Edtech Leadership in 2022 With Indiana COSN Board Member Chantell Manahan


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  • Sean

Welcome to the K-12 Tech podcast. I am Sean. I’m at the Cleveland office, and we also have Mike, who’s in Indiana. I am the Northeastern Region Sales Representative. Mike takes care of Indiana and Michigan.

  • Mike

And Illinois.

  • Sean

And Illinois. And then we also have Chantell Manahan from MSD. Steubenville I believe.

  • Chantell

Steuben County.

  • Sean

Steuben County. Sorry. Joining us today to talk about kind of what her day-to-day looks like and the role she plays in technology and education. So I’m going to kind of give the floor to you, Chantell. And away we go.

  • Chantell

Okay, well, feel free to interrupt me if you need any clarification. I’ll try to tell my story. Actually, Mike and I have met several times and he reached out to me and said, “Hey, I saw your post about how you used to be a French teacher. That’s pretty unusual that the French teacher became the Technology Director of the school corporation. That’s just pretty cool. Let’s talk about that.”

So, yes, I started my career as a high school French teacher. I did that for six years over in Bryan, Ohio, which isn’t too far from me.

And then I got a call two days before school started from my home school. I’ve always lived here in Angola, Indiana. And they said, “We need an English teacher and you want to be here with a two-minute commute, right?” So I packed all my classroom up over the weekend and I started teaching English here.

I came from a school district that was now pretty advanced in technology for the time. So we’re talking 2008, 2007. We weren’t quite 1-to-1, but we had so many carts of MacBooks and iPads that I could have computers in my classroom all day, any day if I wanted them. Being a French teacher, technology really is kind of a necessity. I’m teaching students, you know, in rural Indiana, Ohio area. There are cornfields all around. How do I bring that world to my students?

And so I started, you know, dipping my toes into technology that way. And then they did this really crazy thing to me where they would say, small school district. They’d be like, “Well, Chantell, you know, these three kids, they can’t fit French three in their schedules.” And I’m like, “How do you do this?”

I don’t I’m losing my mind. I’m not serving my students very well. And they didn’t even really know what blended learning was or a flipped classroom. But that’s what I started doing because technology was available to me.

And luckily, I had a Technology Director who would listen to what I was trying to do, and he would help accommodate all of those things and make sure that it happened. So I started flipping lessons.

I started creating all kinds of digital content. My students were creating digital content, and this was way before Google Classroom, and we were doing all kinds of crazy, “Okay, so you have to create it from this folder because this folder is already shared with me. So everybody on the first day create a shared folder.”

It was all worth it. So I was really blessed. And then I came back to teach here at my home school and I walked into the classroom. No mobile device. Didn’t have a laptop as a teacher. The same desktop computer was sitting there with Windows XP on it that was there when I did my student teaching here.

We hired a Technology Coordinator really in charge of professional development for the district the second year I was teaching here, and she kind of sparked that digital momentum for us. So we started having professional development.

She brought Google to us and then I kind of became, “You’re the Google girl. You have experience with Google. Tell me how this works.”

So I started doing a lot of training here in the District. I was working on my principal licensure at that time and I thought, you know, I thought I’d be a principal, but that’s not how things worked out. And our Technology Director retired. That Coordinator took over and she only lasted six months in the job and she realized, “This crazy is not for me. I like crazy, but I like a different kind of crazy.”

So she left in the middle of the year and the Superintendent came to my to my classroom and I was like, “Oh, I am in trouble.” Like the Superintendent does not come to people’s classrooms. So he comes in and he says, “So you have an administrator’s license. You’re the go-to person for technology around here. And I’ve seen you put on like homecoming festivities, prom, and you just single-handedly managed our whole high school accreditation process. Pretty mad organizational skills. Did you know we have technology administrators?”

I was like, “Okay, well, I really don’t know exactly what that’s all about, but I love technology. I love teaching with technology, and I’ll give it a shot.”

