District Policies

Teaching at a small Catholic school in a small town on an island has afforded me many benefits when it comes to teaching. One of these benefits is our access to education, especially with our current principal, who has previously taught technology at a college level. Our principal supports and encourages the use of technology in our classroom. Though devices are in need of upgrades/revisions, we have 1-to-1 devices for many of our classrooms. Our school is not held to the same rigorous standards as our public schools; there is more freedom to explore and try new techniques, particularly in regard to technology. However as I was completing my research for this week (and past week’s research for that matter), I wondered if our school had an AUP (known as an acceptable use policy). When thumbing through our enrollment packet, I discovered no policy for students to sign as they register. As I teacher, I realized, I had never once had my students sign one. Further, when researching our ‘district’ the Archdiocese of Anchorage, they did not have a policy on their site either. This, I thought, is an oversight for our school, and it is a policy our school needs.

An acceptable use policy or responsible use policy is a policy that outlines what a school or district expects of its members in behaving with technology (Common Sense Education., 2015). Our school technology vision is for all students to become technology literate. In order to achieve this vision, we must have a policy for guidelines and expectations. Acceptable use policies need to have clear guidelines and should be discussed with teachers, students, and parents (Winske, C., 2014). In moving forward with developing a policy for our school, several resources had tips on how to write your own acceptable use policy and samples of other schools. Scholastic (2015) encourages you to include the philosophy, statement of educational uses/advantages, responsibilities of educators, code of conduct, acceptable vs unacceptable uses and more in your policy. SETDA (2015) encourages schools to refine and revise policies and practices for high-quality digital learning. Finally, Common Sense Education (2015) outlines questions to ask as your policy develops. For example, how often will the policy be reviewed and revised, do you need school board approval, will your school have a separate acceptable use policy for teachers, will your acceptable use policy focus on behaviors or devices, etc.

Our school starts off the year with two inservice days and has another two inservice days in October. I believe writing an acceptable use policy could be an activity for teachers to work on together during those inservice days. When both my principals (as we have co-principals for this coming school year) return from their vacations, I plan to bring up this idea. I can help lead the way by finding samples and drafting a policy for my colleagues to discuss and edit. As the policy further develops, a bring your own device policy can be written as well. This could also help with professional learning in regards to technology as teachers develop and apply their knowledge to creating a policy that is beneficial for students (Alberta Government., 2013).

Bibliography:

Alberta Government. (2013). Learning and technology policy framework Retrieved July 25, 2015, from https://education.alberta.ca/media/7792655/learning-and-technology-policy-framework-web.pdf

Archdiocese of Anchorage. (2015). Catholic education. Retrieved July 28, 2015, from http://www.archdioceseofanchorage.org/catholic-education/

Common Sense Education. (2015). 1-to-1 essentials – Acceptable use policies. Retrieved July 28, 2015, from https://www.commonsensemedia.org/educators/1to1/aups

Scholastic. (2015). Using technology: Why have a technology policy in your school or library? Retrieved July 28, 2015, from http://www.scholastic.com/librarians/tech/techpolicy.htm

SETDA. (2015). Ensuring the quality of digital content for learning. Retrieved July 25, 2015, from http://www.setda.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Digital_brief_3.10.15c.pdf

Winske, C. (2014, February 17). Tips for creating technology policies for K-12 [K-12 tech decisions]. Retrieved July 25, 2015, from http://www.k-12techdecisions.com/article/creating_an_acceptable_use_policy_for_mobile_learning_initiatives

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8 thoughts on “District Policies

  1. Margaret- I think that is a wonderful idea for inservice. Well obviously you guys don’t have problems with students not using the computers correctly. We have a technology policy that parents and students sign when they first register for school. This just staff they will use the computers wisely and respect them, etc. If they don’ then they can lose the privilege of working on one. We have had a few students lose their privilege because of not using the computer wisely, taking keys off the computer, and even harassment. I do think we need to update our policies and include a BYOD because I think our school is coming up for letting kids bring their own devices. I think the policy that Alberta has is a good guideline to follow.

