I have been debating about writing this blog post for a while. Yesterday I shared this story with @snbeach while chatting at the PLP Booth. Today, I was sitting in an ISTE workshop listening to @web20classroom (Steven W. Anderson) talk about ISTE standards and school administrators and I heard it again. With this synchronicity, I am taking these situations as signs to write and publish the post.
The ‘it‘ I referred to was the phrase “you guys are not normal” — and now for some context.
Several weeks ago I attended a Saturday breakfast gathering with a few of our high school teacher technology leaders. Surprisingly, we talked about, well, you know, technology and a passion for transforming teaching to improve how students learn. This particular morning, the discussion focused around Google Docs, publishing, benefits of developing online texts and resources for students — 24/7 access, one stop ‘shopping’, one stop editing, no old handouts floating around, no lost papers ….. well, you get the picture. Why wouldn’t you do this? Needless to say this was a passionate discussion that stayed with me.
Later that same day I was driving in the car with my wife and she asked the magic question: So what did you talk about at breakfast? I happily recounted the story, trying to maintain the same passion level as the morning discussion. She listened intently, and then at the close of my story commented that “you guys are not normal”. WHAT????? OK, maybe I (and likely others) are not normal. I will ‘wear the T-Shirt’ but asked that the comment be justified – you know, a few bullets under the title to qualify the comment.
Here are the bullets:
- you (meaning us not normal types) are self sufficient
- you don’t panic if something related to technology use does not work properly, even in front of a class or audience
- you know how to problem solve
- if you can’t figure it out as fast as you think you should, you have a network of people to help you
- it is your passion, not everyone wants to invest like this
I thought these were good points — and really, the same context of the ISTE workshop comment. In reflection, this conversation made me think of a few important things related to moving the educational change agenda along.
- everyone can learn how to use technology better
- everyone can become a self sufficient user of technology
- personal learning networks (PLNs) ARE important
- we need to be mindful of the best entry point for using technology, and starting the learning curve of independence.
- the learning is on a continuum
- supporting people means thinking about gradual release of responsibility
- empowering people is important
Now, if these ‘everyones’ and ‘we’s’ are teachers and tech support/coaches/trainers, then I think these points are all worthy of consideration as we continue to move the agenda forward. Food for thought for sure.
What does this mean for your PD planning? How will you be more thoughtful about supporting people in their use of technology? How will you help them become more independent?
Please share your comments and stories.
Doug —- Off the Rectord