So I came in and again, I said I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into. I knew a few of the Technology Directors in the state, but immediately put myself in a CTO To Be Program, so a mentorship program for new and aspiring technology directors here in Indiana. And that’s really kind of what started me on this path is that we have this fantastic network of ed tech leadership established in Indiana, well-established in Indiana.

And they put me in the program. I got to mentor for the year. Got linked up with lots of other prominent technology directors. And all of a sudden now I had people I could call. I could email, “I have a question. I don’t know about…” And I wasn’t navigating this thing by myself in a small rural district. Instead, I have this great network of people.

So now here I am in the day-to-day, and we’re a small team. A lot of school districts have people for lots of different tasks. There are only five of us, including me. We are fortunate that we do sub out our Chromebook break-fix to K-12 Tech, but other than that, we handle everything ourselves here.

And that’s a challenge because even when I took over and we had begun that digital transformation, you know, we completed our 1-to-1 Chromebook initiative on my watch. We began implementing e-learning days on my watch. We offer so much more support and so many more services and tools than we did six and a half years ago when I took over. We’ve undergone dramatic changes. We changed our student information system. We’ve taken on a huge interoperability initiative. We, until about a year ago when we got a new Curriculum Director, we drove all professional development here in our school district basically for five and a half years.

So it’s an enormous lift. So my day could vary. I could be literally out in a building, moving equipment around if that’s what’s needed. I could be helping. I do have a data specialist now who handles power, school and state reporting, but I could be hacking through a problem with state reporting and Edify with her.

  • Sean

Wow. That is. Yeah. I could see how you’d be incredibly busy every single day.

  • Chantell

Yep. So I talked a little bit about that mentorship program that I joined, and that’s through our state chapter of CoSN. And CoSN stands for the Consortium for School Networking, and they are the only professional organization for K-12 district-level technology leaders.

So their headquarters is in Washington, D.C. and they work kind of around a framework for technology leadership. That is, there are ten strands that fall under three buckets. So there’s the leadership ambition bucket, there’s the instructional bucket, and there’s the operational bucket.

And there, you know, the whole premise is that to be good at district technology leadership, you need all three of those buckets. You can’t just have instruction only and not be an operational leader. You have to be the one driving vision and sitting at that really like superintendents, cabinet level.

And so then every state can have a state chapter of CoSN. They offer a certification called the CETL, the Certified Educational Technology Leader, and that’s the only accredited certification for the district K12 technology lead. And I mean, it’s a pretty rigorous exam that they make you take that encompasses questions around those three buckets, and then you have to renew that certification every three years. So that’s the same model that CoSN uses for the CETL that we’ll renew that every three years by proving that we’ve gone to professional development and hopefully gotten better at our jobs.

So I’m on the board of our State CoSN chapter and there are eight of us now. And we get together once a month just to work on visioning for the chapter and things that we can offer.

So some things that we’ve done besides that mentorship program, which happens annually, we invite aspiring or new Technology Directors. We match them up with someone with experience, and then all year long they study for that CETL, that CETL certification. Together, we also go through there’s a John Maxwell book called The 360 Degree Leader, which talks about how leadership isn’t about titles. It’s about how you influence other people. And if you’re a leader, your you know, you’re leading those people who follow you, who report to you, but you’re also leading your peers. We get a lot of support from our State Department of Education. And our group is kind of that bridge between the idea of leadership and what’s happening in the districts. We actually have a representative from the idea who sits as a nonvoting member on our board, and we always have had and that’s been huge to our success here as a state chapter.

We do put on our own conference every year, and our conference is coming up. It’s May 12th and 13th and K-12 Tech is going to be a sponsor. So I’m excited to have you all there. But this year, I’ve been one of the three board members in charge of putting that conference together, which has been an incredible amount of work. Incredibly rewarding, though. I love going to conferences. I know if you follow me on social media, you saw I was just at the CoSN conference in Nashville. I’m headed over to the Brainstorm Conference next week in Sandusky, Ohio.

You know, we have a great conference. Heck is in the fall. So I’m a big believer in that continued professional learning and conferences are just the best because you’re just immersed in that environment, and you’re around your people. There’s energy when you’re all in the room together, and you’re sharing ideas, and we don’t get that in our day-to-day necessarily. Zoom makes it easier, but it’s not the same as actually being in the same room with those other people.

