Q&A with Los Angeles Unified School District Instructional Technology Initiative Leader:
Sophia Mendoza is Director of the LAUSD Instructional Technology Initiative (ITI) which leads with quality instruction to focus on teachers and students and then incorporates technology. ITI is making great strides with this insightful approach. LAUSD is the second largest school district in the country. CETF is partnering with LAUSD ITI on implementing School2Home in 15 middle schools to improve academic performance.
Q: Please describe your philosophy in integrating technology in the classroom?
A: It’s personal for me. For example, at the turn of the century, my daughter will be 88. I keep in mind all of the work we are collectively doing is going to impact the next three generations to come.
Leading with instruction means centering equity and access for students, so that all learners receive the instructional scaffolding needed to thrive in a digital world. While the tools leveraged for instruction may vary, the teacher's role in facilitating and designing the environment remains constant. Technology is not a replacement for teaching; therefore, instructional technology decisions should not lead with the device.
This approach ensures the process is not dependent on the logistics or technical specifications of implementing software or hardware, but intentionally focuses on the creative, intentional, and rigorous instructional experience.
Q: For three years, LAUSD ITI has officially partnered with the California Emerging Technology Fund on the implementation of School2Home and convening of the Los Angeles Regional Collaborative Learning Community in partnership with school improvement intermediary partners. How is this collaboration helping you shape your strategies for goals at ITI?
A: The need to establish strategic and beneficial partnerships for now and the future will never be done. It comes down to ensuring alignment in our mission to best serve our educators and students.
Key learnings to embarking on this process include leading with instruction, designing and developing various professional learning experiences for school leaders, and leveraging the ISTE Standards and 10 Core Components of School2Home. We want to ensure that our professional learning sessions bridge the gap between content and application, and connect theory to practice. In addition to the ISTE Standards and School2Home Components, our team also infuses change-management strategies and adult learning theories into this much needed work to help today's students thrive in our increasingly digital world.