The only problem is that there's so much going on inside my head that I don' t know what to write about first! So, we'll just start...
Had the great privilege of taking our entire faculty to METC this year. With a tight budget, the LEA Convocation was a little too expensive for us (not conference itself, but the travel, lodging and all that stuff). So the next best thing? Take them all to a technology conference. METC was a wonderul compliment to our technology focus this year...and it was "easy on the eyes," in terms or our budget!
The great thing for me was that our staff finally got a chance to see first hand what kind of "crazy-foolishness" I've been filling my mind with, and trying to sell them, these past four years! I kept telling them, "Just keep drinking the Kool-Aid."
No really, it was a great experience. I have a hunch, that many of our staff were really forced to consider their own teaching practice for the first time in a while. We also tried to impress upon them that a lot of educational reform is coming out of the ed tech community. Technology tools enable teachers to easily create a classroom environment where learning is diffferentiated, collaborative, connected--nationally and internationally, and interactive. The ed tech community is forcing teachers to return to student focused teaching. My gut-feeling is (only because I know from experience) that many Lutheran school teachers rely way too heavily on textbooks to define curriculum. Technology tools are helping redefine what curriculum is and also redefining what it means to be an effective teacher. Curriculum isn't as much about content knowledge as it is literacy skills (a topic for a different post).
Teachers are comfortable with knowing that they are the only person in the room with all the knowledge, and it's their job to "impart" that to students (What Dave Warlick aptly labels as the "gravity method." Knowledge flows from the top down). Image taken from Dave Warlick's presentation slides (slide23) on the "Flat Classroom" Wiki
Many teachers aren't comfortable not being the expert in the classroom.
Will Richardson blogged about some students who wanted to help repair the wing of a monach butterfly they had found only to be told by their teacher that it COULDN'T be done. Not missing a beat the kids said that it could indeed be done and pointed the teacher to a YouTube video showing him how!
Will does not go on to tell the reaction of the teacher AFTER watching the video, but you can imagine the excuses given about why he wasn't the expert on that one. What makes you as a teacher the expert in the classroom? Is it content? Why are you valued as a teacher? Are you valued because of the amount of content knowledge you have? Are you valued for your ability to lead, manage, mentor, and facilitate? Are you valued for your inventiveness? Creativity? Willingness to take risks?
Check out this digital story from Marco Torres' Cine De La Gente site about what one NY school looks for in great teachers. What suprises you the most about what adjectives are used to describe great teachers? Do those words fit the bill of your staff?