Shifting students from absorbing information to becoming creative thinkers
Information from an interview with Dr. Rod Berger and his thoughts about our conversations. Click here to listen to interview.
I sat down to talk with Dr. Matthew Joseph recently and we discussed his current role as the Director of Digital Learning and Innovation at Milford Public Schools in Massachusetts, along with the interesting path he took to get there. Matt will be a featured speaker at the Future of Education Technology Conference (FETC 2019) in Orlando from January 27th through the 30th, where he will present “Blitz Educational Transformation” in the IT Track and will serve on the “From IT to Innovation” panel.
Before accepting his current position, Matt was a teacher and principal in Massachusetts for 11 years. During that time, he was very focused on being an instructional leader, and he took great pride in that role. As an instructional leader, it was his duty to make sure that his students were getting the education that was needed and that his teachers had the support in place to effectively educate all learners. Matt says it was a hard realization once he no longer had the “instructional” part in his title. He is no longer responsible for directly teaching content, but has the huge responsibility to get the knowledge and tools in the hands of the principals and teachers that do. “My current role is in a district position supporting all schools and students,” he says.
He found himself in this leadership position just as the paradigm of education started to shift from students sitting in a classroom and consuming educational content to a dynamic environment where educators were actually training students to become creative thinkers. Matt saw his schools becoming just as complex with technological advances as the world beyond the classroom was to his students. He knew that he needed to have some supports in place to make sure that his principals and teachers were adequately trained and equipped to meet the new challenges. Matt saw the primary support to be communication: the conveyance of ideas, solutions, tips, curriculum help, and support between leaders, teachers, and staff.
At the same time that his district was shifting the educational paradigm, he and his team were looking at the tools to help add innovation and creativity into the classroom. They started calling their philosophy melding technology and creativity “digital learning,” and Matt started by defining their goals. “The innovation piece is, are we going to create creative classrooms? How are we going to create classrooms that are modeling the world around us and their dynamic and active learning?”
He concentrated on professional development for his educators and staff, and the hard work has paid off. “When all is said and done,” Matt says, “in the past two years we’ve gone from no wireless in any building and no student devices to fully wireless and 3,000 Chromebooks in student’s hands.”