Making technology work for every type of student – Josh Davis, USA
As an instructional technology coach, Josh Davis is not only among the first to try out new technology at his school, he also gets to experience the initial excitement from both teachers and students when they get to try something they’ve never seen before.
A 17-year veteran in his school district – 15 years as a middle school history teacher, two in his current role – he’s seen a lot of change. And school transformation is a big one.
His advice for a successful whole-school transformation plan? “Start small but have a large plan,” says Davis. “If you try to push people too quickly, things fall apart. But if you don’t have the big plan done, you will not be able to keep up once people are ready.”
Sage advice, and for this passionate technology advocate, just one part of the overall challenge of improving the world of education.
“Time is the biggest challenge I see,” he adds. “While it’s a common answer, it is one that has many facets to it. Time in class, time for out-of-class work, even what time to start school. We all know that we need to find more instructional time, but how? This is where I think we need open dialogue and the chance to be willing to try new things.”
Indeed. Here’s today’s Daily Edventure with Josh Davis.
What are the leadership qualities that you admire the most in others?
One thing I most admire are leaders that are willing to listen, but also make decisions. Often we hear about endless meetings where things are discussed but never decided, or leaders who make unilateral decisions. However, the leaders I admire most are the ones that can split the middle. They know how much discussion and input to take from people without things drawing on forever.
Schools aren’t all about curriculum and routine, they are places which can show the best we are. Could you share a short anecdote about an event that touched you?
It is hard to think of one specific example. There are so many times that I have seen students light up when they accomplished a goal that they never thought they could. Working with my middle school AVID students and having them come back years later to show off their college acceptance letters is one that really stands out.
What are you reading for professional renewal at the moment and do you have any take away thoughts to share?
Lately I have been reading a couple of books. The first is Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. I have also been reading Introversion in the Classroom: How to Prevent Burnout and Encourage Success by Jessica Honard. As we focus more on collaboration and communication in the classroom, we are asking our students and teachers to do things that are uncomfortable for many of them. While these skills are very important for success in society today, they are very difficult for many people. I think it is important for us as teachers and coaches to realize this and to make sure we are not leaving people behind.
Why do you feel passionate about innovation and technology in the classroom?
One reason I feel passionate about technology is that that it can give every kid a voice. Truthfully, I hate that term because I feel it is over used, but it is so true.
I can think of one example where I was working in a class with a teacher who was trying to incorporate technology. One student never spoke in class, but when given the chance to record his story instead of speaking it in class, he was one of the first ones done. No one even knew he was recoding it but he finished it completely. The other students had never even heard him talk. It was great to experience him becoming part of the class.
Without the tech, this student would have continued to simply hide in the back. That is not the only time I have seen this. I have seen other very shy students be much more open when using technology. This has been very evident in using Skype in classrooms. The shy, quiet kid in the back can open up because talking over the computer gives the students a forum where they can meet face-to-face, but still have the space they need.
About Josh Davis
Instructional Technology Coach
Downey Unified School District
- Birthplace: Bellflower, California, USA
- Educational background: BA History – CSULB, MA Education – Concordia, Portland
- Website I check every day: cnn.com, espn.com
- Favorite childhood memory: Catching the “Catch of the Week” in the Western Outdoor News.
- Favorite book: Anything written by Bernard Cornwell
- Favorite Microsoft product, tool, technology: Really hard choice – Skype, Sway or Office Mix — depending on the day
- What is the best advice you have ever received? While it is really cliché, the best advice I have been given is to just be myself. I have never been good at being someone else. Things have always worked out best for me when I am myself.