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  • Andrew T Schwab 9:04 am on March 21, 2020 Permalink | Reply  

    Toilet Paper, Bread and Eggs. 

    Wow. We went from planning for schools to shutdown, to schools being shutdown, to being sheltered in place for a few weeks to being told to stay at home indefinitely. And that was all since just last week.

    I was going to venture out to look for bread and eggs this morning (failed at two attempts yesterday), but I’m not ready for more disappointment just yet. We still have toilet paper, so I decided to revive my blog instead. There is a lot on my mind at the moment.

    “No plan survives contact with the enemy.”

    – Helmuth Von Moltke

    School districts everywhere are scrambling to figure out how to educate thousands of students in their homes. Distance, online, flexible, at-home (my personal favorite) learning is the new reality and after a decade of talking about the importance of EdTech, we’re now living it. If only we’d seriously invested in modernizing our education system and keeping pace with the rapid change in the world outside the classroom walls, we wouldn’t all be scrambling now in the face of COVID-19. But I digress.

    We’re in this thing now and I have concerns. Concerns about expectations. Concerns about access. Concerns about up-skilling staff. Concerns about everyone’s wellbeing and home situations. Serious concerns because a lot of education leaders right now are thinking that teachers and kids are going to do the exact same thing online that they were doing a few weeks ago in their classrooms. That approach will break the public education system as we know it. Because the truth is, the current education system is from a different era. It’s a throwback to a world without the Internet, or SnapChat, or X-Box, or Facebook, or YouTube. The modern education system was already crumbling under its own weight of legacy and obsolescence.

    “If we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them of tomorrow.”

    ― John Dewey

    What makes school, SCHOOL? Every educational leader thinking about how to educate their kids remotely should take a moment and read Will Richardson‘s book Why School. Seriously, go read it. If you’re a teacher, gift a copy to your administrator. It’s a sound investment in the future. Here’s why. Let’s do a thought experiment. How many of your students would come to class if they didn’t have to?

    How many of your students would come to class if they didn’t have to?

    That’s it. That’s the question, because when you are in #StayAtHome, the compulsory in compulsory education goes out the window. Kids don’t have to come to school for the foreseeable future. Planning to take online attendance for participation? Great, let me know how that goes for you. Expecting to hold kids accountable with grades? Awesome, except for all the kids who have absolutely no support systems at home. Lets widen that equity divide a bit more, shall we?

    “Focus on the good parts of learning and not the bad parts of school”

    – Mike Vollmert Ed.D

    Right now, in this moment, we need to ask, what makes school matter for kids? And guess what, there is no universal answer. As leaders, this is our challenge. How do we engage every student in LEARNING. It’s not about doing school online, it’s about CONTINUING TO SUPPORT STUDENT LEARNING AT HOME. School as we know it is really just a framework, a construct we created as a society 150 yeas ago to educate the masses. It’s time to drop the crazy idea that we can expect kids to learn while sheltered in place at home the same way they did when they were compelled to attend physical school. Every student is on their own personal learning journey. We need to engage them where they are on that journey and help them get to where they need to be.

    Here’s another thought experiment. What does school look like when any student can get up and walk out of the classroom whenever they want? A lot of what we think of as doing school in a face-to-face environment is really about compliance. Think about it. Our classroom structures, routines and rules are generally designed to reinforce compliance in the physical space.

    What does school look like when any student can get up and walk out of the classroom whenever they want?

    Paper Packets vs. Online Learning. I do have thoughts on this. Maybe I’ll write about it tomorrow. The one thing I would say now is COVID-19 is an Infectious Disease. You might be able to send a few weeks worth of packets home initially, but the logistics of maintaining that over a prolonged period of time are considerable. And no, we can’t expect every family to have access to a printer at home to print out our PDFs.

    While we as a species do not face an existential threat from this pandemic, our public education system most certainly does. Many educational leaders are just waking up to this realization. The bottom line is this: the task before us is monumental. This crisis is exposing the systemic inequity inherent in our education system like never before. This is the new normal. As communities with vested interests in our children continuing to engage in learning over the weeks and months ahead, we have to start shifting our paradigms of school and we have to shift them rapidly. I believe that together, as educators, we can rise to the challenge. Because really, what other choice do we have?

    (To all the elementary folks out there, forgive me, I have my high school teacher lens on at the moment. For primary, I believe the most critical thing we can do now and always is make sure our kids can read. How we do that remotely is for another post. I have ideas, but would love to hear yours as well. We’re all in this together).

