#44 – Insights From a Small, Rural District With Natasha Monsaas-Daly

Unpacking Education June 16, 2021 24 min

Welcome back to Teacher Insights at Tech Talk For Teachers. Over the next two weeks, our series will focus on insights from educational leaders. With this series, we explore what has happened in virtual, face-to-face, and hybrid classrooms across the country this year—what has worked and what challenges we have grown from.

This week, we meet with Natasha Monsaas-Daly, Director of Information and Learning Technology for Watertown-Mayer Schools—a small, rural district in Minnesota. Natasha’s work focuses on integrating rigorous and authentic instruction, with quality technology tools. She is also one of the hosts of Black & Blonde—a podcast dedicated to conversations around race, as they are experienced by a Black person and a White person.

Join our Digital Learning Specialists as they talk with Natasha to learn how she and her team have navigated this unique and challenging school year to create equitable experiences for students across her district. She discusses the power of hybrid and remote learning and how these options will continue in the future, challenging us to find solutions for making technology a sustainable option in the years to come. She also shares stories that highlight how empathy and understanding contributed to her district’s success in meeting the needs of both students and their families.

Paul Beckermann
PreK-12 Digital Learning Specialist
Rena Clark
Digital Learning Coach
Pamela Beckermann
PreK-12 Digital Learning Specialist

Turn your wounds into wisdom.

Oprah Winfrey, American talk show host, actress, and author

Conversations About the Challenges, Successes, and Unsung Heroes

In today’s episode, we explore how teachers, students, and leaders in Watertown-Mayer Schools worked together to create equitable and accessible learning experiences during the pandemic. At the core, these stakeholders worked together to create a consistent experience that optimized the use of technology to meet students’ learning needs.

District Leader Insights

Over the course of the pandemic, data has shed light on the level of variation in districts’ approaches to schooling. Some have provided fully remote learning from the outset of the pandemic, while others have mostly provided in-person learning, with a cross section that has fallen somewhere in between. Today, we explore the story of a small, rural district through the lens of its Director of Information and Learning Technology, Natasha Monsaas-Daly. She shares her insights on the topics and questions below.

Challenges and Successes

  1. This has been a unique and challenging school year. As a tech leader in a smaller, rural school district, could you talk about some of the challenges you faced to provide equitable and accessible education to your students?
  2. What have been some of your successes this year?
  3. Can you share any examples of where adversity led to success this year?
  4. What role did technology play in making this year a success?

Unsung Heroes

  1. As Director of Information and Learning Technology for Watertown-Mayer Schools, I’m sure you have a broad perspective of many moving parts in a school district that many people never see. Who are some of the unsung heroes of the past year? Who has done important work that may have gone less noticed?
  2. In what ways has it taken a team effort to make this a successful school year?
  3. What is some of the work that has been necessary this year but often unnoticed?
  4. Is there anyone in particular you’d like to give a shout-out to in regard to their work during the past school year?

Lessons Learned

  1. What lessons have you and school leadership learned from this school year?
  2. What innovations have evolved from the challenges of this school year? What has worked well that you will continue in the future?
  3. What role did equity play in decision-making during this past year?