Gobsmacked

There are moments in the course of a career that every educator will remember. Today I had one of those moments. And, although it just happened, I am certain it will resonate for years to come. 

I’ll try and capture this story concisely. 
July 1st I started my tenure as the director of technology for Groton-Dunstable Regional School District. My first job was to provide advocacy and support for technology throughout our district. GD is a district that consists of a wonderful, supportive community, progressive, dedicated educators and administration, and students who are bright and kind. Up until my arrival, technology was an afterthought. This is not to say that the tech team was not working hard or dedicated, but simply, there was no voice or leadership for technology in the district. 
My first two initiatives included upgrading the network infrastructure district wide and transitioning our staff from a first class email system to a Google Apps for Edu environment that would include accounts for both teachers and students. I also purchased 600 Chromebooks for students to use across five schools. And this is where the story begins. 
We’re currently in the process of organizing 600 Chromebooks into groups and carts for each school to use. Plus, I want to match the serial numbers on each device with a cart. When you enroll chromebooks they enroll but are not grouped (NOTE: there may be a way of automatically enrolling into specific groups, but I had some inconsistencies with auto-enroll). So the solution was to group the chromebooks into 25, enroll them, and then plug them into carts while documenting the serial numbers. A cumbersome process. 
When I arrived at GD high school this morning I got to meet some of the “Tech Task Force” students. The tech task force takes the help desk model I created at Burlington High School and presents it with a different name and schedule. 
I walked in and noticed Ryan scanning the back of Chromebooks. To me, it looked as if he was taking a picture of each devices serial number and bar code. He wasn’t. He said…

I actually created a script with python that uses an android API for a bar code scanner that will scan the device’s bar code and push it directly to a CSV file.

Of course you did.

He did this on his own, without any demand from us. This was not homework, he will not be tested on it by the state or federal government, and he did not receive a rubric or a grade. Ryan simply saw a problem and developed an efficient solution using a skill set that in many schools is not being taught. And I’m not referring to computer science, but simply time to create, develop, and explore beyond a common curriculum. Ryan saved our tech team a few days worth of work and impressed me beyond anything I expected to see this Friday morning.

Ryan is not common and does not fit into the common core curriculum. Ryan has raced beyond what our federal government deems “the top”. Most ETS tests are beneath Ryan. And, while I understand that not all students are like Ryan and the moment I witnessed this morning was very unique, it doesn’t create an excuse for rethinking and redesigning our education system. America needs a system that fosters creativity, exploration and discovery, mistakes, and innovation. That’s a system that we owe our students.

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