Collaborating with colleagues from beyond our school walls helps us become stronger, better, and more innovative educators. As Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote, “Many ideas grow better when transplanted into another mind…” To that I would add, “minds from other places.”
I am attending the 2015 International Society for Technology Educators(ISTE) annual conference where it’s a bit of a zoo — a crazy, good, really busy, intellectually stimulating zoo — with people to meet, activities to learn about, lectures to hear, things to play with, information to process, and much more. Collaboration is in the air.
After serving at a school for 33 years, more than 25 or them as an educational technology faculty member, I am departing in a few weeks and moving on to new experiences. This year I’ve had plenty of time to think about my service on an edtech faculty team, ruminating on my rich experiences. I’ve helped teachers and students use technology in ways that help them grow into more effective and reflective learners, though in truth, I’ve probably learned far more than I’ve helped others learn.
While I will miss the daily joys and the challenges of 21st Century school life, I expect to continue supporting people — students, parents, family, friends, and anyone else — as they discover more about living and learning in a digital world with social media, apps, the latest devices, and whatever else that appears on the edtech horizon. Of course, I’ll keep blogging right here at MediaTechParenting.net.
So below are 25 observations (lessons learned) that grow out of my 25 years of teaching and learning with educational technology.
1. The curriculum and student learning are at the core of our work. The mission is to figure out how to help teachers learn new skills so they can help students learn more effectively and productively.
2. Collaborating with teachers on new technology projects in their classrooms is essential and best way to help them learn. Communicating with those teachers is paramount.
3. We need administrators to evaluate faculty members regularly, assessing how teachers infuse technology into the curriculum and how these teachers expand their skills over time.
We educators offer great gifts to our 21st Century students when we demonstrate that we, too, can learn new things. By letting children see us mastering unfamiliar information, figuring out problems, overcoming challenges, and yes, even making mistakes, we help them develop more comfort and confidence when they make errors and feel like they are not making progress. We adults teach all the time, but we probably don’t model learning new material nearly enough, and the kids notice it.
As Ted Sizer wrote in his book, The Children Are Watching, they notice what we do and what we do not do. (A good book, by the way, for teachers and parents to read).
So this year I’m demonstrating how much I have to learn for students in grades one through five who attend my MIT Scratch coding activity. Literally, they are watching me learn how to code Scratch scripts.
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.