Sometimes the “ah-ha” moment for Powerful Learning Practice team members comes at the same time. For one of the Eastern Lebanon School District team, headed by Judy Uhrich, the moment came when they discussed how useless the old newsletter model was for communication.

“The tech coordinator who was also the Fellow of the team said, ‘There’s got to be a better way,’ said Judy, who has served as the Technology and Learning Coordinator for 18 years. “We all looked at each other and said, ‘We know what we’re doing for our Action Research Project!'”

The team had struggled early on, Judy said, to find a focus. Like many PLPeeps, they often felt they were sailing without wind or rudder to guide them. Of course, that’s the PLP plan, isn’t it?We ask people to muddle around in groups and the larger community, learning how to learn.

“Teachers are used to graduate courses, so predictable,” she said. ” This was antithesis of that.” But the team persevered, and as the idea began to take shape, so did their enthusiasm.”Once we started and got focused, we worked like a well-oiled machine,” Judy said. “It amazed me.”

The plan was to create a wiki for a pilot project, where each teacher would contribute daily plans and links to projects. The team struggled initially with ideas coming in from all sides, even parents who had been invited to participate. But that collective wisdom finally worked, and the team was able to coordinate and put into practice a new vision of what communication could be. The team presented the ideas to the School Board successfully.

One shift Judy is pleased to see is how team members have gone from waiting to be told what to do to taking responsibility themselves. “They don’t see me or defer to me as the Team Leader anymore,” said Judy, “and that’s great.”With no clear leader and much collective wisdom, the team plans to roll this out to the faculty next week so they can work on it over the summer.

Teachers who had not thought much about using technology are now saying, “you mean I can have a wiki myself?” Judy said.Getting the parents involved, too, was “awesome,” she added.

A benefit the team didn’t recognize until later was the paper savings and also how easy it is to update.”When you have this, you don’t have to wait to send information home on Friday. There’s more information going home, too. “They realized they had been sending home reams and reams of paper because of date and location changes of events, and now that won’t be necessary.”

“Even the kids were impressed with how much paper we saved,” she said.

And for the team? Next ah-ha moment is coming soon, she said. Look out social media.

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Susan Carter Morgan

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