The effective use of digital learning tools in classrooms can increase student engagement, help teachers improve their lesson plans, and facilitate personalized learning.
But technology is advancing very quickly, and every day, there are more and more possibilities for integrating technology in education. In addition, some educators are not familiar with many of the pieces of technology, with a few still possibly hesitant to integrate new tech at all.
In this episode of EdTech Heroes, host Nef Dukes welcomes Katie Maddox, the instructional technology coordinator at Chilton County School District. Katie gets into the importance of implementing technology in schools and describes her journey from teacher to technology coordinator. Katie and Nef discuss the value of “one-to-one” in schools and how teachers’ work can be made more accessible.
👋 Name: Katie Maddox
🛠 What she does: Katie is the instructional technology coordinator at Chilton County School District.
🏫 Company: Chilton County School District
✍️ Noteworthy: Katie has a bachelor's degree in elementary education from the University of Alabama and a master's degree in education from Auburn University at Montgomery. Plus, she is a Google-certified trainer and an Alabama Leaders in Educational Technology member. Katie began teaching sixth-grade math and science in 2013 at Jemison Middle School in Chilton County. She has been there her entire career and is now the instructional technology coordinator at Chilton County School District in Alabama.
📱 Where to find Katie: Linkedin l Website
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The amount of technological resources available can be intimidating. Technology has advanced over the years and is integrated into everything we do. A lot has changed in the last ten years, and Katie explains how technology integration and the role of the tech coordinator have changed as tech has become more prevalent in education.
"When I first started teaching, ten years ago, in the classroom, we had two computer carts for an entire school building to share. And now, most schools in our district have implemented one-to-one, and thinking about how much we have fast-forwarded, even in the past three years, has been insane. Teachers have an abundant amount of resources, and it's not thinking about, 'What can I use and make this work?'
And now, it's transitioning from trying to pull together resources to just picking resources because they have such an abundance of things available to them. So, it's flipped where you're not struggling to find things; you're struggling to find ways to use the things you [have]."
The concept of one-to-one tech in schools. The term one-to-one refers to programs that provide all the students in a school, district, or state with their own laptop, netbook, tablet computer, or other mobile devices. According to Katie, most schools in Chilton County are implementing this model.
"With funding that was provided to the education department and then trickled down to districts from them, we were able to purchase devices that made every school in our county one-to-one. So that's awesome and a huge blessing for us, and it is a privilege that we have the ability to maintain it. Some schools are still using a device checkout program. Some schools are just using it within their school buildings and the devices stay there, but pretty much in every campus that we have — minus some of the lower elementary, K-1 classrooms — every student in that building has a Chromebook that they can use."
From a classroom teacher to a tech coordinator 👩🎓
"I was a classroom teacher for five years for the sixth grade, and then I transitioned to being a school technology coordinator and had the privilege of teaching technology as a special [subject], and also of having some coaching time and things like that.
So, I did have somewhat of a transition, but I've gone from mentoring just students and teachers in one building to having to be cognizant of things that I'm doing for teachers of all levels across the district; so incorporating secondary — which is not my background, but I'm learning lots of great things about incorporating technology into the secondary curriculum and just being the main line of support for teachers across the district."
Advantages of the one-to-one model in schools 👩💻
"Within the school building where that network is supported, every student having a device means that the teacher can implement some type of blended classroom approach where maybe a couple of days a week students are doing some self-exploration and then do some guided instruction with a teacher another day.
We have high school students who are taking dual enrollment classes and accessing labs at school, and they're getting not only high school credit but also college credit at the same time. Students are able to explore things that would never have been possible before without that technology in those devices.
Teachers in elementary classrooms are using it for supplemental learning and center rotations while they're working with a small group in person; these kids are doing remedial learning on a program on the Chromebook. So it opens up a lot of doors for teachers to be creative and use the resources that are available to them."
Resources for playing ‘catch-up’💡
"There is an enormous amount of pressure right now to play catch-up for these kids who really didn't even have a traditional education placement for 18 months, with the COVID pandemic and the virtual learning option, and things like that. Some students were not in a school building for 18 months.
So, that catch-up is a tremendous amount of pressure for anyone. There are so many societal changes and so many issues going on today that teachers and students feel the pressure go up.
And the amount of resources! We have so many things, and it takes a true aspect of the leadership in the buildings to drill down and figure out, 'Okay, this is what's working; this is what's not working; this is how we're going to fix it; and this is what we're going to do,' and it's taking those one step at a time. And you really have to bring everybody together. There's a tremendous amount of turnover right now. It's a hard time to be on those front lines."
Servant leadership model 📝
"In an administrative capacity in a school, we have to be that for the teachers. We have to be willing to listen to them …
That parent that's blowing up your email, send it over to me. I can take care of that for you too.' And I know that it's near impossible to do that for every person in your building and to juggle all your responsibilities as an administrator, but that's one of those things that we have to carve out time for — to tackle a few people each week and help take those things off their plates.
And that goes a long way with the morale of your staff because if your teacher knows that you're willing to step up and take things off their plate and help juggle those responsibilities, they'll respect you a lot more. And in turn, they'll put a lot more into their job for your school, too."
[06:01] "We have made so many things available to our teachers that now it's kind of taking that step back, honing in, picking what works for you, and continuing to support that infrastructure and make those things work."
[10:19] "One thing to remember is that in no way, shape, or form is that computer going to replace that teacher experience. It's just enhancing the learning, and the teacher still has to be the facilitator to make sure that things are being utilized correctly and students are on task. Nothing is ever going to replace that aspect, but the possibility of what can be done and enhanced learning is just too great to not take advantage of."
[13:00] "Without teachers, no other profession is going to exist. Teachers are the ones who create our professions, who encourage students to go the distance and become a trade worker, or go to a university and get a career. They're necessary in order for this world to work, and we've got to support them on every level they need."
[19:58] “And so, a lot of us began using Screencastify to record our lessons virtually to send out to our students. You know, one thing that's super great about it is that, especially for your littles, it's so important for them to see your face. … Screencastify is my go-to screen recorder.”