A Committee That Worked

I have been a part of a lot of committees in my professional life. None has worked towards a goal like the K-12 Technology Committee. This committee was tasked with evaluating the past uses of technology in school and setting a vision for the future. It was made of of an administrative facilitator, a couple of building principals, the Technology Director and a teacher from each building in our district. Each year we would meet during the school day to discuss where we had been. The administrative facilitator had a good solid agenda and we were asked to prepare for the meeting. There were reports, but mainly we discussed teaching and learning and how it changed with access to technology.

I remember vividly the day that we talked about the impact of laptops on our teaching. Each teaching member of the team had been given a laptop the previous year and we discussed how it had changed our personal lives and our professional lives. While this seems like a trite thing to do now, in 2002 it was an amazing experience. We decided more teachers needed laptops and more rooms needed projectors to go with the laptops.

Then in 2004 we talked about having pushed computer labs as far as they would go. The labs were busy places and filled with learning, but everything else we wanted to do with computers required more. We knew students would each have to have a laptop to take our technology use to the next level. We designed a pilot program for the following school year and we were off. Now every student in sixth through twelfth grade has a laptop. A committee with a leader who is willing to get out of the way, a mandate and a vision is essential to good collaboration.

Collaborating with Dale

I remember touring the high school that would eventually hire me for the first time. I was walking down the hall with the principal and saw in the distance Dale. I had been a camp counselor with Dale for three summers and he had told me about the job. I yelled to him like it was camp. Later I learned that he was nervous about that. He wondered if that kind of excitement to see a colleague was going to hurt my chances of getting hired. I was oblivious and they hired me anyway.

At summer camp there is no option but to collaborate. Days are packed with activity and if you share a responsibility with someone you have to trust that they will come through. Our third summer at camp Dale assigned activity leaders. He would come up to me after assigning classes and tell me that I was leading an activity I did not really like to lead, but at least I was leading it with him. That made all the difference. Who I was leading with was more important than what we were leading. From there we could figure it out.

That fall I was assigned to teach the same subject, earth science, as Dale. I think he thought his work was done when he handed over a copy of his lesson plans from the last few years to me, but one night a month into school I called his home with an idea. We both got excited about teaching the way we had counseled. We were up late fine tuning the activity and gathering supplies. Slowly over the next year the course changed. New ideas, new strategies, new goals. The trust and the workflow that we had honed as camp counselors flowed into the classroom. We felt comfortable in our roles, each using our strengths to compliment each other.

Dale helped set my career off on a creative path. Our cooperation helped me to realize that the profession I had entered required using the best of my skills and finding someone to help where I fall short. Our collaboration mixed our talents and really modeled what what God created us to be, creative unique individuals working in community to better the world.