So the clinic is going to kind of cover the themes that we and CoSN, our parent chapter organization, we feel that, you know, if you’re an edtech leader, there are certain like CoSN initiatives, like data interoperability, student data privacy, CoSN offers a peer review process where they will have some of the CETLs come in. So I’m excited to hear some of those things that are going to be going on.

And then, if you’re an attendee at our conference, we always have a Topgolf event which is super fun too.

  • Mike

Thank you for sharing all that. I guess a couple of questions I had.

So you mentioned you went through the mentor program. Who was your mentor and how do you interact?

  • Chantell

So there’s always a big reveal. It’s a big secret. So they send out a call for who wants to be in the program and be the mentees and who wants to be a mentor in the program. And you don’t know until we have a launch day in August. You get down there and Pete Just is in charge of the program and he changes the slide and it’s a big reveal and everyone’s like, “Who is paired with who?”

So my mentor was Jay Drew, and he’s actually not a Technology Director anymore. He went back to the classroom teaching physics, but he was my mentor throughout that first year. Then I took a year off after I earned my CETL, but then the next year I started mentoring in the program. So it was a pretty awesome experience too. So I’ve mentored two people, and one didn’t end up taking the CETL exam, but the one who did, she passed. So we got another CETL in there now and that program always wraps up in May. It kind of ends for the year and then we’ll open the call out for the next round. So between May and the very beginning of August, we’ll take applications for people who want to join up for next year either on the mentor side or on the mentee side. So that’ll happen. I’ll open those up at the conference, the clinic, on May 13th end of that clinic. So that’s going on.

  • Mike

I’m glad one of your mentees went on to take the exam she passed. That’s great.

  • Chantell

Yeah. So, yeah.

  • Mike

Um, and then. Yeah, so you mentioned the national conference. So I guess how does that differ from the state chapter?

  • Chantell

Well, the national conference is really, you know, it’s on a grander scale, right? So they bring in more people, more sessions, more days. And you really get connected with those people, like from across the country or even, you know, we had some attendees at the National Conference from Canada.

We have a CETL who’s living in Europe right now that he attended virtually for the conference. They did have a virtual option. He didn’t come in. But you just get that grand scale. And whenever I go to a national conference, whether it’s CoSN or ISTE, you know, I always leave feeling, like, so proud of the work we’re doing in Indiana because we’re really fortunate of the leadership we’ve had, the leadership we’ve had the IDLE and how friendly they are towards edtech. Historically, they really understand our needs.

That doesn’t happen everywhere. There are states where, you know, the Department of Education isn’t supporting the work that’s happening in the district where they don’t have a good working relationship or, you know, before the pandemic. Here in Indiana, thanks to the hard work we put in, almost every school district was 1-to-1, at least at some grade levels, if not all grade levels. And then, you know, just interesting, like hearing those different experiences where, you know, there are still places that are just now like post-pandemic two years, like finishing their 1-to-1 implementation.

But we have state tech data for years that shows, you know, less than 5% of districts were not 1-to-1 at at least some grade levels. That’s huge. And then the work that has been done at the Department of Ed to build capacity and teachers or, you know, instructional lead using technology, we had those summer of e-learning conferences that happen for years that are coming back this summer. Rerun is not e-learning anymore, just the summer of learning, but really opportunities for teachers to experience, you know, kind of that world-class professional development, keynote speakers, energy and enthusiasm.

So I think that’s a big piece of that. The national conferences is, you know, commiserating. I don’t care if you’re from California or if you’re from Indiana, or you’re from Canada. We’re all struggling with the same problems. We’re all finding creative solutions and just that exchange of ideas.

One of the closing keynotes from the national CoSN conference said, I wrote this down. I’m going to I’m going to get a poster made up for my office. But it said, “You come to conferences to dream big dreams and don’t let those dreams die when you go back to your district.” I thought, “Wow, this is so powerful!” Because that is part of the whole experience. You know, you’re building all these ideas of all of these things that, you know, you could implement eventually, making plans, making connections. And then that’s the key, though. You have to act on them.

