It isn’t important what your product is, if you can’t sell it. Explosive dogs don’t get loved very often (look above if you don’t get it… it’s a poor translation of “Bomb Sniffing Dog” into English).
Sour tempered teachers may create awesome lessons, but if that disposition keeps students at arm’s distance…then few students will benefit from her expertise. For students, packing matters.
But aren’t we all students? Even teachers during a faculty meeting? Packaging matters to them as well.
Of course, packaging doesn’t do it alone. Multimillion dollar advertising agencies lose their clientele quickly if they sell snake oil to a steadily disbelieving mass of consumers. The pitch has to be back up with product (see our “pitch” video at the bottom of this post). However…
Most I.T./Integration Specialists know our tech tools. We know how to use them, when to use them, and to what degree we need to use them. But the audiences that we “sell” to isn’t usually an audience full of Instructional Technology experts. We earn our check with those reluctant teachers and administrator who fear or dismiss the role of technology in education. Like our students, the packaging is crucial to sell our product to theses adults.
Lesson Crashers and this blog isn’t for you, the seasoned I.T. specialist. The real audience for this blog isn’t reading it!!! To repeat what was said in our Lesson Crashers Session at TCEA-2014 in Austin, Texas, the Lesson Crashers crew was presenting PAST the hundreds of people in attendance to the audience NOT in attendance.
The real audience for the Lesson Crashers are those teachers who are good or great at their craft, but apprehensive and reluctant to delve into the instructional technology world. Those teachers may be highly lauded campus leaders, but are too comfortable in the lowlands of the tech world. They are talented, but may be missing out on being able to bust down the walls in their classroom. This is crucial because those kids are slowly, but surely helping to re-imagine everyone’s tomorrow. To keep them entombed in a classroom that is isolated from wonderful enlightening opportunities, is to hinder those kids from fully participating in the creation of the future they will live in. To those teachers…
…The Packaging Matters!
If we simply throw apps and tech tools at teachers during staff meetings or schedule trainings, the results are predictable. Teachers will shut down just as quickly as any student in the same situation. Since teachers are simply more advanced students, we can assume they will react in a similar manner (see our solution to this problem at the very bottom of this post).
It’s funny that we expect our teachers to wow and zing our students with lesson hooks, but we rarely wow and zing them with PD hooks. The same is true whether it’s a classroom we’re Crashing or a staff meetings we’re crashing in the principal’s name.
Packing Matters To Them!
We “train” them on tech during (from their perspective) rushed sessions. We assume that their professionalism…which they DO have… will be enough to remind them to play with this new tech at home, during their conference time, or on the weekend. I’d bet dollars to donuts that they WON’T remember our rushed training sessions…however, they WILL remember that we either did or did not care enough to stop and dress up that training session in a fun and entertaining way. They will remember that we made an effort to think of them before they arrived.
It’s not simply packaging, of course.
We do (and must) deliver. The packaging is a promise and our expertise is how we fulfill that promise.
To be sure, the Lesson Crasher team are well versed in flipped classroom, workshop model, the fundamental five, working on the work, and other pedagogical frameworks. We are excellent teachers who have presented numerous times and have won teacher and I.T. awards. But none of that matters, unless we explicitly show our audience that we care for them by handing the reigns over to them when Crashing their lessons.
The Lesson Crasher ideal is all about the administrators, teachers, or students establishing tech goals for themselves. We enter their environment and we guide them to their self-established finish lines.
We don’t teach a tool we teach the process, as Integration Specialist team member Cara Carter says. We are confident in our tech skills, social skills, creativity, and classroom management abilities enough to let go. Just as student choice was front and center when we were teachers, it simply makes sense to allow our adult coworkers have most of the control in our Lesson Crashes. We work within their expectations and work toward their goal.
The Back Story
Lesson Crashers was an idea that, nine short month prior, I had pitched to my Integration Specialist compatriot, Cara Carter. We were talking about my up coming shift from classroom teacher to Instructional Technology. I had not yet been hired to the I.T. team. I was still teaching college and senior level government at Northwest High School. I knew I’d likely be placed on a new set of campuses and wanted to find a way to introduce myself to those teachers.
Cara wise suggested that I shouldn’t try to fill the shoes of the previous I.T. person. She challenged me to look for a “Cooper” kind of way to slide into the new position.
It hit me one day watching DIY’s “Yard Crashers” that people were being asked to work on their own yard with a little guidance and help from the hosts of the show. The hosts, Ahmed Hassan and Matt Blashaw, didn’t do ALL of the work. As a matter of fact, they did what appeared (on the surface) to be little. They asked for the home owner’s “vision”, told the home owners that they needed to collect some friends to help them achieve that vision, and guided the group to the goal. GENIUS!!! Why not do that with teachers!?
Have strong teachers open up their weakest lessons to the I.T. team. The I.T. team would get to work on the tech side of the lesson, adding several levels of tech resources and suggestions. The teacher would remain the owner of the lesson and the goal. We would simply come in and translate the teacher’s activities and lessons into a the language of education technology.
I certainly won’t belabor the what we did since much of it can be seen in our “feature length” video below. But, we heavily promoted the contest on #NISDNOV8, our weekly tech centered Twitter chat session. The application was sent out in the form of a Google Doc. Teachers had to submit a sample lesson and a video. Finally, we convened as a group and chose our Crashee based on a multitude of variables.
I will simply add, as far as our first Crashee is concerned, that student choice and students teaching students was the focus established by our former teacher of the year applicant, Mrs. Reyff. We came to see her when she was ready and incorporated levels of technology that she was comfortable with. We learned lessons on how to stream line the process, of course, but the Crash went off well.
A month later we Crashed a faculty meeting in one of our middle schools. Mrs. Reyff’s Crash was so successful that people started coming to us. We’re now getting ready to launch our second round of applications in preparation of Lesson Crashers, the sequel!
Since we sold the concept as a T.V. show, we called our media academy for help. Mr. Jeremy Rawe and his student crew put together our promo and our feature length show. With some tweaking by Adam Bennet, we watched the final video and were blown away by the teamwork and the results.
This is a movement. Like any movement, it takes a multitude of moving pieces and must be adapted to various circumstances. Please join us in this movement by taking this approach and making it your own. Email us, Tweet us, call us, or send smoke signals. We don’t care. We, Lesson Crashers, believe that this can make the consumption of technology in the classroom a state-wide endeavor. Take the ideas, take the format, but leave the logo…that’s ours 🙂
If you crash a lesson, and it conforms to the above parameters, send us a nicely done video documentation and we’ll send you a little gift.
Rigor, transparency, comradery, and technology, that’s the Lesson Crasher way.