When I was job hunting the year before last I had a few schools who used children to interview me as part of the interview process. This was usually either the school council or the year 6 heads of house asking a prearranged set of questions. This time when it came to the Digital Leader applicants I wanted the children to have much more free reign interviewing their peers.
After much begging I decided to open up the applications for Digital Leaders once more. This in itself caused a dilemma as I already have 17 Digital Leaders and don’t especially need any more right now. Equally however I want as many eager volunteers as possible to have the experience of being a Digital Leader. One option was that I get new ones each half term, in this case though I felt that it would be punishing those who had been dedicated for the last term to get rid of them and get new children. My final decision was to select 5 – 10 children out of those who have applied. Interestingly, in September my Digital Leader project had 19 applications (all of whom I gave places to). Now out of the 62 children in year 5, 37 of them have applied to be Digital Leaders.
Before making the decision to reopen applications I spoke to my existing Digital Leaders about whether they were ok with it. Their concerns were mostly that they wanted to get more credit for the fact that they had been working longer and that they wanted it to be special so not ‘everyone’ could join. We discussed how best to check the people chosen were the right ones for the job and they added in some extra questions to the application form. They also agreed to come along to the session where children were applying to chat to them about their answers and make notes on who they thought was responding well to challenge or teamwork.
During the session the children filled in the application form online and then tried to create a Prezi about our school when they were finished. It was fascinating to watch some of the Digital Leaders questioning the others. Some were offering scenarios ‘what if your friends are all playing football at lunchtime and it’s a Digital Leaders day?’ and then following it up with ‘Have you given up our time in any other way to show you’re committed?’ Others found the task of talking to their peers more challenging and merely watched taking notes of who offered to help someone else if they were stuck. At the end of the session I gave the existing Digital Leaders a chance to discuss and make notes ready to review the applications at our meeting the following week.
Ready for our meeting I took the names and classes off of the applications and replaced them with numbers. I then printed out copies for the Digital Leaders to read in groups of 2 or 3 and discuss. The discussions and input they had on the applications I found fascinating. They were carefully reading the questions and analysing pros and cons, comparing with the other applicants. After a while we came together and, using the numbers, discussed the applications.
For the question ‘Why do you want to become a digital leader?’ One applicant said:
‘i would love to become a digital leader because i have all of the greatist gismoes around such as an i pad, an i pod, a phone aq laptop and a tv. if somthing happens to the gadgets im sure to help!’
The Digital Leaders felt that this was more like showing off than actual helping and stated that even if they owned all those things it didn’t meant that were good at using them or could share that learning with someone else. Compared to:
‘I want to become a digital leader because I am good at technology and helping people. I work well in groups and I am good at laptops and making : ) ‘ s. My dad is good at technology and computers as well, and that effects me as well because he teaches me things. ‘
For the question ‘Can you give an example of something you have been responsible for in or out of school?’
‘I’ll never break promises.’
The Digital Leaders did not like this as there were no examples and they said that it sounded like something you would say because you thought that’s what the readers would like to hear. This on the other hand, really impressed them:
‘Everday i look out for peple who are lony and hert.’
They did not use the word ‘conscientious’ but that pretty much sums up their definition of why they really liked this answer.
At the end of our meeting I had a red, orange, green coding for most of the applicants and now I need to select the final members. I still think it’s an impossible job and really hope that I don’t dishearten those who don’t have a place but unfortunately I just don’t have the time and resources to spend training 40-50 children.
The new Digital Leaders are going to be the first guinea pigs for the old Digital Leaders teaching styles. Trying to enable them to explain and question rather than grabbing the mouse and showing them as well as having patience if it takes someone a while to do something. I’ll let you know how they get on with that another time! Watch this space.