Journalist Claudio Sanchez, a National Public Radio education reporter as well as a former middle school teacher, offered a presentation, The Three P’s of Education Reform: Politics, Policy, Pedagogy, at the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) 2013 conference. If you are like me, you turn up the radio every time Sanchez begins a report or a commentary, and I was eager to hear what he had to say about the world of educational reform.
In his presentation he asked whether education in itself — even a really good opportunity – can compensate for the heavy burdens of poverty such as poverty, access to poor health care (or no access), and violence. He wondered how much a school can really do for a child, and by extension, a family, mired in the cycle of poverty, though he looked at the audience and recognized that many schools are working hard to hasten change.
I’ve just returned from the 2013 National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) annual conference, where I presented a workshop with three colleagues, Renee Hawkins, Vinnie Vrotny, and Larry Kahn. In our Thursday afternoon session we shared our ideas about coaching the parents of 21st Century learners to help them understand more about the digital lives of their children.
As I reflect on our wonderfully collaborative NAIS presentation project — coming up with an idea and developing it over time — I now understand that the workshop planning process led me and my colleagues on a substantial journey featuring what I think of as extremely connected professional development.
This workshop’s journey began a year ago at EdCampSeattle, where I shared an idea about the importance of educating 21st Century parents. At my school I work hard at educating parents about their digital kids, so I wanted to learn lots more about what my colleagues do at other schools.
Actually, I initially shared my idea with independent school colleague, Liz Davis, a dedicated EdCamp advocate, and she told me that I just had to attend EdCampSeattle. (Note: Liz is also one of the main people responsible for getting me to start blogging, but that’s another story.)
If you’ve attended EdCamp, you know that participants suggest lots of great ideas, but not everyone becomes part of the program. At the beginning of every EdCamp people walk around the room suggesting and choosing the topics they are most interested in — called the “law of two feet” in “EdCampSpeak.” They go on to experience, a day-long collegial event that they have planned, essentially carrying out their own program — in itself extreme professional development. Expanding this idea, my workshop colleague, Larry Kahn, will shortly experiment with inviting parents to attend an EdCamp along with teachers.
You do not always expect the first workshop, on the first day of a conference to be a slam-dunk, but my 8:00 A.M. Thursday morning session was awesome.
Every bit of information that I collected at the Garrison Forest School workshop on electronic portfolios, presented at the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) annual conference in Philadelphia, will help me start an e-portfolio project at my school. As the four presenters shared their many resources and described their electronic portfolio research, my mind zoomed ahead to my return to school — all this before the end of the first hour of the conference.
I’ve been thinking about helping teachers and students create e-portfolios for some time, but with so many factors to consider and so much to figure out, I’m always a bit stumped when I think about the extensive collaboration that needs to take place. The benefits for teachers, students, and parents are clear, but the process takes an enormous amount of time to plan and carry out, and time is always at a premium. Yet we all know that twenty-first Century learners need to be able to think about, examine, evaluate, and extend their work if they are to be, well — better 21st Century learners. E-portfolios support this learning process.
Interestingly, about two weeks before this conference, two teaching teams that I support indicated – out of the blue — their interest in developing some sort of electronic portfolio project, so I am fortunate to have a small group of educators who want to get started. This workshop has essentially handed me the knowledge as well as a map to lead me.
You are in a good workshop when it’s on a topic that you know well, and you end up learning a whole lot more, and when you feel new knowledge pathways opening up, you say “Wow!” That’s what happened to me on Friday morning at the 2013 National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) annual conference, this year in Philadelphia.
I attended a workshop, “It’s Just Facebook: Ethical Questions in Social Media Use,” and discovered first-hand how much I can still learn about educating children, their parents, and educators when it comes to 21st Century digital citizenship and media literacy problem-solving. What’s especially interesting to me since, just the day before, I presented a workshop with three of my NAIS colleagues on a similar topic.
In their “Ethical Questions” workshop, Kent Place School presenters Kimberly Coelho and Karen Rezach helped us compare moral with ethical dilemmas sharing case studies that are designed to help students examine and address the life challenges that pop up in their 21st Century learning and digital lives.
The two leaders, part of the Ethics Institute at Kent Place, walked us through the discussion process, emphasizing how they include a range of different perspectives. Often right and wrong answers are not so clear because the dilemmas usually present competing values, so the problems are not examined or solved easily.