At the Learning Counsel’s Phoenix area Learning Leadership Symposium this year, the participating talent was extra talented, and that may be especially true for this year’s Phoenix Administrator’s panel. Representing the Grand Canyon State in this year’s panel were Dr. Leslie Standerfer, Assistant Superintendent of Academics at Buckeye Union High School District and Dr. Dani Portillo, Superintendent of Roosevelt Elementary District #66.
Our host, Learning Counsel CEO LeiLani Cauthen, kept the discussion lively as she dove into the day’s major themes including change – change within panelists’ own districts, changes brought on by technology, and changes they see in education moving forward. According to Cauthen, “We're in a period of really big change right now and I want to talk about change with the two of you. Talk about what's happening for you and then we'll talk about morals and workflow.”
“I think what we're seeing is some of that tech use that took place because it had to has benefited teachers and they are using technology to the fullest,” said Dr. Standerfer, “but you also have that pushback because some of the things we did like having teachers teach on camera and teach live is not best for live instruction and now that we're back to live instruction, I think you have that push of people saying well why can't you still film the class and those kinds of things. Where we had students though go fully online, we're seeing most of them come back. We're a high school district of close to 5500 we only have 190 students staying fully online at this point and we have the capability for them to do so but I think what kids missed was the sense of community and the socialization and I think they miss the human touch with their teachers, we now have kids who maybe as freshmen were online and they have that same teacher again as a junior or senior and they're finally getting to build a relationship with that teacher because they didn't feel like they did online.”
“One of the changes that we're experiencing now,” said Dr. Portillo, “is ensuring that we're really focused on our instructional model and delivery of learning. I'm using technology as an enhancement to ensure that our technology is supporting us in our quest to make learning more engaging and more individualized for our students, rather than just using technology to replace a whole group type of learning.
“There's the art of teaching,” Portillo continued, “and the technology could be the same as having a curricular adoption. The vendors don't teach kids, the teachers teach kids, but we really have to get back to the art of teaching. The management, that delivery of instruction and what I see technology doing is providing an Avenue or a way for our teachers to be able to again save some of that time like you said and through some of the different tools that are out there, really being able to use their time more wisely to reflect on the needs of their students and reflect on the ability of their students to be able to interact not only with the teacher but with each other and creating those opportunities with technology - maybe being a tool that would help them to get the kids engaged but really there's that whole art of how do we interact with each other as learners that's missing and it takes time to be able to plan for that. How do I teach my students to engage the listener and how do I teach my students to be a listener that's really thinking and focusing on the words that the speaker is saying, and having that interaction with my own knowledge that has to be taught in in a certain way.
“I would love technology to help our teachers save time on the other stuff, on finding of all of those materials and sequencing them so they can then spend the time reflecting how to facilitate that learning among students and have time to think through the teaching of those skills and also to have a greater Joy in the time that they are spending preparing for their lessons.”
Perhaps the greatest thing about the Administrator’s Panel is that it is absolutely unscripted. Anything can happen, and you’ll see the ideas flow in equal measures of passion and brilliance. Such is the case with this Phoenix Panel. Cauthen, Standerfer and Portillo were on the money, and the end result was unfiltered, unscripted and unending ideas that you are free to plug into your own school or district back home. This discussion is an idea depository, full of golden ideas that can be mined in 48 minutes and 23 seconds. Got your shovel and pick in hand? Let’s go.