When Philly administrator Ed Allen mentioned that teaching his music class was “joyful,” I knew he was a PLPeep I wanted to know more about.
Ed has been teaching since 1984, all of it in the Philadelphia Archdiocese. He is currently an assistant principal at Cardinal O’Hara, and he is in his third year of Powerful Learning Practice.
“I remember that first day in PLP like it was some kind of wonderful anniversary, and it was,” he said. “I signed up for Twitter and NING, and I didn’t have any idea what would happen.”

Finding His Way

But then, he said, he found he was so comfortable in the collaborative aspects of NING, suddenly he was hooked.
“Truth is, back then I was a social media phob,” he said. “I remember saying, ‘You can’t have 600 friends.’ And now I look on Twitter and see I do!”
Ed remembers the powerful feeling of being connected when people started to follow him back on Twitter.
“I realized this really works. And when someone responded to my tweets who I didn’t know, and answered my question…I just went- wow.”

Collaboration and Connecting

Learning to collaborate with PLP changed him, he said. “It changed the way I look at learning, changes what I see and look for, and it changes the conversations I have with teachers one on one.”
One way Ed has helped scale his own learning to his school was a professional day set up to enable teachers to talk about shifts in pedagogy.
“We stole the name from Educon,” he said,laughing, “calling it O’Haracon 2.0!” SLA teacher Diana Laufenberg gave the keynote, and teachers were able to hear first-hand what these changes mean to the classroom.
The school is also piloting a netbook program successfully this year.
He said recently he heard a teacher in the hall talking to someone else about technology.
“This was not a teacher who I would have pegged to talk about Google docs. And when the conversation ended, I yelled out, “you rock!”
And that’s when he realized, “something has happened, something has changed.”

Be the  Model

Ed agrees that helping teachers can sometimes be a challenge.
“You can’t mandate it, though. You must help people see the value. You must model it. Any school leader must do that,” he said.
Ed models great teaching and learning on a daily basis, loving his work and helping his teachers find joy in their work as well.
“I believe in sustained professional development so much,” he said. “It drove my wife crazy at first because it was all I talked about. Now she’s a PLP Fellow herself. She completely gets it.”
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Susan Carter Morgan

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