You can’t just come back and be like, “Oh, that was fun.” No! Now the work begins, right? So that’s so that was the national conference. I was able to give a session. We teamed up. So Pete Just, also from Indiana, and I represented the Indiana CTO Council.

We teamed up with Ohio and New Hampshire, and we just had a session where we shared how do we professionally develop those, not just new and aspiring technology directors, but what do we do for our people who’ve been doing this work?

Not every state or not every district is able to send people to the National Conference. So bringing those ideas back and sharing them is huge for our momentum as well.

  • Mike

Yeah. Yeah, no, that’s that’s absolutely great. And that’s what I love about that organization. And just in general schools working together, that’s that’s huge to me because obviously, you’re all different school districts, but you’re trying to achieve the same goals.

So I love seeing you all working together. Um, and I know you mentioned Pete Just a couple of times, so I did just hear he just announced his retirement, so I’m excited for him. Hopefully, he’ll get a little bit of rest, but I imagine he’ll still be sticking around.

  • Chantell

I’m positive. I don’t know that Pete can can do anything without leading. I mean, really, he’s been just an awesome mentor to so many of us here in Indiana. And I mean, he was the Chair of the National CoSN Board for a couple of years.

So, I mean, across the country, he’s been a leader and a mentor to a lot of people. And we’re really fortunate for the work that he like the groundwork he laid here. And, you know, hopefully, we have enough energy and enthusiasm.

I guess that’s something else I should mention, that this is all like volunteer work, right? No one’s getting paid to be on this CTO council. No one’s getting paid. You know, our perk for in exchange for our volunteer work is the CTO Council pays for part of our CoSN national travel expenses. So they pay for our registration and they give us a stipend towards the hotel cost. But this is all work like in addition to our normal job in our spare time. This is what we do is, you know, try to build capacity in others and build connections with others.

But, you know, the rewards that it pays back out to us are so worth it.

  • Mike

100%. That’s again, something else I love seeing is, like you just said, this is an addition to your normal work. So that just shows you you truly do care about that technology world and helping schools improve, which I love to see.

And I know it’s one of the reasons I really enjoy working with you and your district. Exactly. For reasons like that.

Trying to think there was something else that you had mentioned that I wanted to bring up.

So the CETL. So you said that was it’s so it’s like I guess it’s not just a national level thing. You said you have a Europe and Canada person. So can just anyone pretty much apply for that?

  • Chantell

So there are some requirements. You need either a bachelor’s degree and three years of working in district ed tech, or if you don’t have a bachelor’s degree, seven years of working in district ed tech. So those are like the qualifications.

And then CoSN has a study course that you can go through, they have either facilitated. So you would meet like weekly with someone going through the course with you or you can do the asynchronous and work through it yourself.

And that’s part of our mentorship program. I told you, we do the 360 leader. We match people up. We pay for all of the mentees to have access to this in the asynchronous study course. And so they can kind of go through at their own pace.

And then it used to be that you had to apply to give the CETL exam, so they always offered it at our CTO clinic in May. You would like the three or four people who are going to take it with you would sit in a room and one person will be trained as the proctor. Right? And you would take it, but it’s actually done at all the Prometric sites now. So you can sign up any time they’re offering that exam and go to the site and take it. And then you can even do it at home if you have, you know, meet the tech specs and you download the secure browser, you can take it at home, kind of at your leisure. And people who are going through that program can take the exam, you know, whenever they don’t have to wait till May when the program is done. We had someone who’d been working as a technology leader. He took the test in September. He got access to the study materials, looked through some things he felt he needed to brush up on a little bit, and went out and knocked it out of the park. So I think we’ve had four, five. We’ve had five of the of this year’s mentees already take the exam.

