Thursday, October 4, 2018

The Right Tool for the Job

This post is about finding the “right tool for the job.” I will begin by talking about Natick’s Mark Jodice, the most gifted and inspiring music teacher I’ve ever worked with. My own kids were lucky enough to have some Mr. Jodice’s magic early on at Brown School and they will remember him forever. This isn’t about Mark's skill as a music educator. This is about how our roles intersected in a new way after almost 20 years working together in the same school, and it begins with an overhead projector. 
Image result for overhead projector
Mark loved his overhead projector. He saved many from demise, and was the last refuge for those remaining bulbs and lenses. It’s fair to say that Mark is a creature of habit and found a highly efficient and comfortable way to manage an incredibly demanding set of expectations, concerts, classes, and students across multiple schools for a very long time. 

Once I shifted into my coaching role, Mark asked me to meet with him to explore ways to incorporate technology to support the teaching and learning in his space. No problem. I enthusiastically showed him how to build slides, collaboratively curate content across his plc, scan lyrics and sheet music, etc, but I was falling into that trap of showing a lot of things I could do rather than looking to let him discover what he could do. He took notes and compiled folders of images, all the while feeling his edtech brain stretching, but the spark had yet to ignite.

It wasn’t until we got to the point of using his iPad to collect, store and wirelessly project images that the bells started ringing. It wasn’t about simplicity, but about immediacy and accessibility. The time it took to archive and create slides or navigate online resources took steps further than Mark often had time to negotiate, particularly when his go-to had been transparencies within inches of his projector for his whole career. 
Mark has always been effective, purposeful, and efficient in his instruction and while I thought we were streamlining and “updating” his practice, we were really more accurately digitizing (still worthwhile) and slightly complicating (by installing steps) his work-flow. 
Mark says he is renewed, and it has nothing to do with me. We finally found that right tool for the job, and he could envision its impact and potential to transform his practice.  He now has his sheet music, lyrics, objectives and anchor charts in one place and immediately selectable and projectable- wirelessly! What began as an idea to use his iPad as a document camera evolved into a daily teaching tool. It’s a mobile document camera as well as video camera. This tool can be his own portfolio and file cabinet. He will archive student learning and document growth over time. Students will be able to create digital content and music, as well as curate their own music portfolios through his reach.

You never know what will resonate with any particular teacher or group. The lesson for me is to remain open to options and keep exploring until it hits. Mark is inspired and excited by his own self-discovery and shift in practice. 
Image result for overhead projector bulbsMy discovery was when I had to shift my lens from my objectives to be able to see what resonated and fit his needs, and I can’t wait to watch what he does with his students. Now who needs some leftover projector bulbs?

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