Saturday, January 17, 2009

iTeam leadership development

Our work in iTeams depends on developing a culture for project-based learning and semi-autonomous small-group activity. I described the strategy in a mail message to tech staff earlier this week:
In my vision of the future for iTeams, I hope we can get to the point where iTeam members can work semi-autonomously on projects for their TechYES certification and beyond. In that way, they may be ready to provide tier-one lab support but not be a burden on you [tech staff] for supervision. For example, I know that other responsibilities take both of you away from the lab so that students will need to return to their AST classrooms.
We are trying to develop that way of working but it is taking some time to get there. Students also differ in the rate at which they are ready to take on such responsibilities. To help them understand our goals, I explained the idea to them this week. Unfortunately, they do not always distinguish between short-term and long-term goals. For example, one student asked me whether to come during AST today. I explained that we hadn't prepared adequately yet. If other iTeam members approach you, I'll leave it to your discretion. E. g. Derrick [an iTeam member] told me that he spoke with you, Erik [MLTI Lead for the Middle School], about coming in at another time to work on getting student machines working with the Teamboard.
Steps forward: Since we still can't use students' laptops with the Teamboard, we have been using a MacBook instead. But the video connectors changed between iBook and MacBook. I didn't have a chance to setup before our last meeting. With no prompting on my part, someone found the right video connector and established the connection so that they could share their projects. Students recognized a need, took initiative to solve the problem and by writing about this event, I hope students will learn to take increasing responsibility.

A step back: Inducting new members challenges our capacity. I'm encouraging peer mentors to practice their leadership by taking responsibility. When a new member arrived at our last meeting, however, everyone wanted someone else to take responsibility. Their response reminded me of the Three Stooges. I wish I had a camera ready to capture that impasse but I learned how to use "comic book" effects in Photo Booth by simulating the response. But it also reminds us that we need to get official permission from students' parents or guardians to share photos of their work on iTeams.

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