Six weeks ago I left for The Building Learning Communities Conference in Boston. As I left to attend this conference I brought with me a confidence in the excellent learning institution that I am a part of. I brought a sense of pride about our excellent teachers who never stop learning and who are eager for new methods and tools to increase student learning and connection. I brought an appreciation for the building, facilities, and tool rich environment that we get to immerse ourselves and our students in on a daily basis. Lastly, I brought a feeling of personal satisfaction at being able to help lead such an institution.
4 Days in Boston exposed to some amazing thinkers, mind stretching ideas, and passionate practitioners changed my thinking about much of my “luggage.” In order to offer our students more opportunities to connect their learning to in-field experts; to be participatory citizens as opposed to learning about it; to engage, collaborate, and create content for an ever growing global knowledge base, It became clear to me, there were certainly areas for growth and the majority of that started with me.
I came home feeling the weight of responsibility and opportunity.
I created a Blog
One of my greatest aspirations for myself, my teachers, and my students is to be reflective. As such I have tasked myself with blogging twice a week. I have to admit that this feels a bit daunting. At the same time, I think it is essential to set aside time to reflect on our experiences. As all of our perspectives are unique, and therefore the way we experience an experience is specific to our selves, I truly value the ability to reflect and share my own interpretation, and I want to model and encourage my teachers and students to do the same.
The hours of blogging and the many, many hours of setting up, playing with, and changing features of my blog have paid instant dividends. Our kindergarten and Mechina (kindergarten prep) classes all have blogs. And our Mechina students all have blogs of their own. My own time spent working with this tool has better equipped me to make suggestions and assist my team as they too explore these possibilities.
I tweet a lot. I find it to be the tool with the highest density of quality resources, ideas, and people to strengthen my PLN.
I tweet when I have something to share: When there is a topic that I am passionate about (school culture, character education, math education, professional development…etc) and I believe that I may have a resource or an idea that may be of value to another practitioner, I tweet.
I tweet when I have an interest: Just last night I enjoyed a role reversal as I got to play the student on an excellent #5thchat. @flyonthewall, @paulsolarz, and many others shared the inspiring ways they are incorporating genius hour/passion projects in to their classrooms. I enjoyed the role of eager student probing for greater knowledge about philosophy, expectations, and outcomes for the projects.
I tweet in my role as match maker: Attempting to deliver the content that I see across my feed to the people in my school who will best appreciate and best incorporate it is one of the essential roles I feel I now play. A quick tour across the lower and middle school building will show bulletin boards, classroom organizations, and lessons that were generated or inspired by resources that I have been able to push out to specific targeted people.
We tweet for community: All teachers are using grade level hashtags to document and share the excitement of the learning. This enables parents, grandparents, and loved one to share in the joy and feel a part of the journey. Additionally it enables us to connect our students and their work with others in our global community, and potentially with experts, authors, and organizations that will further the learning.
I continue to…
Hopefully the end to this sentence is reflect, learn, and grow. A week after returning from Boston, I concluded one of my first posts about the why and how to get started with twitter with the following:
“Finally, to all new and experienced teachers and collaborators in the pool, I thank you. Thank you for the sharing that you have offered me as I have newly explored the potential of this tool, and thank you for the sharing that you will offer to me and all of my team in the coming weeks, months, and years.”
Still seems right.