This is pulled from a blog post in the International cohort and posted here with permission.
I remember Carey Pohanka’s face during the PLP face to face meeting back in September. Her expression said, “what have I gotten into??”
Though the day energized me, I sensed that some (all?) of the team felt overwhelmed. As I asked them to jump into the ning, continue blogging, meet with me monthly, and “just try this” in their classes, I felt their stress. I was having trouble myself balancing my three English classes, my yearbook class using a new online platform, and my volunteer work with the state technology group for independent schools–and keeping up with requests from teachers around the school with tech issues.
But we moved ahead.
We read and talked.
Researched and debated.
Tried the wikis, blogged about successes and failures, put the nings out there.
Skyped and elluminated.
And slowly, our ideas meshed with our practices…and things began to make sense. I think it was December when Carey first said at a team meeting, “This has been life-changing.” Her adventures with blogs, delicious, wikis, skype, and twitter have kept us running to keep up with her. The day she called Canada to participate in a call-in radio show about teaching, I knew she was hooked.
Susanne invited pre-service teachers to share her Othello ning with her own students and has helped us all focus on thoughtful research on her blog; Jennifer was invited to skype into a district meeting in New Jersey as an expert teacher using blogs and wikis (and won an NAIS excellence award for her work, which she continues to share on her class wiki; Deb’s nings for her science classes have the students excited to learn and share; Katie’s Global Challenge for intellectual property rights is getting her students to solve problems with students from two other schools, and her work with wikis has helped the students truly learn to collaborate; Keith learned how to use wikis, revamped his exams to make them presentations, and has been the voice of reason in all of our discussions.
Truly, this is a small sampling of what our team has been up to. I didn’t even mention the student-created videos, the improved presentation skills, the delicious and diigo research, google docs collaboration, and more.
Last week I presented our work to the Parents Association. You know when you can feel the audience with you? As I shared screen shots of the work our team has been doing, the energy was palpable. The parents smiled and asked questions…and our Head of School wrote me later to say thank you.I was proud. Proud of the work, the effort, the focus our team has had this year as we have all explored new ways to engage our kids. They’ve reached out to others on our faculty who are stepping up, too. The naysayers seem to be quieting, and the administrative team is getting behind us. Our end-of-year project won’t be flashy, but it will be meaningful and will be the result of hard work, research, and ongoing discussions about how we can best serve our school, our teachers, and our students.
Margaret Meade says it best:
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
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During a 25-year education career, Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach has been a classroom teacher, technology coach, charter school principal, district administrator, university instructor and digital learning consultant. Sheryl is the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Powerful Learning Practice, where she works with schools and districts from around the world to re-envision their learning cultures and communities through the Connected Learner Experience and other e-learning opportunities. She is the author (with Lani Ritter Hall) of The Connected Educator: Learning and Leading in a Digital Age (Solution Tree, 2012) and serves on the ISTE Board of Directors.