Mesa Showcases Tech, Supports Innovation Teams

Mesa Superintendent Mike Cowan gets a tour

Mesa Public Schools is hosting a two day Tech Expo.  The 65,000 student district east of Phoenix has a talented team of educators led by Superintendent Dr. Michael Cowan.

Everywhere I go I tell people that what has changed the most in the last two years is that many teachers (as well as parents and students) have already flipped and blended and are just waiting for us to catch up.  I tell superintendents that they need to find a way to leverage this huge wave of teacher leadership. Cowan gets it–and the Tech Expo is a great example of his strategy to leverage teacher leadership.

Next month Cowan’s team will award 10-20 grants to Innovation Teams–groups of teachers that have come together to pilot innovative teaching and tools.  The Tech Expo was designed to give those teachers exposure to the best apps and tools out there.

Cowan and I toured the Expo last night.  We stopped and visited with:

  • Pearson, SuccessMaker, GradPoint, and more


Acknowledging “The pathway to converting our classrooms to 21st century learning environments is not clearly defined,” Mesa is using a small portion of a bond passed last year to bring their “classrooms into the 21st century.”  Here are the ground rules:

  • Innovation teams comprise teachers of the same grade level (elementary) or subject area (secondary), who would like to integrate innovative technology into their teaching.

  • To prepare for the next school year, innovation team members must commit to paid training and curriculum development time during the upcoming summer.

  • The district will provide innovation teams with the technology needed, access to appropriate programs and Internet connectivity, and training/technical assistance during the pilot.

It’s great to see a district that gets it and is moving forward by leveraging teacher talent.  If you’re in the Phoenix area, drop by the Mesa Convention Center and see for yourself!
Curriculum AssociatesMIND Research Institute, and Pearson are Getting Smart Advocacy Partners

Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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