On a lazy and chilly Sunday morning in November, I have finally decided to join the pack of educators who are blogging in cyberspace. Although I read quite a few educator blogs, I have never written one myself. Today, I have decided to lead or get out of the way. Being a former secondary English teacher, I am a writer at heart and a lover of reading. Blogging seems the next natural step for me and I have been considering it for quite some time, but have been a bit nervous about putting myself out there. I am very opinionated and passionate about this all important profession and I have surrounded myself with like-minded people both in person and in cyberspace. I take the time to network with people who are also dedicated to and passionate about children, teaching, and learning. Thanks to Twitter, my network keeps growing. If you don't know about the power of Twitter, let me tell you that it is a fantastic resource that allows you to follow other educators and receive almost constant links to other important and very cool resources, but you have to follow the right people in order to have it be such a powerful resource for you. I am thankful for all of my Twitter friends.
Over the course of the weekend, I have read blogs on formative assessments, blogs encouraging others to blog, blogs on Sarah Palin and her wardrobe controversy, blogs on Barack Obama being a leader who is using web 2.0 tools, and blogs on collecting classroom assessment data and what to do with it once it's collected. I believe in the power of blogging both for personal growth and for classroom use. However, I am sad that too many teachers are afraid to use such classroom resources. It's hard to take that risk and try something new, but there's something about the uncertainty of technology that really scares the pants off of some teachers. There are so many web 2.0 tools out there that are not being used fully by those in education and, being in my current position of Director of Curriculum and Instruction, I completely understand that it is in my power to provide training for teachers so that these tools can be used to engage kids today. Considering that kids are native digital learners and adults are not, and thanks to a Twitter post by a friend, I have been thinking a lot about using kids to facilitate some of that professional development training. After all, who do we turn to in our classrooms when technology fails us? Kids.
Think about what this would mean in the scheme of developing a true professional learning community in your school...teachers, students, and school leaders teaching and learning together could develop into something really powerful for all of us. Imagine empowering students to teach their teachers what they are capable of in a web 2.0 world. Imagine students truly taking ownership of their own learning and imagine how they could create their own ideas for differentiating by process, choice, and product. Engaging and motivating students would no longer be such an obstacle, especially in secondary schools. Keeping up with the fast-paced world of changing technology is and would continue to be an obstacle though. However, I like that this latter obstacle also has potential to create life-long learners out of all us.
This is the challenge I am facing. I must find ways to inspire teachers to let go of their "old school" ways and walk with their students into the 21st Century. It's not easy to let go of how you've "always done it;" I know that. But I believe that if we allow students to show us what they are truly capable of in this day and age, teachers may begin to see the potential that's out there awaiting them. This I know: every time I have allowed students to take an idea and run with it on their own, in their own way, they have surprised me every time with what they are capable of.
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