Personal Learning Communities, School-wide Communities of Practice, Professional Learning Communities, these are all concepts I’ve been tossing around in my head lately. We are attempting to begin our own PLC here, meeting during lunch on Thursdays and Fridays. The benefits are tremendous. And, if we use the tools available, we expand our school PLC to a global PLC. No longer are we working in isolation. In an instant, we can put our hands on research, tools, anecdotes to support whatever we are working on. Here’s an example, I was thinking of how to talk to our students about their "online presence." We are a laptop school and attempting to embed (not integrate!) technology into our classes. A few minutes ago, a Twitter popped up from Jeff Utecht on a presentation he did for his students. Perfect! Then, Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach posted about school-wide community learning related to 21st century skills and this great quote from the Journal of School Improvement:
"That means a new role for teachers. Great teachers will not only
serve as subject matter specialists but will also become partners
with students, helping them learn how to turn information into usable
; knowledge and knowledge into wisdom. Rather than simply dispensing
information, 21st century teachers will become orchestrators and
facilitators of learning" (Marx, 2002).
Some days we get weighed down by the technology that fails, the students that seem overwhelmed and unwilling to try new things, or the teachers who are stressed by not having enough hours in the day to consider other ways of teaching. Then there are days like this when I find this about leading and learning, or this on turning fear into goals. And get this from a colleague, who is letting me work with her students in spite of the tech issues we are having:
This is all a learning process……..
and isn’t that what school is all about! I’ll stop by your upper
school chair tomorrow morning to catch up.
Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. Because we are so limited by time constraints at my school, I decided to invite teachers to "conversations" every Thursday and Friday during lunch. I envisioned a time to discuss broad topics such as: how do we learn? what role does technology play? what can we do to prepare our students for the future? Thursday’s group seemed to go well. Because the network was down, I couldn’t show the video I wanted. Instead, we chatted about middle-schoolers who can’t seem to focus for more than 5 minutes. On Friday, I had prepared an article and the network was back up, so I wanted to show the video, too. Instead of leading into the discussion, I tried to force a discussion about the article,which no one had had time to read. And then, I played the vid (Michael Wesch’s latest). With barely 3 minutes, left, I tried to get feedback. Arrrgghhh. Why do I feel the need to control? I want this to be a relaxing time, a few moments in the day for teachers to just talk, share ideas, learn something new. Thanks to my friend Jennifer, who reminded me of my original intent for the group, I realized what had happened. We’ll start again next week.
Last night we had Anastasia Goodstein, author of Totally Wired, What Your Teens and Tweens are Really Doing Online, speak at our school. Her message was right on target, and we loved hearing her validate what we have been saying to our parents and teachers. However, it was raining–for the first time in what, months? I suppose everyone decided to stay home, as we had fewer than 25 (including administrators and teachers) in the audience. Too bad. They missed a good session. At the last minute, I realized I could try to capture her speech using Ustream, so I plugged in the webcam minutes before she started, and clicked Go Live. Well, I thought I was. But I wasn’t. I’m not sure what I did, but nothing recorded, unfortunately. I shouldn’t try to wing these things! Next time, I"ll be more prepared. And next time, I hope we have a better turnout.
Somehow David Warlick always manages to say what is in my brain. Before I can even begin to articulate it, he’s blogging about it.
So, I think that if we can simplify the question of staff development
by saying that, “It’s part of the job of the teacher to continue to
grow,” then we can get on with the far more interesting question, “What
does the school and classroom look like where learning is what you see happening, not teaching — where learning stops being a job, and, instead, becomes a lifestyle.”
After reading Kim’s blog about watching the K12 Online presentations with her colleagues, I was inspired. I want to talk about the ideas, roll them around in my head, hear what others have to say. How about it? After school? During lunch? I’ll bring snacks:) Let’s begin here: More than cool tools K12-Online