Administrators Need to Stop Worrying About Data | NJ Principal

Last week blogger of the week, NJ Principal Eric Sheninger, spoke out against fellow NJ Principal Anthony Orsini and his efforts to his students from using social media tools. This week, Sheninger takes time out of his administrative duties for an interview including tips and advice for administrators and teachers on incorporating social media and web 2.0 in the classroom.

Q: What motivates your passion about educational technology?

My passion for educational technology stems form the fact that I want to engage my students in the learning process with the very tools they are immersed with on a daily basis.  Integrating technology with sound pedagogy is at the heart of authentic learning and preparing students for success in the 21st Century.

I have seen firsthand how my own learning and professional growth have increased at an extremely fast pace since becoming knowledgeable about powerful resources.  This epiphany has become a catalyst for me in terms of acquiring technologies and providing relevant training to my staff on how to properly integrate these tools for learning.  Best of all, many of these tools are available to educators free of charge and foster collaboration, creativity, problem solving, communication, and innovation.

Q: What tips do you have for administrators, advisors, and teachers getting started with using web 2.0, social media and other technologies in the classroom?

Administrators need to stop worrying about data such as standardized test scores and redirect their attention towards an emphasis on student learning.  They need to realize that these technologies are not going away and will only become more prevalent in society.  Administrators must remove self-imposed barriers such as filters and open their eyes to endless possibilities to reach learners in unique ways.

Teachers and advisors need to stop making excuses about not having the time to learn how to properly integrate these tools.  If learning and student success are important then there is time available.  Isn’t this why we decided to pursue a career in education? Taking risks and utilizing a variety of instructional resources that are readily available should be supported and a part of every school’s culture.  Teachers must also realize that they don’t have to tackle multiple technologies at once.  They need to determine which few might work best in their respective courses and master them first.

Q: How do you motivate, train, and support your teachers on incorporating the above tools in the classroom? How has the response/usability been?

You motivate staff by modeling effective use and publicizing the successes of educators who have effectively integrated educational technology into the classroom.  Collecting feedback from students on how these tools facilitated engagement, learning, and understanding of the content will also serve as a great motivational force.  A commitment to sustainable professional development that is meaningful will not only provide the proper training, but also ensure that the necessary support structures are in place.

In my school teachers have begun to embrace this renaissance by incorporating iPods, skype, wikis, Google Docs, Wordle, and podcasting.  Specific examples can be found at my blog.  Teachers need to feel that they have the freedom to take risks and know that if they fail once and a while it isn’t the end of the world.  This is how you foster innovation and move towards change.

Q: What are some of the benefits of using social media and web 2.0 tools in the classroom? Do you have any favorite projects you have observed or facilitated that you can share?

These resources are engaging, easy to use, and can be easily used to augment instruction.  Skyping with an Israeli Holocaust historian, the creation of Wordles on the Declaration of Independence, creating a forms using Google Docs to collect professional development information, and using iPods with a downloaded scavenger hunt on a field trip to the MET in NYC are some of my favorite projects.

Q: What are a few of your favorite blogs or podcasts to follow?

Q: What 3 words would you use to describe education today?

  1. Innovative
  2. Collaborative
  3. Transparent

-Eric Sheninger, @NMHS-Principal

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