By Brian Wildeman, Principal, Remington Middle School, Franklin
I love being a principal. Why do I love being a principal you ask? The reasons are far too many to list for this post, but at the top of the list is being blown away on a daily basis by what students are able to accomplish. As a principal it is extremely rewarding to watch students take the expectations of an open-ended task and completely blow them out of the water. Of all the times I’ve witnessed this, one that stands out to me took place this past year.
To get you to this past year I need to start two years ago in one of our 6th grade classrooms. A parent of one of our 6th graders was spending time in the classroom helping the teacher incorporate technology in the classroom. During the visits it was discovered that for a couple of students in particular technology was “their thing”, and thus an idea was born. At the beginning of last year the same parent contacted me with the following:
“I have a crazy idea to share with you…
I was thinking about how I could support a genius hour once a week for teachers but then I had a BETTER idea. Would it be possible to start a Remington Student Consulting group? The concept involves recruiting a small, elite team of tech savvy students, training them on consulting basics, creating a marketing video and then unleashing them on the faculty.”
I read the email and thought to myself, “This is a really good idea and is definitely worth a shot. Let’s see what the students can do with this.” So I set a meeting between myself and my two “tech savvy” students from the previous year and presented the idea to them. I explained that the main goal of the group would be to help teachers redesign activities and assignments in order to incorporate more technology in their classrooms, while at the same time allowing students to be more creative. With this goal in mind, the two of them were off and running, and immediately decided on Tech Titans as the name for their group. I challenged them with the task of brainstorming what they could do to help meet the goal we had set, and told them we would meet in two weeks to review what they had come up with. To say that I was shocked by what they had come up with in two weeks is an understatement.
Two weeks were up and it was time to see what they had come up with. When we sat down to review their progress they quickly directed me to Google Drive where they had created a Tech Titans folder. Picture the Goonies finding One-Eyed Willie’s treasure and then imagine me opening the folder. I couldn’t believe what they had created! There was a Google slides presentation they had created for the staff. There was a Google form they had created to gather what teachers were currently doing with technology and what they would like to do in the future, and a second Google form that teachers could use as a help request if they had a specific need the Tech Titans could assist with. There was even a website they had created which shared much of this information as well as a calendar of when they were available to provide assistance. At this point I’m sure you are more than impressed but wait, there’s more. It’s one thing to create all of this, but it’s another thing to implement all of this and that’s what they did. The two of them attended a staff meeting and presented their slides to the teachers. They immediately began soliciting requests from teachers and began tracking their progress in a spreadsheet. They helped teachers make Quizlets, embed media into presentations, troubleshoot software, and much more. The creation and operation of the Tech Titans was so successful that I decided to bring them with me to present to the School Committee. Talk about a proud principal moment. Listening to them present and answer questions from the School Committee with such confidence is the reason why I do this job.
So where do the Tech Titans go from here? They have already started working on recruitment in order to expand their operation. They are continuing their work with the staff in an attempt to include more technology in the classroom. They are continuously engaging in research to stay current on the latest technologies available to teachers. At this point I simply try to stay out of their way so they can continue to blow my expectations out of the water.
Brian Wildeman is the Principal of Remington Middle School in Franklin, Massachusetts. He has twelve years of experience working in K-12 public education within Massachusetts, formerly serving as Assistant Principal and Special Education Teacher. Brian holds a Master of Arts in Teaching from North Carolina Central University and a Master of Education degree in Organizational Management from Endicott College. Over the last several years Brian has developed a reputation as the “Dancing Principal” by dancing his students into school on the first day. You can follow him on Twitter @WildemanBrian
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