Friday, May 13, 2011

Building a new century

“Building a new century” was the name for a dream.  The fact that we are talking about its “Post Mortem” brings mixed feelings.   In 2003, I had the opportunity to teach at an Elementary School in a rural area at Puerto Rico.  It was a beautiful small school where I used to study in my elementary years.  For my surprise, when I was hired as a first grade teacher I found that every classroom was kept in the same way it was when I studied there.  No technology was present or used in an instructional way.  As a teacher, I shared my technology integration ideas with my principal asking for the permission to write a proposal for a grant.  I had no prior experience in this writing process.  Presenting my ideas to the staff and administrators was interesting; they laughed and my administrators just said that it was up to me.

Next day, I was researching, writing, planning, designing and wishing.  My proposal included the creation of two full equipped classrooms with 10 computers each, a computer lab, mini labs of 5 computers in 3 classrooms, 1 computer for each classroom, TV and DVD player for each classroom, printers, projectors and the use of Plato software’s (language arts, math and science).  For everyone’s surprise the grant was approved and $300,000 were assigned to our school.  My next step was to set everything up, train and implement.

What contributed to the project’s success or failure?
“Constructing a new century” project fails its initial dream and goal.  The first challenge was the absence of a team.  It was great to have new equipments; the only problem there was no commitment on learning how to use them effectively.  Each participant should be committed and understand their responsibilities as players of a team. (Greer, 2010)  Many teachers were afraid to allow the students use the equipments and others did not take care of it.  The fact that I was teacher and coordinator at the same time limited my time and space to train other teachers and supervise the implementation process.  The software used was designed and aligned to National Standards, bringing difficulties to its use.  Teacher needed to translate worksheets since all students were Spanish speakers.  Students were motivated in the learning process; teachers could not change their traditional teaching methods.  At this point students were reading texts from a screen instead of a textbook. 

Which parts of the PM process, if included, would have made the project more successful? Why?

The project management should include time management, staffing management and weekly status and issues report.  This project became a giant for one person to control and manage.  My days as coordinator became very long and the week started to have 6 or 7 days of work.  One limitation was the lack of a curriculum to follow and to enrich with technology.  Each teacher was responsible for developing their lessons and adding technology, which was a challenge for them.

In 2005, I moved to Maryland, leaving a dream behind.  Many teachers continue using technology and others covered their equipments.  “Building a new century", was more than just a design; it was needed a team.


Greer, M. (2010). The project management minimalist: Just enough PM to rock your projects! (Laureate custom ed.). Baltimore: Laureate Education, Inc.


  1. Evylyn
    WOW! I really appreciate your vision and dedication to this project! Sometimes it takes doing something like this, even as large as it was for one person, to show others what is possible! A "failure" is only limited to your perception when in reality, I could see a lot of success! Being the first to do something does not mean it always has to be perfect and meet all the objective. It means we all benefit from seeing someone taking the initiative to do something that others laughed at and offered no support. In hinds sight, do you think that if you had stayed that it would have been even more successful? What are some things you would have done if you had stayed?

    Thanks fos sharing such a great project!!

  2. Evelyn,

    You have a lot to be proud of. That project had the capabilities to be even more successful if a team was set in place to work with you and support you. Your vision and fortitude brought a substantial change to an environment that was complacent and unwilling to move into a new direction. You have left your mark there.

  3. Hi Evylyn,

    You should consider youself a visionary that did a great job! You had the vision, knowledge and skills what was missing was a team to help support your dream. Implementing new technology in an educational setting is a big undertaking, and you set the process in motion - great job!


  4. Terri Williams,

    Congratulations on all your hard work and effort to make learning better and
    more up to date for the students at your old elementary school. You are the
    kind of teacher every school should want to have teaching their students.
    You have a vision and goals to make sure no student is left behind.

    I love your Blog site!

  5. Thanks to all for your support!!!

    I was not an easy job. The reason I moved was the need to find a better place to live for my family (deciding to move to Maryland on 2005). I am sure that I would continue to motivate the staff to make a change. Many students appreciate the effort and their learning experience.

    When I moved to Maryland, I had the opportunity to do the same. This time funds were available and no idea on what to do with them. I feel that I had the opportunity to reach a dream.

    Next year, I might have to move to another school. Who knows what the future will bring?

  6. Wow Evylyn!
    I agree with everyone else, you should be proud of your accomplishment with “Building a new century.” I don't think your project was a failure, I think you moved that forward. As I said to Charisse in her blog, it never ceases to amaze me the lack of support all the teachers receive from their administration. The staff and administrators had a chance be an active part of a visionary project and they laughed. I feel sorry for them, but proud that you took on this huge and amazing project. Congratulations!

  7. You are brave to take on a project like that. I have never taken on a project that big but I have experienced similar situations on a smaller scale. We have been upgrading our technology in all of our schools. I was the person helping the teachers in our school during this process. Many teachers are using the new technology but many are not. It is frustrating when the equipment is given to the teachers and for whatever reason they don’t try to utilize it. You should be proud of your work. Not many would have taken on that much work alone. The important thing is that if you take on a project like that again you will be better prepared because of the prior experience.

  8. Evylyn,

    First let me say congratulations! It must have been so rewarding to have your grant approved and funded. The issue you ran into with teachers who were afraid to use the technology comes up frequently with schools / districts trying to integrate technology into the classroom. Teachers who are unfamiliar with it get frustrated and give up. It certainly would have helped, if your school had decided to create a full time technology person to help with trainings during the implementation process. One method some schools have used is to provide teachers who already know how to use the technology and want to use it with the items they need and allow the other teachers to hear and learn about it through them. Once they are comfortable with it they then provide the technology to more and more teachers; basically waiting for the teachers who wouldn’t use it if they felt they were forced to, to get jealous. 

    I actually experienced something similar to this last week. Each teacher at my school has their different comfort level with technology in the classroom. I have been working on a project with my 7th grade Geography students and decided to use Google Docs so that students could work on presentations simultaneously. I discussed the project with the other 7th Grade Geography teacher when I was working out the details of the project, but that was about it. By the end of the week, I had several teachers asking what I was doing with technology that was so cool, because they kept hearing about it from the students. Several teachers are now trying to figure out how they can work Google Docs into their class. If I have conducted training on Google Docs, I doubt I would have seen the same number of teachers as excited to use the technology in their classroom. It was hearing the excitement of the students that sealed the deal.