I had such selfish reasons for choosing to do this workshop at Franklin Lakes School District today; not only was it a great opportunity to talk about some really fun topics and make some extra money, but Alan November was the keynote. Alan’s message conveys a sense of urgency like no one else I have ever seen, and I always leave feeling recharged.
Today’s presentation by Alan centered on student content creation, much like the last one I saw, but this was the first time I was able to see him interact directly with a small group. His ideas, juxtaposed against the usual smattering of teacher doubts, really resonate with “no excuses.” Counterpoints to every dissension. Creation in the face of doubt.
When I think of my own practice, I wonder if I am doing enough creating of community. Darren Draper posted about bloggers who create community, but focused on the online environment. How do I do it in my buildings? Alan talks about allowing students to create material that is public, debatable and viewable by people from a global environment. I was twittering about the amount of teachers in a room here that do not have Google Accounts, or how few of them have heard of RSS feeds, and wondering to myself whether or not I could say the same for my district where I had worked on this for almost two years. What have I done to create the sense of urgency that Alan does?
This is perfect fodder for thought as I enter the week before EduCon, and I hope I’ll be able to gather some resources for this there.
Looking back over the course of the time I have spent at Tech Coordinator and now as Director of Curriculum, I don’t think formal professional development worked to the extent that I expected it would. I taught classes which were not well attended, or attended by the same group of people. I held in-service days where teachers were exposed to applications and strategies to help them implement social technologies in the classroom. But where did it get us? Sitting here, listening to Alan push these teachers, a very receptive bunch no less, I can’t help but place myself in a daydream where this is my district. How many of my teachers would know what RSS means? How many would have a Google Account? Did I make a difference, or did I just keep the same model that has not worked and made it look nicer?
I am feeling the need to break the mold, to present a shift so sudden yet so necessary that teachers would look at it with both fear and longing–saying “I want to do this for my own development!” or “This has to happen!” But what it looks like is escaping me. How do you make someone feel like they need something?