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District Leaders: Focus on Content First, Tech Second

Posted by on in Education Leadership
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“True teams are made when you put aside individual wants for

collective

good.”
– Chiney Ogwumike

Today I’m attending a professional conference hosted in our district and jointly organized by local school districts – North Shore School District 112Township High School District 113, and our District, the Deerfield Public Schools – District 109; we also welcome our friends from the Bannockburn School District 106. At#TechCampNS, Tech Camp North Shore, we have an impressive collection of workshops, presentations, tools, messages, and professional camaraderie that strengthens our community and our communities as we educate all children PK-12th grades.

One of the main messages about our innovative future focus is that at the heart of all of our purpose is, has been, and will remain STUDENT LEARNING! We are fortunate to have an abundance of high quality devices and resources and it’s important to keep the human factor in content curation and it’s essential to keep the teacher-student relationship at the heart of our work!

I published the following information, related to the TechCampNS focus at http://blog.discoveryeducation.com/blog/2015/08/20/district-leaders-focus-on-content-first-tech-second/

Much has been written about districts and schools “going 1:1,” issuing tablets, computers, or other electronic devices to every student. As the quantity of devices in the hands of students grows, many leaders like me believe these changes cannot succeed without supporting transformative change in student learning experiences. Namely, I’d like to see a focus on content first, tech second. It is far more important to enhance learning via high quality content and instructional transformation than it is to simply replace a pencil with a tablet and hope for the best.

There are numerous recent blog posts in the wake of #pencilchat on Twitter, where educators and others discussed the popular “pencil analogy” regarding technology in the classroom. The points made (no pun intended) in this discussion are varied, but an important theme emerged that I feel warrants attention: simply putting a pencil in a child’s hand won’t make them a great writer. However, if you give a student a pencil coupled with powerful, meaningful content and exceptional instruction from an energized and committed educator—a great writer may just emerge. When that occurs, is it the pencil or the content that deserves the credit?

As Andrew Marcinek writes in his book, The 1:1 Roadmap Setting the Course for Innovation in Education: “Technology is more than just ‘Computer Class;’ it is a literacy that must be threaded throughout the fabric of a school. In a 1:1 environment, you’re preparing students to be responsible citizens of the physical and digital worlds. But it’s easy to get overwhelmed with devices; you have to have a plan for technology that keeps learning at center stage.”

Marcinek’s point regarding keeping the focus on learning cannot be lost in the rush to embrace ed tech as a panacea. Though I am a strong advocate for instructional change as the catalyst for a substantive change in student outcomes, content is as important as instruction in the classroom. Content is curriculum, content is resources that support curriculum, content is the “what” being taught in our classrooms.

device-tablet-2

In the recent era of No Child Left Behind, accountability has been “king.” Many who advocate for the Common Core State Standards or other Learning Standards believe content is “king.” I believe that transformative instruction combined with exceptional content is “king.”

In the 1:1 Transformative Learning Environment era, it is incumbent upon leaders to insist on a new instructional focus. One that is student-centered with supportive, rich, and dynamic content. We must also be certain we are teaching actual digital content, rather than merely digitized content. Simply taking a standard textbook and making it available as a PDF is not digital content—it will not transform our schools or help students achieve.

True digital content is accessible on the myriad device options in classrooms and supports progressive instructional practices that focus on the student as the driver. Digital content changes, updates, and links to real people and current events as they are happening. Textbooks are decades old in many places, making content outdated and stale. Tech books and truly digital content is updated, revised, refreshed, and real. This allows for and supports a concept of content rich and instructionally fresh approaches to learning.

These devices are often revolutionary. But a device does not magically create innovation, nor does a device magically increase student engagement. What we need are devices deployed in an environment rich with dynamic content and full of engaging instruction. Only then will we produce outstanding results. I see it every day and my aim is to support every classroom’s transformation into an engaging, motivating, challenging learning space for our nation’s most precious assets – our children!

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Michael Lubelfeld, Ed.D. Mike currently serves as the superintendent of schools in the Deerfield, IL Public Schools (District 109).  Mike is married and is the father of two young children. He lives and works in suburban Chicago. Mike attended the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in political science, with a minor in criminal justice. He holds a Master of Arts in teaching and Educational Specialist in administration and supervision from National-Louis University. Mike earned his Doctor of Education in curriculum and instruction from Loyola University of Chicago, where his published dissertation was on Effective Instruction in Middle School Social Studies. Mike has had a variety of experiences as an educational professional. He began his educational career as an elementary and middle school teacher, prior to assuming roles of associate principal and principal at the middle school level, and as an assistant superintendent for personnel services (PK-8). He is also on the adjunct faculty at National Louis University in the Department of Educational Leadership. He can be found on Twitter at @mikelubelfeld and he is the co-moderator of #suptchat - the superintendent educational chat on Twitter with Nick Polyak, and he and Polyak co-authored the book The Unlearning Leader: Leading for Tomorrow’s Schools Today (Rowman-Littlefield Publishers).


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION,


Presentations, Certifications


American Association of School Administrators (AASA) National Superintendent Certification Program (2014-2016)


Illinois School of Advanced Leadership (ISAL) through the IASA and Cardinal Stritch University (Milwaukee, WI) Earned title of Fellow (2012-2014)


2017 - Keynote presenter & breakout presenter EdTechTeam Leadership Symposia (OH, CA)


2016 - Presenter at the IASA State Superintendent Conference - Social Media for Supts.