    • Carlos Romero 12:05 am on March 23, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      Thank you for the information above it goes without saying
      I truly believe in education so it is our duty as parents and teachers
      To emply our tasks at hand.

    • Brian Wise 8:59 am on March 24, 2020 Permalink | Reply

      Thank you for sharing this insightful post! As I adjust both my professional and family life to this new normal, I can’t help but think that our education system as a whole has been presented with this challenge at an interesting time. Ten years ago, mass-scale at-home learning would have been, for the most part, unthinkable. Ten years from now, it may be commonplace. But right now, however, public education finds itself someplace in between, where some forward-leaning organizations may just be able to make it work. In short, at-home learning right now is in our proverbial “zone of proximal development.” :-)

  • Andrew T Schwab 12:22 pm on June 23, 2019 Permalink | Reply

    Cheesesteak! #notatiste19 https://t.co/ODfhm45Wt2 


    Source: @anotherschwab June 23, 2019 at 12:11PM
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  • Andrew T Schwab 12:22 pm on June 23, 2019 Permalink | Reply

    Ok #NotAtIste19, let’s make some cheesesteaks! @jcorippo https://t.co/iLyN9QFobV 


    Source: @anotherschwab June 23, 2019 at 12:00PM
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  • Andrew T Schwab 8:03 pm on June 19, 2019 Permalink | Reply

    Step 2: Toppings! https://t.co/dZ94bIhGM1 


    Source: @anotherschwab June 19, 2019 at 07:49PM
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  • Andrew T Schwab 8:03 pm on June 19, 2019 Permalink | Reply

    Step 1: Cauliflower pizza crust https://t.co/kroFGB3JxR 


    Source: @anotherschwab June 19, 2019 at 07:43PM
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  • Andrew T Schwab 9:48 am on June 19, 2019 Permalink | Reply

    RT @anotherschwab: Breakfast time: Two eggs sunny side up with fried tomatoes and avocado! https://t.co/LFQcly1fR9 


    Source: @anotherschwab June 19, 2019 at 09:47AM
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  • Andrew T Schwab 7:15 am on December 17, 2018 Permalink | Reply  

    The New Macbook Air – One Step Forward, Two Steps Back? 

    We’re faced with a big decision in the next few months, what laptop will we upgrade our teachers to next. They are all rocking the 13″ MacBook Air from 2014 and aside from some battery issues on the oldest ones, I must say, the devices have held up really well. In fact, if Apple had simply upgraded the processors in the old MacBook Air chassis and maybe thrown in a bit higher resolution screen, we would have already made the decision.



    But, unfortunately, Apple had to go and “improve” on what was arguably already the best laptop ever made. So, I’ve been demoing one of the new MacBook Air 2018 models for the past week and here is where I’m at:


    • Nice Screen – brightness seems fine in daily use, despite the reviews
    • Small Bezels!
    • Decent performance (although I’ve seen Chrome stutter a bit here and there)
    • I can use my Pixel phone charger to charge it!
    • Speakers are nice
    • TouchID Power Button is awesome


    • I really miss the old MacBook Air keyboard –  The travel is non-existent and I am missing more keys when typing than usual
    • No MagSafe adapter to save me from myself
    • Surprisingly heavy, especially for the reduced size and when compared to the old MacBook Air 13″
    • Headphone jack on the right hand side (that’s just wrong)
    • Apple Logo doesn’t light up – gone is any external indicator that the machine is on, or sleeping when the lid is closed.

    So, is this the device for 350 educators to use day and in day out in their classrooms for the next 4-5 years? At this point, I am not sure. I think for next steps it would make sense for use to order a few more and put them in the hands of teachers in the classroom to find out. Given the magnitude of this decision, I think we need some heavy classroom use before we can make an informed choice.

    On another note, from an organizational perspective, I wish Apple would think about more than just the individual user sometimes. We have invested in an entire system of spare power adapters and display dongles to support our fleet of MacBook Airs. Regardless of what device we end up moving forward with, we are going to have to replace all of that with new accessories. Thanks USB-C.


    With this new MacBook Air, I feel like we’ve taken one step forward and two steps back. We had the best keyboard on the market. We had MagSafe, which was just brilliant at saving ourselves from ripping out the power cord. We had a thin and light chassis that really only showed it’s age around the screen resolution and bezel size.  In the end, we gave up a lot of user friendly innovation and all we really got in exchange was a TouchID enabled power button.

