When Vision and Policy Collide…

So I am in this really  weird position called middle management. I like to think I have some control over what happens with my day, and how I go about achieving the goals I set for myself and with my colleagues. The truth? There are way too many roadblocks in my way to best serve the teachers and students in my building.

Let me elaborate… I work in a district that wants to be “world class.” We have wonderful visions for what that looks like, but do not always see those visions through to implementation. When iPads became the hot new thing to have in schools, my building was gifted with 70 of them. We do not have a mobile device management system and there was no plan in place for rolling out the use of these devices, so I trained myself on the Apple Configurator. Those of us “in the trenches” took on the work of making the devices functional before we could help students and teachers integrate them. Problem solved, right? Wrong.

What are the options for getting student created work off of an iPad? Google Drive, Dropbox, social media sites like YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook. Well guess what? Our internet filter policies block social media sites. So, as an alternative, teachers sent home permission slips to parents asking if their kids could set up Google Mail accounts to handle iPad workflow. Seems like a fair solution, right? Nope.

Yesterday I received an email expressing concern over the idea of asking students to set up Google Mail accounts. If the teachers were telling students they needed an account to work on the iPads, our district could technically be liable for problems that could incite with misuse of the account. People above me are concerned that I am encouraging teachers and students to “break the rules.”

This leads me to a philisophical question; well, several of them, really. If we need to work around “rules” to help our students be productive, 21st century learners, isn’t time to reevaluate our rules? Do we want a school district that teaches students how to be responsible and respectful digital citizens or one that controls and censors as a way to save the adults from major headaches? To what end do leaders have a responsibility to see their visions through to the end user? What do you do when vision and policy collide? What do you do when you are stuck in the middle with a choice to make? Break the rules and do what is best for kids? Follow the policies and continue to promote passive consumption of information over the creation of it?

I ask these questions to myself, but also to you – my PLN. How do you justify your own actions and goals when they do not align with the people around you, or even worse, above you? I would love to hear your thoughts.

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One thought on “When Vision and Policy Collide…

  1. Two things pop to mind…
    1) that you are in a time/place where the desire or will to do “big things” exists is big. Change is not easy or always clear, but it is necessary for growth.

    2) The best, most airtight, lawyer reviewed (not hating on lawyers, they have a small place here) policies are, at best, going to be good as guidelines. To suggest that students can create and collaborate in a 100% safe environment is naive. If they are sharing their work in a way that allows for critique, review, and more than just an electronic bulletin board, its possible that “someone will do something”. In fact, its likely. But, the real world lessons, both in terms of digital citizenship and in responding to those who misuse the space provided are priceless. When do you report a comment or note you don’t like? What does healthy debate look like online? These are 21st Century Skills the same as revising and rebuilding a project or sharing it with peers across time zones.

    So, adapt policies? Yes, and like a carton of milk, establish expiration dates. How long will these policies be relevant? Our district figured out early on that using GAFE meant that every time that students typed a Doc, they were “publishing to the web.” New tools = new rules. And then, share as much as you can, as often as you can. Parents, teachers, students and staff are all hungry to see what they can do, make, create, and ultimately, do with others. Hold tech nights, leave a kid’s device plugged into a projector while they work. These are big, exciting things that the stakeholders need to see. We are our own PR, and we owe it to ourselves and our students to represent their work publicly.

    Like

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