2016 - Co-facilitator IASA Aspiring Superintendent Academy


2016- Co-Director Legislation for the Lake County Superintendents


2015, 2016, 2017 – Presenter at the AASA National Council in Ed – Social Media for Supts.


2015 – Co-Presenter at Suburban Superintendent Roundtable for Northern Illinoishttp://t.co/x8Ls5Ddg00


2015 – Presenter at IASBO A New Design Frontier for Next Generation Learning


2015 – Panelist Leading for Transformative Change at Tech & Learning Live Chicago


2015 – Presenter at Illinois CTO Summit (Center for Digital Education and the Illinois Educational Technology Leaders (IETL)) Leadership and Vision


2015 – Presentation at Discovery Education Superintendent Digital Transition Symposium in Washington, D.C.Telling Our Story: Innovation in DPS109


2015 Presentations at Joint Annual Conference - Social Media for Superintendents and Effective Building Design


2015 Presenter at Illinois Association of School Administrators Annual Conference


2014-present Co-moderate national/international monthly Twitter chat #suptchat


2011 Illinois ASCD Leadership Institute Presenter – Using Danielson Frameworks


 


Publications


Bullis B., Filippi J., Lubelfeld M. (2016). I Hear What You’re Saying...And I Respect You. Journal of Scholarship and Practice, Summer 2016/Volume 13. No.2, 44-54.


 


In Publication: Bullis B., Filippi J., Lubelfeld M. (2017). Managing Up. Principal (NAESP)


 


Bullis B., Filippi J., Lubelfeld M. (2016). Reimagined NGSS learning spaces: Principals as holistic school improvement leaders. Principal Leadership, 52-54.


 


Himebaugh G., Lubelfeld M. (2016). Inspiring a Shared Vision. Update, Spring (Leadership Issue), 24-29.


 


Lubelfeld M. Rev. of Writing Pathways: Performance Assessments and Learning Progressions, by Lucy Calkins.ILASCD Summer Newsletter, Summer 2016, Volume 62, No. 2: 25-27.


 


Lubelfeld M., Polyak N. (2017). The Unlearning Leader: Leading for Tomorrow’s Schools Today. Lathan, MD: Rowman-Littlefield. -March 2017


 


Lubelfeld M., Polyak N., Seibert A. (2016). Leaders in Learning Through AASA’s Digital Consortium. School Administrator, February, 32-33.


 


Other (Memberships, other experiences)


Member:


Suburban Schools Superintendents (SSS)


Illinois & American Association of School Administrators (IASA/AASA,


National Association of School Superintendents (NASS)


Ed Leader 21 Member


Illinois & Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD/ILASCD),


Illinois & American Association of School Business Officials (IASBO),


The Horace Mann League of the USA,


Rotary Club of Deerfield, IL (Secretary 2014-16)


Advisory board member for the Digital Consortium (AASA)


2016 Superintendent Advisory Council - Center for Digital Education


Member Education Advisory Board - Hon. Bob Dold, U.S. Congressman 10th District


Member of Community Advisory Committee on Education – Rep. Scott Drury (IL-58th)


Twitter http://twitter.com/mikelubelfeld


Bilingual (English/Spanish)


Enrolled in intensive Spanish language and Mexican culture classes at the Cuauhnahuac Institute in Cuernavaca, Mexico; lived with Mexican family, 1992


 


Awards/Recognition


INSPRA video website


NSPRA (National School Public Relations Association) Superintendents to Watch 2015-2016


2016 LifeTouch Memory Mission to the Dominican Republic represented the AASA


NASS (National Assn of School Superintendents) Superintendent of the Year 2015 Finalist


INSPRA (IL Chapter NSPRA) 2014 Distinguished Service Award of Excellence - Superintendent’s Task Force for Middle Level Education


The science labs won the Learning by Design Award for “Outstanding Project” in the Spring of 2016 as well as an Award of Merit in the Exhibition of Educational Environments Awards at the Joint Annual Conference of the Illinois Association of School Administrators, the Illinois Association of School Boards, and the Illinois Association of School Business Officials in 2015.  


 


DPS109 Science lab project was featured:


Johnsos, C., Monberg, G. (2015). Built on Value. Update, Fall (Facilties Isssue), 30-33.


 


Ullman, E. (2016). The Intelligent Use of Space. Tech & Learning Volume 36, Number 5, 34-38.


 


Received a 1997 Award of Excellence for Caring to Challenge, from the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (IMSA)


Selected to represent Illinois on the Social Studies Teachers’ Study Seminar in Germany, sponsored by the ICSS and the Armonk Institute, 1995


 


Additional -podcasts and edu talk radio interviews


Quoted in:


Gravel. R.J. (2015). Discover, Acknowledge, Commit: Guidelines for Adopting Administrative Software. School Administrator, December, 44-45.


DPS109 Science lab project was featured:


Johnsos, C., Monberg, G. (2015). Built on Value. Update, Fall (Facilties Isssue), 30-33.


 


Ullman, E. (2016). The Intelligent Use of Space. Tech & Learning Volume 36, Number 5, 34-38.


 


Received a 1997 Award of Excellence for Caring to Challenge, from the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (IMSA)


Selected to represent Illinois on the Social Studies Teachers’ Study Seminar in Germany, sponsored by the ICSS and the Armonk Institute, 1995

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