Which one of you will be my teacher today?

Inasmuch as time hides changes in its gradual flow, slight movements in our philosophies can sometimes go unnoticed, and can surprise us when we are faced with a familiar decision that now has a new outcome.

Listening to Will Richardson yesterday had me spinning in so many great directions. One of the most crystallizing moments happened very early on in the meeting when Will showed us that Christian Long, who was also in the audience, had already blogged about what we were talking about. Christian had noted something that Will said:

“Everyone that comes to my blog is a potential teacher of mine.”

This statement had, up until that point, been an elusive idea for me as I began to blog and to post comments on other people’s blogs. What was it that I was doing? I knew that I wanted dialogue and communication, feedback and even a little controversy. Putting these actions that I was making into the context of teacher/learner shed some light on the relationship between these 2.0 concepts and how they relate to my schools and schools everywhere.

My limited time in education has shown me a few things that work and several things that don’t when it comes to student learning. The most cogent so far is the need for students to connect their thinking, their work, their own meaning, to other people and ideas outside of the classroom. At Smith School, we were always expected to ask our students to show us connections between the subjects at hand and the outside world. This is what blogging has become for me over the last few months, and this is what Will was talking about when he made that statement.

Here is the essential process that I garnered from our discussion yesterday:

  1. Read: the need to seek out quality information will never disappear. Once I find it, I’ll use it.
  2. Think/Synthesize: reflection on what we are consuming as text: photos, videos, text, multimedia. Where does it belong in my network?
  3. Write: put it out there for your community, the world, and let the dialogue begin.
  4. Process: what has happened to your ideas? Do you need to reassess?
  5. Write: respond and defend, acquiesce, merge.

I learn because I pursue information. The tools made available to me by read/write technology don’t insure that I will learn, just as syllabi and extensive reading lists never did. We make choices about our learning as we go through school, and not just about what courses we will take. We choose to retain certain pieces of information more than others; we choose to use certain research over others for our writing. Why?

Because we have learned to be editors of information. The flow of information is now slightly overwhelming, and the ability for us to gain access to it blows me away. The tools are only half the game though. The choices about what we let past our filter determine the depths to which we learn. What is quality, what is not? The days of choosing the top three entries on a Google search (one of my least favorite student habits) need to be altered.

What School 2.0 is to me right now is about creating networks, about placing our schools into those networks where they can become part of their own communities. I want the world to see what we do, so that in turn, we can use that world as part of our network.

We’ll see how it goes.

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