George Lucas Educational Foundation
Technology Integration

Gearing Up for 1:1: Proper Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance

    At 12:30 P.M. I am sitting in an airport waiting for a flight to NYC. I am a tad embarrassed to be sitting here, truth be told, as I should have been on the 6 A.M. flight, and should have been in a museum by now.

    But I made the classic A.M/P.M. mistake when setting the old alarm clock last night, and awoke too late to do anything but throw myself upon the mercy of the airlines. My father, were he still living, would ask me, as I am apt to ask our kids from time to time, "So, what did you learn from that?" Trust me, I have learned plenty.

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    I have been reminded of a saying that was common among the crew of carpenters I worked with for three of the years between my college graduation and the discovery that I was meant to be an educator: "The 6 Ps: Proper Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance." In the original there were 7 Ps, and it was more apt to be recited to the fellow who had just cut a board off at 6' 7" instead of 7' 6", but it is a saying that has become a cornerstone of my life.

    When I begin a conversation around a piece of work with a school, district, or large-scale project, I begin by asking about the planning -- who was involved? Where was it done? When did it happen? How many sessions? Why was the decision made to move ahead? The answers to these questions provide me with a firm foundation from which to support the effort. If I didn't know this stuff, I might move ahead with assumptions, and that can be deadly.

    So what about your school community's thinking on 1:1? What level of planning is going on ahead of the game? Is the planning being done with a broad group of stakeholders? Is the teacher's voice clear? How about parents? Students? Technicians? Administrators? If I were to ask a person on the street why you were doing this, would they know? How about PR? Is that part of the plan? Do you have a way to share the good news of how this effort supports teaching and learning?

    I have asked lots of teachers this question: "How many of you have ever come back to your classroom in the fall, and found a new computer on your desk that you didn't know was coming?" Many hands go up and heads nod in response. But when I ask this question, "How many of you have ever come back to your classroom in the fall and found a new water or sand table in your PK or K classroom, or boxes of non-fiction books to support your curriculum that you didn't know were coming?" and no hands go up. These never appear without a fight, it would seem.

    Please, don't mistake my advocacy for planning to suggest that no technology infusions can be supported unless they are directly connected to standards or other measures. To the contrary, I would think that planning to use technology to encourage teacher innovation, inspire community involvement, and foster collegial collaboration are just as important.

    So how is your planning going? Think about it -- proper prior planning is the ultimate no-cost / low-cost way to make the most out of any technology-rich project. Are you in a school that carefully plans for technology infusions? Tell me about it.