Jennie Magiera led a community of teachers to explore the use of iPads in schools and develop plans and supports for teachers to teach effectively with the devices.
School: National Teachers Academy
District: Academy for Urban School Leadership / Chicago Public Schools
In the summer of 2010, Jennie Magiera applied for a 1:1 iPad grant for her classroom. When she received them, she was the only teacher in her school who was experimenting with iPads in a 1:1 learning environment. Jennie’s trial run was before “iPads in Education” was a universal term, so she spent hours upon hours Googling how to use these devices in her classroom. Like Jennie, there were other teachers from Chicago who were also exploring this new practice, facing similar challenges and trying to create their own solutions. Throughout the year, this cohort of teachers met as part of the 1:1 pilot program to explore possibilities for their students.
The following year, Jennie and her school administration had the opportunity to expand this grant to other classrooms around the building. Several teachers in her school had already expressed interest and so they banded together to write and win 3 additional carts of devices. Jennie’s principal tapped her to lead and support these teachers as she had already been through the process, survived the bumps and bruises and found success on the other side. Jennie knew that the key to success in this endeavor was being part of an active and supportive community of teachers who were going through a similar experience. She quickly created a collaborative blog space and asked every 1:1 teacher to contribute weekly to its content. Jennie requested that teachers submit anything from a quick question, idea, to a longer post about a challenge or a win inside their classroom. She also asked the teachers to comment on each other’s blogs, answering questions, responding to ideas or pushing each other’s thinking. While it took some reminding and scaffolding for some, the community flourished into an avid group of learners. Teachers were posting pictures, videos and narratives about their practice and student work. They were sharing ideas and seeking help. Through this space Jennie was able to become a hybrid coach – both typing out support from bed at 3am and getting ideas to discuss face-to-face after school at 3pm.
As a result of this team’s work and collaboration, Jennie’s school has gone from a single 1:1 classroom in 2010 to being over 75% 1:1 in 2014. They have worked together to maintain a philosophy of leveraging technology to improve student learning and solve problems – not simply using tech for the sake of tech. Students are gaining greater self-efficacy, agency and excitement about their own learning journey. Last, her community of professional learners and support helped teachers who previously self-identified as technophobes. In just a few months, they have gone from tech-fearful to bloggers, Tweeters and digital authors.