And, you know, I just I feel really passionately about, you know, growing other people as evidenced by this work. But, you know, something else I should mention is that my team, I mean, every year I’ve had someone go through, they’re not the Technology Director. But my Technology Coordinator went through the program the year after I did, and he decided to go back to the classroom last year. But he has a CETL. My data person at Buchanan got a CETL two years ago and now he left me midyear. I professionally developed him into a Technology Director job at a neighboring district, so I professionally developed him right out of ours, but happy for him. And this year one of my technicians is going through the CTO To Be program and he passed his CETL exam in December.

So, you know, really awesome when your team all speaks the same language. Your team all understands the same things and they all focus on, okay, well, yes, leadership and vision, instruction, operations. And it’s just really that common vocabulary and unified front or what ed tech should look like and how do we get there.

So, I mean, I have three more people next year. I already have the next person ready to go to the program because that’s our goal. Even if it means they leave us eventually, it’s our job to make sure that we develop our people into the best versions of themselves.

  • Mike

Develop your students and develop your team. So, yeah, that’s that’s wonderful. And like you said, sometimes, you know, it is painful to lose those people going up to a new job, but you train them well and they’re excited for their future opportunities.

And I know you definitely are. And it’s rewarding to see your work.

  • Chantell

And you know, it also gives you a chance. You know, I used to be a teacher. So this is that’s another reason I love conferences and I love being a part of this. It’s an opportunity to still teach, right?

You’re always teaching. You’re teaching the people on your team. You’re teaching the mentees in the program. You’re I mean, I don’t just love to go to conferences to like go to conferences. I love sharing the work we’re doing because people don’t know.

Like, if you ask anybody, “What does the District Technology Director do?” Like, I don’t know, it’s that a computer? So I mean, I think we don’t necessarily do a good job of explaining. We don’t tell our story very well. So that’s been a real focus for me, is I want people to know, you know, what this work is about. And I’ll go back to you know CoSN had the State of Ed Tech Leadership Report just got published, and almost a third of District Technology Directors/CTOs are going to retire within the next year.

That’s crazy! So how do we develop a pipeline of people who are prepared for this? Because it is a special kind of crazy work to be the District Technology Leader. And, you know, there are kids in our classrooms today and they’re some of them are dreaming about being a teacher. Some of them are probably even thinking about being a principal. None of them are sitting in the classroom today going, “I’d like to be the District Technology Director. That sounds really awesome.” But they know what teachers do, they know what principals do, and that’s really tangible. So if we’re not telling the world what we’re doing, then they’ll never know. It’s secret. One of the superintendents at the CoSN clinic said, “We’re almost like the great and powerful Oz behind the curtain. Right? It’s just like the magic people behind the curtain make all of the things happen.”

So, like, I want to pull that curtain back a little bit, and I want people to realize, you know, what exactly is involved in this work and what it takes to do it. And the only way is if we start explaining and that’s something else that kind of, you know, taking this role I had a lot of connections already and kind of the instructional coaching world or the principal world. Those people tend to be very public about the work that they do. They’re big on social media. They’re big on sharing. And I kind of thought to myself, “Oh, like I’m kind of leaving my people to become the Technology Director.” I know a couple of them, but I don’t know that. Oh, no, that’s. I just didn’t know yet. These are my people right there.

It’s that same level of like sharing, but a lot of them historically have been like, you know, head down, grinding, doing the work. And it’s time that we share what that work is about.

  • Sean

You know, I think it’s it’s funny, as you as you keep talking about the people that have trained under you or you’ve worked with or people at the conferences. I also used to be a teacher and then I got out of teaching and started working with K-12, still working with schools, but in a very different way.

And, you know, I think from what it sounded like, you kind of started using technology as a necessity because you had multiple grade levels at one time in the same class. And I truly don’t understand how that worked, but good on you.

But, you know and then, you know, with the pandemic and COVID and moving to virtual learning, schools that weren’t 1-to-1 were forced to be 1-to-1, which, again, good for you guys for already being there. That’s impressive.

I know a lot of schools were calling us for, hey, we need 2000 computers by next week. And sorry, there’s not much we can do about that right now. And so a lot of schools move to that virtual or using technology because of another necessity.

