Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Technology Didn't Make the List

by Sean Wheeler

 f/m CC Licensed by

In an all-day district meeting, I heard plenty about "roll-outs", action plans, and "The 5 Step Process".  Luckily, an academic coach next to me had reached the absolute limit of her attention span exactly when I did.  Mid-presentation, she turned to me and asked, "If there were three things that you'd say were the most important things to the work your group is doing in the classroom, what would they be?"  I didn't miss a beat.

1.  "We learn."

The teachers I work with think deeply about our need to model learning for our students.  We share links, discuss what's working, and all subscribe to a wide-variety of blogs and twitter feeds.  Our PLN expands all the time, and our students can clearly see that we are learning all the time.

2.  "We collaborate."

Our LHS 2.0 group 's collaborative model starts with the teachers.  We watch each other teach, jump in on each other's lessons, and work together to help our students regardless of content.  We co-design projects.  And we talk, all the time, about how we can work together better.

3. "We're patient."

Sometimes learning something takes awhile.  It takes some failure, some frustration, before ideas and skills start to set in.  Our natural inclination as teachers is to press for time, to move on because we're falling behind our pacing guide, or because we have to give a common assessment in two weeks and we can't afford to wait around for kids to actually learn the content.  The teachers I'm working with are learning to be patient.  We're not there yet, but we wouldn't be where we are without it.  Real learning takes time.

Of course, that isn't exactly what I said, but it was something like that.  The state "improvement coach" rolled on with his presentation.  "The Common Core = Rigor", or something to that effect.  The woman next to me leaned in and whispered, "But... technology wasn't on your list.  Why not?"

I'd like to say that I told her that technology wasn't the house but the hammer.  I would have loved to have asked her what her three things were.  It would have been worthwhile to go back and forth about the role of technology in the work that we do.  But none of that happened.  Just as she asked her question, the improvement coach broke us into "leadership teams" to make SMART goals.

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