Edu chit chat at ground level

We kicked today off with a lovely brunch hosted by very close friends – a perfect way to start the day! Many of the people in attendance are connected to the education scene in one way or another. Collectively we covered the range of parents, secondary teachers and department heads, vice principal, recently retired principal, university profs, soon to be teachers and me.

Of course, there was a healthy round of catching up on what is happening with the various families, plans for the festive season and, teachers being teachers, some ‘shop talk’ about what everyone was doing. So …. when it was my turn, I dived into the Ontario PLP experience I was enjoying and chatted about the potential powerful uses of social media tools in our system. Well, talk about start a multi dimensional conversation. I think we could have had a 2 day symposium with the brunch gang to explore the pros and cons all of the various options.

As a group, we represented decades of solid teaching experience. As a group, we represented an extremely diverse experiences in the areas of using, adopting (and embedding) technology in the way we teach, work and live.  We hit the whole range (minimum to maximum) of personal comfort levels, willingness to embrace new technologies, student engagement, the powerful potential of the tools available today and how the use of these tools would/could impact education in positive ways — a fascinating discussion to say the least.

We did cover one last point, and I saved it to last so it could stand on its own for emphasis — and it really struck a chord with me. The general consensus was that the typical teacher of today is not ready to embrace social media tools at this point in time for a number of reasons. At ‘ground level’

  • only a small percentage actually use social media tools
  • most teachers are not comfortable with the tools themselves, let alone embrace them in teaching
  • most teachers have not thought about embracing the power of social media in useful ways to support curriculum delivery
  • many teachers are not sure about the level of engagement the use of these tools may bring
  • some are curious about this ‘new world’

So, in yet another setting, we end up back at some of my favourite pondering points:

  • building communities and cultures of sharing
  • getting more teachers involved
  • etc., you can read my ‘list’ in an earlier blog post from this week

The important aspect of arriving at my favourite pondering points (again) is that I really trust the observations, opinions and insights that this group has about where things are at ‘in the field’. In some ways, this conversation was a reality check. Is the gap getting wider? In general, are we ‘preaching to the choir’?  More thinking and planning about systemic change, impacting the educational front etc. In some ways this is a nice lead into Will Richardson’s question, “what changed in 2009?”  Watch for an upcoming blog post where I will share my views on what changed.

~ Mark

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