But I don’t I’m sure you’ve seen it and probably thought about it, too. Do you see us ever moving away from the amount of technology that we’re already using right now in classrooms, or is it just going to keep getting more and more involved?

  • Chantell

I think I mean, I honestly don’t see it ever going away. I do think we’ll get in deeper. You know, one of the famous things that they say at conferences that I go to is, “Pull out your phone. The amount of technology you have right now. You will never have less technology than this.” Less technology will not be available. You’re carrying a whole computer in your pocket, you know? And yeah, right on your wrist. You’re right! In your ear. Like it’s everywhere.

But I think, you know, the challenge here is it can never be about technology for technology’s sake. It always has to be rooted in advancing, teaching and learning. And that’s where, you know, we are starting to see some people get kind of this technology fatigue.

And they’re like, I just want to get on another Zoom or another lesson on my Chromebook. You know, now we have options. When we were all quarantined, your only option was right here. You got to get on that Chromebook.

But even then, in the hands of skilled teachers who are accustomed to using technology as part of their instruction, and students who are accustomed to learning with technology as part of their instruction, we have options. So, you know, I’m a parent, too.

And I can tell you there were some beautiful virtual lessons that my kids did during quarantine. And my kids’ teachers had them outside, you know. Draw you sidewalk chalk to draw a diagram of this science property and then take a picture with your Chromebook and turn it around Google classroom. You know, grab a book, and your mom needs to take a picture of you reading a book and upload it. Or you’re going to do a Zoom or a Google Meet and read a book to your grandma and take a picture of your screen with grandma on it.

You know, it’s all about, you know, having those instructional goals in mind and then finding the way that technology fits to make those a reality.

And the other pieces to getting our students and our teachers, instead of just consuming content, they need to be creating that content. You need to be creating those pictures of them, doing things with technology and saving it. They need to be creating those voice portfolios. They need to be building that capsule of look at this learning that I’ve accumulated. And technology is a way for me to share it. It’s a way for me to curate it. And it’s a way for me to create.

And that’s hopefully the direction that we’ll see as everyone’s in school again and teachers and students are accustomed to things it’s not. Putting a worksheet on a Chromebook is not good instruction. Just like just giving a kid a worksheet every day is not good instruction. So there’s that.

  • Sean

I think that’s kind of the slippery slope. Right? So you want to be engaging and exciting with the technology and use it to the best of its capabilities. But at the same time, what about those teachers who used to use, you know, the textbook?

You walk into class and say, “Alright, read chapter seven.” And then that was that’s all you did were. Now, let’s go through the slides on the presentation that I made for you on Google Classroom. And that’s what you’re going to do all day, every day.

And I think that’s where it comes into. That’s all on the teacher, right? That they’re no longer instructing or some of them are no longer instructing. They’re just passing off the lessons that they made for COVID are now what they’re doing in the classroom.

And that’s just not that’s not how it should be used.

  • Chantell

No. And that’s where you really see that fatigue come in and you see, you know, families being upset, students being upset. And I mean, you can’t tell me that teacher is happy with that either way. But there’s so much fatigue.

And I think that’s really where teachers need support. And that’s why, you know, I thought I was going to be a principal because I had three principals in three years when I taught over in Ohio. And I thought, oh, you know, teachers need more support than this.

Teachers deserve someone who is going to be an instructional leader in their building. And then teachers deserve, you know, instructional coaching. They deserve, you know, someone at the district or in their building who can kind of be charged with that.

And that’s something that I’m really proud. I think we’ve done a great job here with things. We used to always run a workshop model pre-COVID, so we would pay for a sub for the day for a teacher, and that teacher would come to the central office and just immerse themselves with the Technology Coordinator, you know, in their learning for the day. They’d have time to learn new skills, apply them, start building their lesson, using those new skills and tools. And, you know, we often offered the same workshop session multiple times throughout the year.

So we’ve been using virtual learning for a day at a time, a couple of days at a time for inclement weather for six years. And you know, we did a lot of prep work with teachers before that.

