Leading out first TED day

Thursday was an important day. I’d been telling my team this for a couple of months. But in a short term where we have battled staff unexpectedly leaving, unbelievable pressure, our highest ever ticket numbers and organising the biggest network rebuild we have ever done in the biggest middle school in the UK – I was nervous if we had the chance to prepare the day I was hoping for.

Right now teachers and management are under more pressure then ever before. Results, finance, staffing, recruitment and retention and many are finding their ways at some point in a conversion or life after conversion to academy.

Indeed, in all of our own schools these issues are being faced.

ICT is, now it’s working effectively in our schools, taking a back seat. This is fine, we can deliver and manage a robust network with support that impresses and cheers up with fast response times. (And I have the figures to back that up – 96% believe we deliver a fast and efficient service. 60% strongly agree we do. )

So Thursday was a TED day at our home school agreed in place of twilight and volunteer sessions. It’s the last day of term and staff were tired and counting down hours.

With these in mind the aim of the day was simple- excite to innovate. Remind staff of the huge resources we have in terms of equipment and staffing. Hands on sessions that provided useful help and allowed time for staff to get to try it and learn it. Nothing too complicated.

Starting the day off with Disney tunes – on the preface of it was different and made people smile = we entered into a 1hr intro. Get the important info in before breaking off, network and staffing update, survey responses.

Then, into Twitter for staff – real CPD opportunities and support for staff already working above and beyond was, I hoped welcomed. No action required but an insight to possibilities.

Followed by three sessions, with groups divided by ability.

WordWall and tablets.

We have had wordwall for 2 years and use is very low. We have since rolled out at first schools and deployed 400 tablets, so a whole new angle to come at. With tablets in classrooms instantly available – wordwall is THE solution to integrating IT into lessons easily. Collaborative working and sharing materials again lessens the burden on tired staff.

OneDrive, OneNote and Skype for classrooms.

 All our teaching staff a TAs have iPads. We have 110 for students. The ability for onedrive to to now simplify the sharing and editing of documents across platforms and the offer of free office for staff and students really went down well with staff. Combined with a demonstration of OneNote staff could see the future, now. Collaborative anywhere working to suit them with minimal hassle.

Skype for classrooms was as simple as a video introducing the possibilities. And the offer of us doing everything else to set it going for staff.

And then came our final session: minecraft edu.

Minecraft edu is a future learning tool. There are no clear, quick and easy uses at a middle school, but there are exciting possibilities to use the tool within existing scopes of work now staff are at least aware of it.

An easy session, where you can easily see those open to possibilities and those who hide behind a shroud of “it’s beyond me”

The thing is – in our school ICT is integral. And I reaffirmed that our support team, 7 strong with 3 tiers is theirs for use.

My principal have me the best compliment the other week- “you are not like normal network managers”

Gone are the days where we can hide in our offices. We are part of the learning system, our systems enable – and we can’t deploy and expect we should teach and develop.

The techs were well out of their comfort zone doing these sessions – but now relish the opportunity of seeing their ideas help pupils learn.

I’ve never been prouder to see the ideas I planted 4 years ago on Monday reach this stage. The impact we have is immense, the success rarely celebrated – the failures thrust into us and remembered for much longer.

Am I proud I’m not a normal network manager? You better believe it. My staff are not normal technicians. We pick the people and train the tech because the people are what you can’t train. That’s why celebrating success with them is very enjoyable and as good as when we rally around each other when we fail.