The following entails the must-haves that we have found are essential on our digital team:
- Strong senior leadership presence, roles and responsibilities. Even though these roles complement each other, each SLT role in the digital team is clearly defined. In my role, I have oversight of the strategy and governance of #aoreredigital but I do not go near budgeting or finance. These matters are the preserve of our school's business manager Sandra Bisman. This enables me to "think big" without any financial constraints and it leaves my colleague to focus on somehow finding the funds, which to her credit, she does amazingly well and consistently! We meet almost everyday actualising communication that is subsequently highly transparent and immediate. Needless to say, although our principal isn't explicitly part of the #aoreredigital team, he is still our head learner and lead educator. We are very lucky in that currently we have a principal Greg Pierce who believes in the holistic benefits and is an educated advocate of modern/digital learning and has the most awesome philosophy of "if it's 50/50, go for it but keep me informed!" What's that saying?; "where the head goes, the body will follow!"
- Aorere has four digital advisors. That's right four! I have three senior curriculum leaders Liz O'Hagan, Keir Whipp and Angela White (all highly digitally coherent and visionary in their own right). Each Monday, I meet with these advisors and our school's digital learning coordinator on digital matters, focusing on leadership over administration, the future over the now. Talk about a way to start the week! The intellect and passion present is not only a great way to start the week but also provides the stimulus and fuel to power what the realisations of the digital "must haves" for our school community. What is so powerful about an advisory such as this is that there is a genuine and perpetual focus on achieving the best solutions and outcomes and that there is clear continuity of opinions and the path forward and often highly robust pedagogical debate involved. Alongside the three curriculum leaders, there is also a senior Mathematics teacher Bryan Gellatly who has extensive technical modern learning understanding and expertise. He has also informally developed a role as a go-to person on staff for any teacher struggling with any laptop and/or access issues. In essence this advisory are the nutty professors of the school team. We dream big, fail big, succeed bigger and no times consider quitting as an option.
- We have a digital learning coordinator: This role formally established this year in essential for three main reasons. One, the person concerned Gareth Haddon (@teachinginhd) is responsible for leading our digital learning lab Chromebook pilot class consisting of 30 mid-band Year 9 students, 30 high-spec Chromebooks, a whole lot of enthusiasm and endeavour, and a group of "nutty professor" subject specialists, all with passion and ability for and in digital learning. Two, our school's digital learning coordinator is the formal link between the Aorere advisory team and teachers at the "coalface". We want to know how #aoreredigital is going, whether good or bad. We want to know the reality to keep moving forward and to in essence, keep belief and momentum. Lastly, Gareth is responsible for managing the schoolwide digital learning of staff and managing our twice-weekly #aoreredigtial teacher support drop-in sessions. In these voluntary sessions, teachers can get 1:1 assistance on any digital pedagogy or technical matters.
- Aorere College has eight digital coaches (curriculum areas): We originally thought we could have a one coach per department but ultimately decided that it was better to group related departments and that it was often the same issues that cropped across complementary learning areas. Moving forward, these coaches are becoming increasingly important as the go-to person for their delegated curriculum areas as 1) they are highly digitally competent and 2) have strong knowledge of the relevant curriculum contexts and appropriate pedagogy and technology. To put the significance of these roles into perspective, the persistence of one of our digital coaches was the instigator (and no doubt perpetual agitator) for seeing his department obtain a full set of Chromebooks for his department midway through Term 1 much to the delight and surprise of his colleagues and no doubt the relevant students.
- Two IT experts (read digital angels): For teachers to have persistent belief in digital technologies and modern learning, technology must be reliable, effective in the classroom and student and teacher accessible. We are fortunate that our two "techies" Ryoo & Mehul are of the mindset "how can we do this now?" as opposed to "we can't do this" or heaven forbid "we can do this but just not now." Both men are also highly accessible to the digital team and the wider staff in general and just like superheroes are there in a flash with no kryptonite in sight. Most importantly, they never ever (as far as I know!) get sick of my digital requests, questions and "blue-sky" expectations. These men get the impossible done and quickly!
- Aorere has highly committed and capable teachers: In any teaching institution, there are teachers who have exceptional talents beyond their teaching capacity. Aorere is no different. A former student and now Aorere teacher designed our school app while one of our design teachers produced our #aoreredigital logo. As #aoreredigital grows in our school, it is amazing to see teachers grow in confidence in terms of their digital productions and initiatives but also the considerable revelation of their once hidden but thankfully no longer unique talents and abilities.
As one can see, #aoreredigital is not about one individual, it is and always will be about team & vision first and individuals last. It is only through such a collective vision, persistent collaboration and robust discourse that Aorere College has gone digital so quickly, so safely and so effectively. Long may such a process and context continue to exist!
To follow our journey, please visit aoreredigital.com. We welcome you being part of our journey!