Here are some here’s what a good virtual lesson looks like. And then we got feedback from our families, from our students, and from our teachers. And then we offered more professional development. Here’s what a good virtual lesson looks like.

But then we’d offer that same workshop, you know, three or four times during the year because it’s your chance to improve those lessons. So you can come all four times because the lesson you started the year with should not be the lesson that you ended the year with.

You should have learned more about from the feedback of your parents and your students and from the feedback of, you know, more instructional tools at your disposal. You’re more comfortable with them, your students are more comfortable with them.

It should look completely different. And I’m proud that we’ve been able to keep that model going. And then we even offered it virtually during COVID to teachers. We offered those same things on our off days. We did instruction three days a week and used our waiver days.

And on those off days, we had sessions for teachers to build and grow this year. We use part of our Esser funding to fund a position that reports to the Technology Department. We’re calling it the Online Safety Specialist, and we hired a teacher to do it. She is amazing, but she monitors the content and filter. That’s her main job. And digital citizenship has become really proactive because as she sees students, you know, misbehaving as they will, she meets with each one of them. She conferences with them.

They go through the acceptable use policy. Talk about where, you know, they’ve been violating that. They may get their rights restricted for a little while, but then they meet with her again a couple of weeks later. They get those lifted as long as they can explain, they can articulate what they did, and how it violated the AUP.

So that’s been really cool. And then as serious issues come up, you know, we created some flowcharts. So like when does she need to get Guidance involved? When does she need to get a principal involved? When does the SRO need to be in on a meeting?

But then she handles all of that. She handles our classroom management tools. She helps teachers with professional development on those things. She’s been helping build lessons for the classroom, and that honestly used to be part of the Technology Coordinator’s job.

And because we’ve freed that up from the Technology Coordinator who’s the professional development person for our district, this year, we’ve been able to move to a coaching model, which has been huge. So my Technology Coordinator, Jonathan Winslow, is amazing.

He’s new to me this year and he’ll go in and he’ll do a four-week coaching cycle with our teachers. So he’ll go in, observe them teach. He’ll model lessons for them and then they take control back over that reading block or that math block or what have you.

And all the while, you know, he is empowering them to, you know, embrace a blended learning model to embrace what good instruction with technology embedded looks like. We have seen phenomenal growth in our teachers. And I’ll tell you what, they were already great. So that’s been so exciting.

  • Sean

Yeah, that’s great. I mean, the more again, coming from the classroom as well, you know, it’s one thing to send out an email or a memo. Here’s what we’re going to try to do, whatever. But to actually get in front of somebody and walk through something with them is much more beneficial than even watching a tutorial or something online. Being there is is just so much better and conferences are great for that too. I miss going to conferences. They were so much fun.

  • Chantell

Well, you should come to our conference then, because when it’s not vendor time, you can go to sessions.

  • Sean

I might have to look into that then. Well, they canceled the one here in Columbus.

  • Chantell

Oh yeah.

  • Sean

It was virtual again this year, which is a bummer because we missed it last year too, and I was really looking forward to this one. But maybe next year, I don’t know.

  • Chantell

Next year. Yeah. And you know, that’s a great thing about I’m like right next to Ohio up here where I’m from. So last year I, Ohio has a CoSN chapter, and I was able to attend their conference virtually last year, which was awesome.

But then like developing those friendships like between state chapters of CoSN too. So that’s huge. We just were talking in Nashville with Mike Daughtry and Bill Fritz are from Ohio and we’re they’re from their chapter over like we’re like how do we how do we work together so that we’re not both recreating everything?

Because they’ve kind of looked at us, we kind of dropped the ball. Our state chapter did during COVID. We didn’t run a mentorship program last year because of all of the craziness that was going around. So we decided this year we needed to really needed to rebrand a little bit, and we needed to be more public. So we have like some, we’ve made some commercials for our clinic and for CoSN and, and for our chapter and for the mentorship. And we’ve really stepped up our social media game. We started putting out a newsletter, those kind of things, and they’re like, “Hey, how do we can you send me that template for your newsletter?”

