By Clarence Fisher

It takes time in the beginning to find your footing. No matter what you are learning, when we try something new, we are often unsure of ourselves and the skills and knowledge that we have. We can be learning to swim or learning a new language, at the beginning, we are all self conscious.

This is why I have been so encouraged lately with the developments coming out of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia cohort.

Gene Carboni and Jim Greene, a team leader and a plp fellow from Father Judge Highschool recently ran an inservice for their school:

“(We) introduced Web 2.0 and the creation of a PLN to the faculty and staff today. We prepared our presentation using the following tools: Google Notebook, Teacher Tube, and Slideshare. As previously mentioned we had already created a wiki for the school To date 31 members of the faculty are members. I introduced the concept of creating a PLN and the workings of a community member. Jim Greene did a presentation on Web 2.0 tools. Jim used “Wikis in Plain English” from Teacher Tube to open his segment. After the clip he showed the staff how to join our wiki. He followed that with a few slides on the ease of editing the wiki. He also showed the faculty slides on Google Reader and Google Notebook.”

A full day to say the least.

While a large portion of this day was spent working on tools with staff; introducing people to some of their options and taking the first steps to making them comfortable, these gentlemen were also sure to make sure they offered their staff members ongoing support:

“In March we will start a series of follow-up sessions to assist the faculty with building their network. We will be using the wiki to help the faculty create their Twitter accounts and get them to add people to their PLN.”

These are solid steps. Beginning with getting people comfortable and then moving past that into providing them with ongoing support and helping them to build their own professional networks.

Mary Harkins and Eileen Goldsmith from Archbishop Wood have been up to similar things in their building:

“(Eileen) showed a number of web 2.0 tools she has been using and how they can be used in the various disciplines. It was a beginners type of presentation. She talked about the fact that about 6 weeks ago she knew very little. What she has had her students do is amazing. She showed a number of interactive web sites and tools. Then we all went to the lab and joined the Wood ning. What a great experience.”

and the results?

“Collaboration was the name of the game. We have a number of groups, by department and by year taught. We also are trying to come up with a policy on cheating via the ning. It has been a great experience. Thanks to our learning in the cohort we did this all in house and the responses from the faculty are that it was the best staff development ever and I agree.”

“I think the biggest takeaway was “I can do this!” People were not afraid and saw all the opportunities. We are in the midst of Middle States Self Study and a wiki has already been set up to work on Middle States. This would not have happened last week.”

These are two more examples of the growth we have seen in our cohort this year. The ability to take charge of your own learning and gain the confidence to share what you know with others, becoming leaders with knowledge of your own is a sign of great growth.

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Clarence Fisher

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