In my last post, I shared how I've launched an Innovation Team made up of "Spark Starters" from each school in our district. I am incredibly excited about this magical team and the sparks that are already being ignited.
Building meaningful relationships from the beginning is really important to me. It was always a priority as a teacher, and I know it must be a priority in this role as well. Being the only Tech Integration Specialist in my district, I have a lot of area to cover since my Spark Starters are from 19 different schools covering a wide area. A dear friend and colleague of mine, Jenni Jones @jennijonestech, was chatting with me the other night about how we needed to collect our "greatest success" moments this year with all the new adventures we are beginning. That's when my friend Jenni had an idea to create a jar to collect them that we can reflect back on. I loved this idea so much that another lightbulb moment happened! What if I create jars for each of the "Spark Starters" to collect "Daily Spark" moments?! I could deliver them when I visit each of them this month at their schools!
DAILY SPARK JAR ASSEMBLY
With a plan developing in my head, my colleague and I hurried off to Walmart on the hunt for a few items for our jars:
Now for assembly. I cut the cardstock using a paper cutter into small rectangles and tied 30 pieces together with twine. I wrote a message on cardstock with the following instructions:
If I was to do this again, I would type out these instructions and then print them to save time. Live and learn. On one side of the tags, I wrote "Daily Sparks" and on the other side I wrote a quote:
To put them together, I placed the cardstock bundle, pen, and instructions in each (threw in a Make Learning Magical sticker too). I screwed on the lid and tied the tag around the top with twine.
DAILY SPARK JAR READY FOR DELIVERY!
The best part of this process was delivering them! I absolutely loved the adventure of driving to schools and finding each Spark Starter's classroom. It was a wonderful way to see them in their element and in many cases meet them for the first time. They were so sweet and appreciative and it brought so much joy to my heart to be able to give this gift of love and appreciation for accepting my invitation to be on our Innovation Team! I can’t wait for these jars to fill with “spark moments” as we ignite innovation this year!
For the first time in 22 years I am starting the school year without a classroom or students. I've experienced a myriad of emotions throughout this transition, but what gets me fired up about my new role as Tech Integration Specialist is the opportunity to ignite innovation in my district. The past four years have been a whirlwind for me and the most epic adventure as I've embraced innovation and discovered how it can open up amazing possibilities for growth and student learning. My journey has been so transformational that I can't help but share my passion for making learning magical with others.
CALLING ALL SPARK STARTERS!
One of the very first things I did as Tech Integration Specialist happened 3 months before my new role officially started. After sharing my plan for igniting innovation in our district with my administrator, I asked for 10 minutes at our district's last Admin Council meeting of the year to share my vision and ask for their assistance. I handed out a card to each principal with room for them to write two educators in their school that they would consider to be a "Spark Starter". I told them I wasn't looking for the most tech savvy, but rather someone who had the following attributes:
The Courageous-takes leaps in their learning.
The Encouraging-Builds up those around them.
The Sunshine Spreaders-Lights up a room with positivity.
The Innovators-Likes to create new ideas or ways of doing things.
This team of "Spark Starters" will meet monthly after school for 1 1/2 hours for a fun-engaging time of learning and collaboration. I will also be visiting each "Spark Starter" monthly in their classrooms to help support them with the innovative things they are doing. My vision is that having "sparks" in each school will ignite other sparks and soon we will have a district on fire for innovation.
RALLYING THE TROOPS!
Once I collected the cards, I sent out an email the next day with an invite to all of the identified "Spark Starters" to join our Innovation Team with a link to fill out a Google Form. It was the last day of the school year, so I knew I may not get a ton of responses, but wanted it to at least go out before we went into summer.
We have 19 schools in our district, so I sent out approximately 38 invites. I had about one quarter of those invited onto the team respond, so I sent out the email invite again in August before school started followed by a personal phone call a week later to all those who I had not heard from. The phone calls took about 3 hours, but were so worth it. I was able to share my passion and make a personal connection with each one. Additionally, I was able to personally invite them to our half hour Innovation Team Meet & Greet during inservice week.
Out of 38 invites, I am starting out a team of 30 excited Spark Starters with at least one representative from each school in our district! We had an amazing kick-off and now I can't wait to see what sparks of innovation are ignited this school year!
Our innovation adventures have just begun!
Tech Integration Specialist in Southern Oregon and author of Make Learning Magical. I'm passionate about finding innovative ways to transform teaching and create unforgettable experiences in the classroom.