Learning to Be Learners: Technology

Before becoming principal of Spruance Elementary School, Kwand Lang spent years as an education coach, teaching teachers. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Lang – like many educators – once again took on a role as student, learning new technologies to support his students and staff in the virtual learning environment.

“COVID didn’t change the way we were great for our children, but it changed the way we had to deliver that greatness,” said Lang. “The pandemic can’t be looked at as a catastrophe in education. It simply required many of us, myself included, to learn to be learners again and deliver instruction that aligned with the technological needs of the 21st century.”

From the outset of the pandemic, Lang made himself the proverbial “guinea pig.” Drawing on lessons of the Neubauer Fellowship, he understood the need to show vulnerability as he asked his faculty and staff to change and adapt quickly. While initially surprised by the amount of fear his staff had around technology, Lang spent valuable time upfront having one-on-one conversations, building advocates, and demonstrating that he was not afraid to ask for help in learning new platforms, even from his own children.

“I quickly saw that we couldn’t be a jack of all trades in terms of the technology. We needed to pick a platform and master it. I said to my faculty and staff, ‘Let’s get good at one thing and let’s choose what’s intuitive for the kids.’ For us, that was Google Meet and Google Suite. It allowed teachers to engage directly with students and parents in breakout rooms and chats while also allowing me to interact and collaborate with my team of 150.”

By embracing technology, Lang said the process showed how these tools can create efficiencies and engagement even when school returns to fully in-person instruction in the fall.

“Technology is here forever. It’s part of the way we now build community and engage students. We need to take the best lessons of virtual learning forward and integrate them into in-person teaching. Right now, I’m mapping out a year of professional development because at the end of the day, you have to go to the data, use it to disrupt and be great for the kids.”