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    1. This past year we did have some students using the technology inappropriately – students logging into others accounts, looking up stuff they shouldn’t, etc. However, this was the first year we really had more technology in the classroom. My first year of teaching, there was a technology class, but only one set of laptops for that class and limited in the classroom. The year after, we switched principals and didn’t quite get technology moving. Last year was the first year we really needed the AUP. I think it’s becoming more necessary for us to have one. I really want my colleagues to participate in the development because sometimes they struggle with technology. Last year, when the principal was busy, I was the go-to for technology help. If colleagues can help with input, I think they’ll understand the technology better.

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  2. That is really great that you have the support of your tech savvy principal and how nice for your students that you have 1-to-1 devices for many of your classrooms. It is nice that you have flexibility and more freedom for exploration. I like your idea for your inservice days, having your staff work together to come up with an acceptable use policy and your BYOD policy. The Anchorage School District has a BYOD policy that you could use as a guide. This would be beneficial professional learning by developing and applying your staff’s knowledge in creating policies that benefit your students.

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    1. Yes! Even though my principal is older, because he taught technology classes at the college level, he is very adamant about using technology in the classroom. That was even part of my evaluation last year – trying to incorporate the technology more! 🙂 The 1:1 devices is relatively new, within the past school year. Some of the technology we’ve been able to adapt to use for the program is starting to reach the end of its life, and even starting to die on me while I’m teaching our Summer Enrichment program! I’m doing my proposal over a 1:1 program, in terms of keeping it updated and on a sustainable cycle so that we’re able to keep up with the new technology.

      Thanks for the Anchorage Resource! I’ll be sure to look it up when I go to my now co-principals. 🙂 I believe our public school district here has one, as well, that I can pull as an adaptive sample. As a private school, I think it was something that had been looked over, especially since for a while there wasn’t as much technology – a small computer lab.

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  3. I can relate to teaching at a small school and not having to follow the same rigorous standards as public schools, it makes teaching a lot easier when we can explore different activities. I think my school thinks it has an acceptable use policy because kids have to sign a contract that they won’t bring their electronics, but I don’t think that covers it in any way. As I am working to develop a BYOD policy for my school I am running into the problem of other teachers not thinking it’s necessary. Everyone I teach with is at least 18 years older than me and then there’s me who is taking these technology classes and realizing all the cool things we can do in our classrooms. It’s going to be really difficult to find the opportunity to make them think that this is a great idea. My dad is the vice principal at the school I teach at and last night I was talking to him about the benefits of a BYOD policy and he’s taken all of the technology classes from Dr. Graham and still isn’t quite on board, maybe there’s a generation gap.

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    1. That’s interesting about a generation gap. I was actually speaking with my parents last night about my blogging over the past weeks, specifically this week and last week with the use of BYOD policies. I mentioned that our school needed an AUP policy that could include or have a section on students’ devices (maybe not the first draft, but eventually). I smiled at my father when I mentioned this because he started mentioning all the things that you need to consider when developing a BYOD policy – notably that all students may not be able to afford devices (this is true at our school, many students are in a low socioeconomic class) and the technology envy of students. I told him I had read about these challenges but that I thought we could combat them, especially since students will bring their own devices to school anyway if they aren’t already. He seemed more receptive but still apprehensive, which is a far cry from my principal and your father, who is my father’s age.

      In regards to my principal, I believe the fact that he taught technology classes has much to do with his push to use more technology in the classroom and make it more available in our school. I can relate to being younger than the other teachers in your building. I was hired right out of college, thankfully, but I’m still at least ten+ years younger than my colleagues. However, I am now the senior teacher at my school – the other teachers have been teaching longer, but going into my fourth year at the same school, I’ve been around for the longest consistent time (including my principals). That thought sometimes blows my mind. 🙂 Sometimes being an advocate and pushing for what you think will benefit the students and school is the best thing you can do! Keep trying!

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  4. Great ideas. It is wonderful your principal is tech savvy and encourages a 21st learning environment. In service or professional development days would be the perfect opportunity for staff, administration and parents to develop tech and BYOD plans. Good for you getting wanting to get involved in the creation of technology documents for your school. It is an admirable undertaking. It is time stopped talking about improving education and started implementing changes that will improve student success.

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  5. This is a great idea! I think you are on the right track. Collaborating with your peers and a tech savvy principal will allow you to create a good solid policy that is beneficial to the teachers and the students. It is cool that you now have the knowledge to help implement this program.

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