Educational leaders and superintendents from across the state of Virginia traveled to the Virginia Beach’s Advanced Technology Center (ATC) Friday to take part in the Digital Innovation Leadership Symposium. Throughout the day, attendees were given today’s best practices in integrating digital tools to help provide the best classroom experiences for students and help improve academic achievement.
And, who better to share best practices for engaging students than the students themselves?
At the beginning of the day, student representatives from a host of the division’s Digital Anchor Schools addressed all the attendees as part of a student panel.
Their key takeaway for leaders? Be open. Be patient. Be ready.
“Please be open and honest,” a student panelist shared. “Learning is transparent – you are going to learn through your students and your students are going to learn through you. I think being transparent is really helpful for the learning community.”
Another student implored attendees to not get hung up on technical difficulties.
“Keep trying. Don’t give up,” she shared. “There are going to be challenges from the Chromebooks…you want to keep going. You shouldn’t say, ‘Don’t use this as all because there is one problem.’ There’s always a solution.”
And, one student’s particularly wise insight helped fill the ATC theater with laughter.
“Be ready for anything,” he said. “Whatever comes from the laptop or Chromebook, be ready for it, because something is going to happen.”
The symposium was held in partnership with Discovery Education, a leading provider of digital content and professional development for K-12 classrooms. Following the student panel, there were breakout sessions where attendees were able to discuss new ways to transition to digital teaching and learning as well as hear from fellow educators on their plans and strategies for moving toward a system-wide digital transformation.
For Virginia Beach City Public Schools (VBCPS) Superintendent Dr. Aaron Spence, the discussion around and pursuit of digital integration in the classroom comes down to providing all students with the academic experience they deserve.
“Education is a transformative power in a child’s life, the ripple effects of opportunity that come with an education are endless,” Spence said during his keynote address. “However, in order to teach a child, we have to first be able to reach them. And, make no mistake – for meaningful learning to take place, we have to have student buy-in. You cannot phone in engagement. Digital tools are a way to do just that. They allow us to meet our children where they are and empower them to learn on their terms.”
Event attendees praised the day of learning and shared that similar events, bringing more experiences and insights together from school divisions across the state, would be beneficial as work continues in digital expansion.
In fact, Virginia Department of Education Chief Technology Innovations Officer Bobby Keener helped close the day by sharing how vital the conversations during the symposium are.
“It’s a great step for us to learn all together,” Keener shared. “Making school more engaging, more fun is something we all need to strive for and we’re making those strides today…What I’ve seen today is this is something worthwhile and we need more people involved.”