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Cross-housing BL/PL under Teaching and Learning and Technology

“We didn’t want the instructional component to fall to the side.” (Kyleigh Nevis)

Overview

Context: More and more districts are creating a dedicated role for a centrally-staffed Director or Coordinator of Blended/Personalized Learning. This move signals, on the one hand, that the district is committed to changing instructional practices, but, on the other, that blended learning is often relegated to a single department to act as the change agent for the district. Blair Mishleau, Director of Personalized Learning at Western School of Science and Technology in Phoenix, AZ, wrote in EdSurge that, “when a school [or district] hires a singular position to own a large change, it sends a message that one person owns the responsibility to change practices across the whole staff.” Mishleau goes on to say that, “As the director of personalized learning, I was the mastermind behind the vision, but didn’t have the power to pull the levers of change myself.”

Action Steps: In order to set this position up for success, districts have taken different approaches. In Oakland Unified School District, CA, Kyleigh Nevis, the Instructional Technology Coordinator, operates under both the district’s Department of Teaching and Learning and Technology Services. She is responsible for building the capacity of both teachers and leaders. “It was important for me to be situated under Teaching and Learning (rather than technology), so that people didn’t see me as just a tech person,” says Nevis. By creating a centralized role clearly linked to instructional practice, the team is signaling that personalizing learning is not a peripheral classroom tool, but a fundamental approach to instruction. Nevis explains, “I’m doing technical work, but I’m mostly in the business of building mindset and informing decision-making."