Welcome to the Stratosphere

I just finished reading Michael Fullan’s Stratosphere: Integrating Technology, Pedagogy, and Change Knowledge. Here are my thoughts…

It’s not often that I read a book and am agreeing almost completely with the message and recommendations.  That is why this book truly has energized me. I have always felt that it should never be just about the technology.  Technology is the vehicle used to engage, excite and assist in creating authentic ‘real world’ experiences for students, but planning should never start with the technology itself.

Our answer in this book will not be let’s load up technology in schools– I call this a “wrong driver”– but rather, let’s rethink how technology can be used at our service as well as push us to do even more. (p13)

Learning is key, and nothing will take the place of a great teacher who understands the pedagogy involved in learning.  It has to start with the pedagogy: the teacher’s craft.

The solution, says Fullan, and I wholeheartedly agree is about:

  1. Make it all about learning.
  2. Let Technology permeate.
  3. Engage the whole system.

As leaders we need to support teachers in the journey. Starting with the learning which involves student centered, student discovery, student and teacher collaboration and authentic problem solving exploration. Once the climate of learning is nurtured and fed then the technology adds the ‘spice’. Although all three parts are important, I think the third is the ‘glue’ to the vision and change that needs to occur. Engaging the whole system to me involves building teacher leaders who support their peers, as well as encouraging collaboration and sharing throughout the school building and across the district.  Flooding schools with techy gadgets does not increase learning. On the same level, although pockets of wonderful tech integrators are great, they won’t bring about the changes needed throughout building, district, and system wide. In other words they won’t ‘engage the whole system’. As change leaders we need to support a vision, steer that vision, and facilitate acceleration (p 64).

Final notes: This book is a fast read, is packed with research to support the claims, and gives you the tools to move forward and develop a plan within your school.  I recommend you read it, share it with your leaders and your teachers, then go forth and make it happen.

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