    One thing is certain, ever since Apple got rid of the polycarbonate MacBook, they’ve continued to limit the options for Education if we want to stay on the Mac OS platform. Maybe we should be testing teacher Chromebooks instead…

    • Tim Goree 1:32 pm on December 17, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      Thanks for the info – this is really helpful!

    • Matt Penner 6:52 pm on December 17, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      I agree. The magsafe adapter was a thing of brilliance, why the heck they removed it several years ago makes no sense to me. I understand wanting usb-c charging, but now I’m searching for a usb-c magsafe adapter.

      If pressed I bet we could show that 95% of our teacher activities are now easily accessible on a Chromebook, and those that aren’t have modern equivalents, are no longer relevant practices or can be handled through VDI. Only the specialized curriculum that require dedicated hardware/equipment (I.e. Photoshop labs, video editing, CNC, etc) still require dedicated legacy O/S’s and those are being addressed every year.

      We are still ~2 years away from our refresh and I’m hoping to move to a 90% Chrome environment.

  • Andrew T Schwab 2:10 pm on April 13, 2018 Permalink | Reply  

    Life After 1:1 #Lead3 

    Every student has access to an Internet connected mobile device. Now what?

    If you are at a district that has entered the 21st Century and made the decision to provide technology access to every student, congratulations, you’ve taken you’re first step into a larger world. What happens in that larger world is up to you. It can look a lot like before, and probably will at first. But if you embrace change and explore the possibilities, you can start to transform reality into something new and relevant for the age of information overload and the 4th great industrial revolution. In the slide deck below, I walk through the possibilities we’ve explored and the change we’ve experienced over the past four years at Union School District, where technology is now ubiquitous and we’ve moved past the initial tech as a tool phase into the exciting world of future ready learning.

    Questions are welcome.

  • Andrew T Schwab 6:51 am on April 13, 2018 Permalink | Reply  

    Rubber Bands and Change at #Lead3 

    This guy John Eick, @John_Eick, (pronounced IKE not ICK), just blew my mind for the second time in less than a month. We were fortunate enough to have John keynote our district PD day a few weeks ago and I thought he rocked the house then, but yesterday as the Lead 3 keynote, he brought the house down. In about an hour, from a tiny stage in front of a crowd of school administrators seated at round tables eating lunch, John taught a master course on organizational change leadership. We’ve all read the standard leadership books but what Eick did in an hour with an imaginary Rubber Band, Hollywood worthy sound effects and an acronym, is distill all that book theory into 7 practical steps a school administrator can start working on TOMORROW. And it’s not rocket science. To use another Jon’s terminology, Eick has built a protocol for educational leadership that gets right to the point. So, if John isn’t writing a book, he should be, because his STRETCH ideas are some of the most succinct and accessible how-to’s for being a change leader I’ve heard, ever. And we need more practical, real world ideas for educational leaders if we’re going to change the system to meet the needs of our kid’s futures. Status quo is not an option.


  • Andrew T Schwab 9:27 am on December 23, 2017 Permalink | Reply  

    Goodbye Small School Big Tech 

    In April 2010, Danny Silva and I sat down and recorded the first episode of the Small School Big Tech Podcast. The premise was simple, two educators talking about our experiences implementing technology in our school district. Along the way we chronicled our 1:1 roll out in real time and got to meet and talk with a bunch of awesome educators. Danny dropped off in 2011 when he left for CUE and Mike Magboo stepped in to pick up the slack. Five years and 66 episodes in, Small School Big Tech had run it’s course. I posted the last episode on March 18th, 2015.

    Screen Shot 2017-12-23 at 9.22.09 AM

    Since that last episode, I’ve kept the Small School Big Tech website and domain name while watching as the traffic dropped off to almost zero. Coming up on three years since the last post, I think it’s time to let it go. I’ve unchecked the Auto-Renew option in Hover for the domain and with that done, I now have a few months to figure out what, if anything, to do with the content.

    All of the audio files are hosted on Archive.org, so they will essentially live forever, minus the index associated with the small school big tech web site itself. I’ve been debating sucking all the episodes from Small School Big Tech over to this site. I know it will break all the external URL references like iTunes and Feedburner but at least the references to the Archive.org links will exist somewhere in one place. What I’d really like to do is create one page with every episode title and link on it, old school web index style.

    Or maybe I’m being nostalgic and should just let them go. Leave them to live on at Archive.org forever, to be discovered, or not, in the ever expanding historical record of the Interwebs.

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