To clarify, you need to understand that I am fortunate to attend quite a few conferences each year physically and also take opportunity OFTEN to attend virtually as well…..so, I have had the opportunity to hear a great many people talk about many opportunities in the classroom. And as well, I have participated in many back-channels of sessions (this is when a chat room is available so you can chat as the session is going on) so I also get to hear what others are saying.
Which means, I get to hear a lot of people say a lot of thoughts about a lot things.
Because of this, I could either freak out as I try to listen to everyone and try to agree with everything they feel is important and what they feel should be dismissed or not used in a classroom…………
Or, I could learn to sift through what they are saying and visualize their ideas through the glasses of my own campus and then use or disregard as necessary.
For instance, Interactive White Boards (aka IWB.)
Big topic – A LOT OF CONVERSATIONS on both sides of PROS and CONS talked about by people of which I have great respect.
So I have to take what they say, remember that they are coming from their point of view, their understanding, their use, their backgrounds, their prejudices (or not), and then I need to reconcile this to my own campus.
Well, we have purchased 3 this year (all in High School Science).
2 teachers have totally transformed their teaching. They are more animated, they are spending more time getting prepared for class, they (both students and teachers seem happier), and the students are enjoying class more. I cannot justify that test scores have improved nor have they had an educationally impact, that is still to be seen. Right now, I can only share what I have observed so far. The other white board, well, that teacher is still getting acquainted with the board and seldom uses it.
Therefore, my verdict on IWB is still undecided. We will be purchasing one for the Elementary Computer Lab in a few weeks and then I can add a bit more understanding to what I feel about IWB.
Thus, when I listen to someone start lamenting on the ineffectiveness of IWB or someone sing the glories….I take what they are saying and filter it within my own school campus.
Another example would be an Upper Grade session leader sharing what is effective or necessary on a High School Campus.
So, again, I have to take what they have to say, remember that they are coming from their point of view, their understanding, their use, their backgrounds, their prejudices (or not), etc and then I need to reconcile this to my own campus.
I work at a Private Christian School which has had severe budget cuts this year and with that a bit of a morale drop. On the up-side, after years of being told “don’t touch” with their computers, the teachers are being shown a variety of ways to touch and encouraged to push the IT more than it has ever been pushed.
So when I listen to someone talk about the necessity of going 1:1 or switching to e-books, creating a media center, or adding Professional Development opportunities, and much much more happening on their campus, I take what they are saying and filter it within my own school campus.
And one last example – Sessions about Internet Filters and Acceptable User Policies (AUP)
To filter, to not to filter, who is the filter, who is not the filter, is there a penalty for bypassing the filter, etc. And who writes the AUP, who signs the AUP, should there be an AUP, why is there an AUP, etc.
So I have to take what they say, remember that they are coming from their point of view, their understanding, their use, their backgrounds, their prejudices (or not), etc and then I need to reconcile this to my own campus.
Right now, on our campus, we have an internet filter. If teachers need a site unblocked, they have a form (it was paper, now it is a Google form) that goes to Admin to approve and then comes to IT. Almost all requests are opened. We have a no cell phone policy which is being ignored by some teachers which means we need to revamp our AUP.
So, when I listen to someone start sharing about the best way to run a school filter and the correct way to write an AUP….I take what they are saying and filter it within my own school campus.
Which, to sum this all up, is a suggestion of what I would like to remind you to do….and remember I am saying this through my background, my understanding, my point of view, and my prejudices (or not)……
Take advantage of all the conferences you can (both virtually and physically). When someone drops a link on twitter, plurk, blogs, wikis, of someone’s session (ie: you can even include my K12 online conference session) watch it, listen to it, but then filter it throughout your own campus.
In no way do I wish to convey that you should dismiss what someone shares if your campus is a polar opposite or even just a bit different – in fact, sometimes looking at my school through their eyes can be an “eye-opening” opportunity.
But do remember, that you, in the position you are right now, KNOW your campus better than anyone you are sitting there listening to.....
So take their words as suggestions not law, as ideas not ideals, and as guidelines but not finish lines….and then adapt or adjust as necessary.
Just my thoughts –
Feel free to share yours as well.
(cross posted at http://jenuinetech.com/blog/?p=1305)