Our player is me: Stephanie, a second-year fourth grade teacher and novice player on the teacher-tech stage. I could be any one of the many teachers on a similar journey. I would venture to say that we all experience bouts of stage fright at some point in our careers. It is normal. Expected, even. We ask ourselves the same questions: What do I have to offer that someone else canâ€™t supply? What good will my opinion do? Hasnâ€™t my question been asked countless times before?
In year two, our Digital Learning Collaborative teams look at what theyâ€™ve learned and apply it in their classrooms. Using an inquiry model, we ask the teams to evaluate what impact their use of technology is having on students. But more often than Iâ€™m comfortable with, teams balk at this point in the process. Some of them do not want to do this work. That keeps me up at night.
At the best unconference experiences, contagious leadership abounds. And isnâ€™t this the foundation of every social networking site, every blog, and every wiki? Isnâ€™t this the true definition of collaboration? The sum of the parts is always greater than the individual. Together, we are stronger, smarter, and more creative. Leaders who get this are not only better for it, but can lead others to create communities of excellence.
I am trying to shift my teaching, make inquiry the centerpiece, and have my students be the leaders in their learning. The biggest challenge I face is that my students have no idea how to work together. As teachers we need to steal back the time necessary to make community-building a priority in our classrooms.
I recently blogged about the importance of cultivating a culture where our students are expected to fail sometimes — it’s part of taking risks. We need to do this as teachers too. The first step, of course, is to create a culture of trust and support among teachers, and that’s hard in the midst of high-stakes testing and the publishing of teacher and school rankings. The only way this will happen is if we’re honest.
I’ll go first.
As a teacher-librarian it became obvious to me that systemic change was necessary to enable all our students to benefit from the opportunities created by technology and connectedness. Over the past year, the team I work with has been leading change in our school, working to expand our understandings about 21st century information fluency and help our students grow as digital citizens. A dedicated blogging platform, ePortfolios and information fluency certificates are helping us do that.