It all starts with Literacy.

Staff reflections: Barbara Gilbert

In this series, “Staff Reflections,” we introduce the members of the Innovations for Learning team, who will tell us what brought them to our organization and why they’re excited to do this work. 
Today: Barbara Gilbert, National Education Director.

DSC_0017 - Version 2I came to Innovations for Learning because of a passion for its mission: spreading  blended learning models and digital learning in order to individualize instruction for kids.

I’ve worked as a building principal, then in the for-profit e-learning sector for 15 years. I kept seeing a recurring issue: Districts spent millions of dollars on technology and software only to see it “sit on the shelf” after a year or so.

Vendors came in with a sexy PowerPoint promising incredible gains, the latest in functionality, real technological change and ease of use.  Yet education as a whole does not look much different than a classroom from 20, 30 or 40 years ago.

If you were to take away the desks, chairs and chalkboard (whiteboard) in a classroom, the teacher would be frantic; however if you were to remove the four or five computers that might be sitting in the back of the classroom, the impact would most likely be minimal.

Why?  Because the technology still is not integral to a teacher’s daily instruction.  To really be effective, digital learning requires a change in instructional design, in the daily schedule, in how instruction is delivered.

Most of all, digital learning requires simple, raw change.  Change is hard unless you have a mentor, a coach, a solid partner.

That is what IFL is.  We are that solid partner.  We seek out innovative districts that want to implement sustainable, blended learning models, and help them get there.

The IFL model is unique in that we provide digital technology along with a fulltime, on-site Teacher Ambassador, so that technology becomes essential to a teacher’s daily instruction. We stay with our partner districts year after year to ensure the success of this blended model. And we help provide the funding to do it!

As the National Director of Education, I am charged with finding the innovative districts to partner with, then working to ensure the integrity of those partner-relationships through the years.

Though I live in Seattle, my office is … the nation!  I meet with district leaders across the U.S. to share our nonprofit work and to discuss what a partnership entails.  After multiple meetings it becomes clear rather quickly if our innovative work is a fit for the district. 

My work is amazingly rewarding — I’m able to see changes that make an impact in classrooms. I work with some of the most savvy innovators in public education. And I serve an organization that truly desires to be a true partner to school districts.

Barbara Gilbert

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *