Misk Schools is a community of learners. By modeling a thirst for learning, we all play an integral role in our students’ education. To elevate the level and pace of learning of our students Misk Schools has created a campus environment that presents opportunities for exploration and inquiry at every turn. From embodied learning systems such as SMALLabs; immersive virtual reality experiences via Oculus Rift and Google Expeditions; experiential adventures with robotics such as Beebots and LEGO Mindstorm EV3; to enriching our Computational Thinking challenges with Parrot Mambo Drones, our campus resembles more a massive creative and invention space than it does a traditional campus as found elsewhere. Having this incredible space and offering such an array of learning opportunities and resources brings with it its own set of challenges. Mainly, that we must go the extra mile to support our teachers in ways that reflect the complexity of the tools at their disposal.
According to Wood and Jocius (2014), as schools continue to increase available of digital resources, teachers don’t have the tools to leverage the technology for authentic and meaningful purposes. Too often, electronic devices are used to only develop basic skills. Similarly, Ertmer, Ottenbreit-Leftwich, Sadik, E. Sendurur and P. Sendurur (2012) found that a variety of external barriers prevents teachers from using technology in ways that align more closely with their beliefs. Those barriers are usually related to access to digital resources, which is something we do not suffer from. Another barrier identified by Ertmer, Ottenbreit-Leftwich, Sadik, E. Sendurur and P. Sendurur (2012) is support. It is in supporting our teachers where we have placed our focus on from the start.
Following are details of the various support layers in place for our teachers:
- Digital Literacy Coordinator – To best support our teachers, and to foster a transformation of learning in the classroom, we have had a Digital Literacy Coach from the first year of operation. The position has morphed over time into the Digital Literacy Coordinator (DLC) as we added the Computational Thinking Program. The DLC’s role is paramount to supporting our teachers and ensuring digital resources are used in the most optimal way. Teachers meet with the DLC on a regular schedule for coaching sessions or to explore new ideas for integrating digital resources into their lessons. The DLC is also present during collaborative meetings to provide resources for integration.
- Technical Support – Teachers receive support from our technology support team, to resolve any technical issue reported. Our IT support team is ready when network printing is not working to when students make their own presentations and need audio and video.
- Professional Development – Throughout the year our teachers take advantage of continued professional development opportunities such as attending the BETT trade show and conference in London last week and/or taking part in Apple events. Through our partners we also offer a variety of online and on-campus workshops and courses throughout the year.
A unique part of our ecosystem is that teachers often have access to the creators of some of the systems we have in place, such as the Misk Schools OS mobile app and the SMALLab Learning embodied learning system. By being proximate to the creators our teachers influence the continued development of the tools we use.
Misk Schools is a unique school. In ways that often creates amazement and sometimes even disbelief when shared with colleagues from around the world, the availability of digital resources, and the support layers available to our teachers make ours a model for continue professional learning and development worthy of envy. The level of integration of digital resources our teachers bring to every lesson ensures our students‘ experience in our classrooms closely resembles their digital world outside.