So again, just those connections and working together is really what it boils down to, because it’s that connection in the classroom that, you know, students and teachers are forming together. That’s where the magic happens. And then teachers forming those connections within their building with teachers, you know, with technology, with teachers across the country, and then us forming that connection with our teaching staff. So all those connections together, you know, we can build something pretty big if we’re not all working in our own little silos.

  • Sean

Yeah. It is amazing. I mean, it truly is amazing. You mentioned Mike. Chagrin Falls was my rival high school when I was when I was in high school. So they’re one of our clients now and he’s great to work with.

But it’s until I started in this position, I never knew that all these technology people knew each other at every single school. Not even just even in the same area, but outside of the state or states away. And it really is an incredible web of networking that that is in this industry.

  • Chantell

Well, and I think that, you know, I don’t know, I’ve ever worked outside of education. I don’t know that it’s like that everywhere. But education is is a special place because, you know, we’re ultimately all in this for teaching and learning.

I mean,  if I went to the private sector, I guarantee you I could be a Technology Director somewhere and probably double my salary. But some things are more important than that. Right? So it’s making a difference. It’s impacting, you know, all of these students. And hopefully, you know, that experience that they have with technology is one small piece of what they take with them out into the world.

  • Sean

Absolutely. Well, what’s what’s next? Are we running for president or?

  • Chantell

No, not running for president. No. You know, I’m I I’ve gotten you know, I’ve gotten some job offers in the last year or so. But, you know, I live here. I’m happy with what I do. I’m really good at it.

But I, I do, you know, I want to keep working with the CTO council. I’m working on a superintendents license, so that’s pretty exciting. Again, I’m always learning and I do. I know I have a long, long time left to work in education, so want to put that in the back pocket and then going to the EDS program at Indiana Wesleyan and they just started an EDD program. So I’m pretty sure I’m going to sign up for that and I’ll be Dr. Manahan in about two years. So the way their program goes. So that’s I think that’s on my roadmap for now.

But now I feel like I came into this position and I, you know, like I said, I did not know anything about the job of being a technology director. And here I am, six and a half years in, I have my CETL. I am pretty successful at what I do, but I know I can be better. Like I know we can do more. I know we can serve more. I know we have a lot of data work that I still want to work on.

Student Data Privacy Things. CoSN has a trusted Learning Environment Sseal, which is a pretty rigorous application process to prove that your district is committed to the top levels of student data privacy. Only a very select number of districts in the country have earned it.

I do want to give a shout-out to the one Indiana district is Zionsville Schools. Dan Layton is the Tech Director down there, the CTO.

  • Mike

And we actually do Zionsville Schools as well so.

  • Chantell

You know Dan but so shout out to them they were one of the first round of recipients of the Trust Learning Environment Seal and he tells an awesome, funny story about his second day on the job and getting a call from a parent lawyer who read him his rights about he wanted to know exactly what data on his student was being shared with whom and, and was like, “Okay, let me get back to you on that.”

And so he’s done incredible work down there and that’s something that I aspire for our district, too, to get there.

So I’m kind of a data girl. And I think part of that is, you know, the background in foreign language, right? Like the grammar and the communication. And to me, data is just another language, right? So how do you make that language come together in meaningful ways? How do you wrangle it? So instead of all your verbs conjugated correctly and all of your nouns declined, instead we’re making sure that that data is clean across services and that all that data is interoperable. So we’ve done a lot of work already in data here, but there’s more we can do.

  • Mike

Yeah, that’s great. I’m like I said, I’m excited for Dr. Manahan. Sean, do you have anything else? Any other questions?

  • Sean

Nothing else other than I’m incredibly impressed. And best of luck with the doctorate.

  • Chantell

Thank you. It’s nice to be here.

  • Sean

You stay busy, that’s for sure.

  • Mike

I guess this is pretty much it for today. Thank you, everybody, for listening. See K-12 Tech and Chantell at the Indiana CTO Clinic May 12th and 13th. We’ll be there and I’m super excited to meet everyone.

So thank you so much for listening.

  • Sean

Thank you for joining us.

Show transcript