What should you do when an outside district administrator asks to observe your progress in developing a Bring Your Own Device culture on you brand new high school campus? What if your building is still under construction, classes are taking place in temporary locations and some crucial technology has yet to arrive? If you are Dr. Lesli Guajardo, you say “sure!”
Braswell High School recently hosted administrators from Eastland ISD who were interested in learning about the digital learning environment of BHS, and specifically how personal devices are utilized and managed. Although our campus and our culture is a work in-progress, we took this request as an opportunity to check in on our goals, celebrate successes and determine next steps.
Our visitors were presented with how it all started. According to Dr. Guajardo, it was strategic hiring decisions. Then, came the BYOD Task Force, which began with veteran DISD librarian, Noel Hill and Associate Principal, Dr. Laura Ice. Enthusiastic and risk-taking teachers were added to the BYOD Task Force to support teacher buy-in. By the time I joined, many priorities and expectations had already been decided. We went on to develop a campus BYOD contract, signage (like the poster you see above), and plans for communicating our plans with parents via social media and face-to-face meetings.
The second-phase of the visit include touring classrooms. We saw teachers utilizing interactive whiteboards, Google Classroom, and various digital media and apps with students. We also witnessed classes and small groups in collaborative spaces. Students were using Chromebooks, tablets, and phones to review, to complete formative assessments, and to engage in learning games. While we walked around in a collaborative space filled with Math students working on an activity, one student explained that she was watching a YouTube video (posted in Google Classroom by her teacher) of her teacher using a digital whiteboard app to explain how you find the slope of line.
The third and final part of the visit included a discussion about where we are now and how we plan to address issues that will arise. We talked about device management, classroom management, training for teachers, and digital citizenship concerns. One way we have decided to address campus concerns and needs is through a weekly conversation. Our BYOD Task Force has transformed into the BHS Technology Team. We meet every Friday to discuss technology issues and how to handle them. Through shared accountability and calendar deadlines, our team meetings help us stay focused on our goal, which is to support our teachers and students as they teach and learn in a BYOD environment.
As a part of the technology team and a co-host to our Eastland ISD visitors, I was reminded that reflection is a powerful tool for improvement. I am tremendously proud of what we are doing at Braswell High School, but I know that positive school culture and digital leadership cannot be taken for granted. We cannot set it and forget it. It will take regular analysis and work to maintain it. With strong leadership and so many risk-takers on board, I feel confident that we can and will continue to reach our goals and celebrate success. Check out more of what is happening at BHS by following us on Twitter @braswellhs and Facebook https://www.facebook.com/braswellhs/.
Guest Blogger: Barbara Kinast
Barbara Kinast is the Instructional Technology Specialist for Braswell High School. This is Barbara’s first year in Denton ISD, but her 12th year in public school education. She has a depth and variety of experience in librarianship and technology integration. Through building relationships, training, and daily problem-solving, she works to provide digital leadership and support in the Braswell Zone and the greater DISD community. You can follow her on Twitter - @Mrs_Kinast.