and sets new goals for the next year.

These past four days have been inspiring, fulfilling and left me with hope for the future.  I know that those participating in the Apple/ConnectEd grant have awesome plans for their student’s education.  The architecture for transforming what learning looks like, feels like and sounds like is here.  Thank you Apple.  Thank you ConnectEd. Thank you Obama!


SWEDU Weekend – What a ride!

It was Sunday evening, May 1st, and the weekend was awesome!  I just spent 53 hours in 2.5 days at the Lean Lab in Kansas City working with inspirational educators on a passion project – dreaming, organizing and planning a celebration of education.

SWEDU stands for Startup Weekend Edu and is an event hosted by the Lean Lab. I decided to go Friday night just to see what it’s all about. Amazing.  That’s all, just amazing!  The Lean Lab is a community of educators, entrepreneurs, and innovators who are growing, testing, and launching ideas to build the future of Kansas City education.  Ideas were pitched and voted on.  My favorite idea was a festival celebrating educators.  The top vote getters were assigned an area and participants could team up with their favorite idea.

Four educators and Lisa, our idea catalyst, teamed up and put words to a pain point.  The problem: there is a lot of negative talk out there about education in Kansas City and we know it isn’t true.  The solution: get our story out that education in Kansas City is revolutionary!  The ideas shot out of our mouths and from our imaginations like a rocket launching into space.  We want a celebration, not a conference, to show the wonderful things our students are doing in their clubs, activities and classrooms.  We want to give voice to teachers, parents and community members who love what educators are doing for their children.  We want to share how education organizations contribute to the education industry. We want to discuss what an education revolution is and how to make it happen.   We planned, received feedback from multiple perspectives, shared resources, adjusted our idea and finally came up with a presentation to show all our hard work.

Sunday afternoon we were ready to pitch our idea.  We’d worked out a business plan, got feedback from educators, students and parents, established potential investors, found an organization to partner with and started our social media campaign.  Presentation time was here. We sat down nervous and excited, watched as others presented their ideas to the judges and listened to their feedback.  Our presentation went well.  There were a few technology glitches, but we made it through. The judges asked only two questions of us and then were off to deliberate.  We waited, talking, wondering, waiting for the decision.  Finally they came out and announced the third place winner, the second place winner and the first place winner was us!  We won 1st place!!!  Middle of the Map: Learn has launched!

I’ll be journaling our progress here.  Please check back often and see how a great idea, a few passionate women volunteers and an innovation mindset can change the story of education!