Friday, August 29, 2014

AUSD #throughglass Fear of the Unknown

Our new school year started on August 13th.  As the Curriculum Coordinator I have decided that Mondays are #noofficeday (the day of the week I will visit sites and get into classrooms).  I am also a Google Glass Explorer.  This year it is my goal to find as many ways as possible to integrate Google Glass into the learning environment throughout the district.  So, during my site visits on August 18th and August 25th, I wore Google Glass into the classrooms I visited.  I sent the following email to inform the school's staff I was visiting:

Good Morning,
Now that I have a year under my belt, I want to spend more time visiting sites and specifically classrooms.  So, I have dedicated Mondays to visit sites, get into classrooms to experience the learning through the eyes of the students.  This will enable me to also get a better understanding of the strength and areas of need related to curriculum, instruction, and assessment.  I will enter quietly and smile hello.  You do not need to introduce me unless it fits in with whatever you are doing.  I will wave on my way out.  I will be using my tablet to take notes directly related to student learning and engagement.  I will share positive feedback with specific examples based on my observations with every teacher I visit.

I will also be wearing my Google Glass as I will be using it to take pictures (only posted with your permission) and share the wonderful learning experiences our students have every day.  If at any time you would like me to video a lesson or activity, I can do that also.

I look forward to getting into your classrooms to see firsthand the learning our students experience. If there is a specific lesson or activity you would like me to observe, please let me know.

Have a great Monday,
Kristen Beck
Curriculum Coordinator,
AuburnUnion School District

I had crafted this email thinking that the biggest obstacle to wearing Google Glass would be the distraction it would cause with the students.  I want the students to get used to seeing me wear it in their classrooms without it being a distraction.  However, what I did not realize was that it evoked fear among the teachers.

I assumed that this email was sufficiently providing information about my observations and specifically wearing Google Glass.  Unfortunately it was not.  I was contacted by teachers throughout the district informing me that there was stress surrounding the fact that I was secretly video taping and taking pictures of  teachers teaching in their classrooms.

I suddenly realized that my perception was completely out of whack with the teachers' perceptions, not because of a lack of communication but because of a lack of knowledge and understanding.  So, then I sent the following email:

Happy Thursday Certificated Staff,
I have been receiving many questions concerning my use of Google Glass as an Educational tool when I go out to visit classrooms.  The purpose of my observations is to know firsthand what is going on in our schools and classrooms so I can better support the teachers and other district employees to positively impact student learning. 
Here is what I have done on my visits so far…
·        During lessons I sit quietly and observe from a student's point of view.  I will take some notes on my TABLET so I can provide positive feedback on student engagement, effective teaching strategies and other POSITIVE things that I see directly impact student learning and understanding.  I will use these notes to send positive feedback notes to the teachers whose rooms I visit.
·        I wear my Google Glass while sitting, although I do not have them "awake" because they are anything but discrete and/or secret.  To take a picture, I have to tap the side of my head, or say "okay glass, take a picture" and that is a major distraction. 
·        If there is an appropriate time and/or place, I will ASK the teacher who's room I am in if I can take pictures of the learning environment - I do not photograph/video students or teachers.  If a teacher requests me to video tape a lesson, I am able to do that with Google Glass and would work with the teacher before hand to plan etc… 
·        When I am walking around campus I only photograph the learning environment NOT people.
·        At this time, Google Glass is a tool for me to document the incredible learning environments provided for our students.  Right now I want to make everyone comfortable having them around.  There are many other valuable ways they can be used to enhance learning and I will be asking for volunteers later in the year to try the other tools.

Please let your site administrator know if you would prefer I did not wear them when visiting your classroom.  He/she will compile a list so that when I visit your site I will know when to remove them and put them away.

Thanks so much,
Have a great Thursday!!
Kristen Beck
Curriculum Coordinator,
AuburnUnion School District

This email eased minds and became a step in our district's increased understanding of how technology can be an instructional tool.  We are in the infancy of integrating technology as a learning tool and as I work with teachers and site administrators to facilitate the integration we will continue to hit some speed bumps along the way.  I will continue to openly communicate and clarify as we learn and grow together as a district.  Please copy, cut, and paste as needed if you experience similar situations.