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Creating the Conditions for Change in Maury County, Tennessee

Implementing technological processes in the classroom

Maury County Public Schools (MCPS) serve more than 12,000 students in kindergarten through twelfth grade. In a recent Education Week Webinar sponsored by DreamBox, Superintendent of Schools Chris Marczak shared how MCPS successfully developed and implemented seven district-wide keys to prepare students for college and career readiness. This popular 60-minute session is now available on demand and recommended for school and district leaders looking to implement new programs at scale.

A former elementary school teacher and principal, Superintendent Marczak is especially sensitive to the needs of teachers in the classroom and a strong proponent of giving educators the resources they need to succeed and the power to choose their own paths. In this post, we examine his district-wide implementation of Maury County’s new DIPLOMA program.

How MCPS teachers and students are graduating to digital with DIPLOMA

DIPLOMA is an acronym for Digital Integration Plan for Learning On Mobile and Accessibility. Named by an 11th grade student at Spring Hill High School in Maury County, DIPLOMA is a 1:1 program that supports project-based and problem-based learning in the classroom, and increases access to digital programs like DreamBox. DIPLOMA enables all students in grades 3-12 to take district-purchased devices back and forth between home and school.

Changing the way teachers teach and learners learn is no small task. Implementing new technology like this at scale requires a major mindset shift, and a buy-in from educators and students alike. Marczak’s approach was to create what he called “the conditions for change.” He set out to empower MCPS teachers by providing everything they needed to succeed: resources, professional learning communities, and collaborative internal support systems. He also allowed teachers to adapt and adjust to technology in the classroom at their own pace.

“We’ve never pushed technology on teachers or said they needed to be 1:1 by the end of the year,” explains Marczak. “What we said is, ‘you need to work with your colleagues to start to implement technological processes in the classroom so that students have access to the world’s information.'”

Using the Technology Integration Matrix (TIM) developed by the Florida Center for Instructional Technology, MCPS gradually began implementing technological processes in their classrooms district-wide. The TIM, developed more than a decade ago to help guide districts through the complex task of integrating technology in the classroom, provides a framework for describing and targeting the use of technology to enhance learning.

The 1:1 DIPLOMA program is collaborative by design: Participation is by grade level, department, or school. It’s not open to individual teachers. Marczak explains, “What we don’t want to do is saturate one classroom with 30 student devices, if the next classroom doesn’t use the technology. It’s a waste of taxpayer money if the devices aren’t being used for multiple periods throughout the day.”

In the end, that means a collaborative team of teachers shares students and works together to satisfy the student and teacher TIM. And, it’s a framework that educators in Maury County have embraced.

If you’d like to hear more about how Superintendent Marczak successfully created the conditions for change in his district, listen to the 60-minute recording of “Beyond State Assessments: Start Building Lifelong Math Learners” on demand.