Jumping on the Bandwagon

August 8, 2007 at 5:58 pm 1 comment

It seems like all of my colleagues are blogging about our session with David Warlick yesterday, so I’m succumbing to the peer pressure and following suit.

First of all, let me say how mortified I was that my blog kept appearing on the big screen yesterday. I threw out the word “engagement” yesterday morning, thinking it a fairly benign term, and look what it got me: too much attention. It’s kind of horrifying to have my silly thoughts displayed for all in the room to see. Blogging from the privacy of my home – or even my classroom, for that matter – is so much less intimidating. I understand that the very nature of a blog is conducive to large numbers of people knowing your innermost thoughts, but it’s entirely different to be in the same room with those people as they’re reading them. Embarrassing, to say the least.

But I digress.

I took a few things away from the presentation, but I’m not sure that any of them have much to do with the presentation itself.

1) I think, like the gal I sat next to, that perhaps my expectations were a little too high. I don’t know if I was expecting Mr. Warlick to reveal the meaning of life or what. I think maybe I was hoping to find some magical solutions to my problems. We talked about creativity driving learning, but I have such a hard time getting my students to do anything creative that I left feeling a little down about the whole thing. I want my classroom to be a creative, thriving place, but I just don’t know how to get there. It’s one thing to talk about kids publishing blogs to the web; its another to get them to actually do it and be excited about it in an educational context.

We talked about students viewing computers as toys and how in order for that to change, a teacher has to be using it as a tool. A laptop can’t just sit, closed, on a teacher’s desk. It makes perfect sense, of course, but I run into a gap between the theory of it and what actually happens. I know that it’s probably my fault, but I don’t have enough experience yet to know what to do differently. And that makes me feel like I’m letting my students down.

2) A number of applications that Mr. Warlick wanted to show us were blocked by the district’s filters. I actually felt a little embarrassed. Applications with tons of potential are blocked because they fall under the “social networking” category. I just get so tired of it. My students always find ways around the district’s filters anyway; why are we spending time – and money – on shutting down their access to everything when we could be teaching them how to be responsible on the web instead? I think we get so focused on test scores and performance and the like that we lose some basic citizenship principles.

Why is “social networking” considered so bad? It seems pretty harsh to reject an entire concept based on sites like Myspace and Facebook. Sure, I understand the need to keep classrooms educational, but aren’t there some good connections out there to be made? Mr. Warlick talked yesterday about the tendency to compare our students with students from India and China. Instead of focusing on making our students competitive, perhaps we should be focusing on making them cooperative. As our world – and economy – becomes more and more global, they’re going to have to learn to work together sometime. But how can they do that when we keep making their circle of accessibility smaller and smaller?

3) It was at once frustrating, reassuring, and telling to be part of a group of people who consistently raised their hands to indicate “yes” to every question Mr. Warlick posed about particular technologies: “How many of you are bloggers?” “How many of you use an aggregator?” “How many of you know about wikis?” “Do any of you podcast?”

It was frustrating because, again, I think I expected some fresh, cutting-edge information to take back to school with me. It was reassuring because I finally figured out that the reason the information didn’t seem fresh or particularly cutting-edge is because my coworkers and I are already on the cutting edge. And it was telling that very few people in the room were from the high school level – the only grade levels in the district that are 100% 1:1. And my high school had, by far, the largest delegation present. Perhaps that’s part of the reason why we’re on the edge: so many of us strive to be that we’ll go to conferences knowing there’s no staff development credit in it for us.

Anyway, my socks are still on, but I’m glad I went. It seemed like lots of other teachers in the room were excited about the things Mr. Warlick said and I think that’s a good thing. We’re making progress!

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Entry filed under: Blogging, David Warlick, Flat Classrooms.

David Warlick just embedded my blog in his wiki. My First MEME

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. bb  |  August 9, 2007 at 7:43 am

    As a vetern teacher talking here, please don’t get discouraged! The perfect teaching world does not exist. I applaud you for the technology you use and your expertise. I was one of the other teachers at the conference. Since I teach in elementary school, there was a lot that I had heard about, played around with, but didn’t have a grasp as to how to really use it. While you felt discouraged, I felt rather “out of touch” with the techno world.
    Yes, the Academy is on the cutting edge. They are the best. But at my level, teachers are still viewing computers and saying, “My students can’t do that!” I am constantly told to quit having so much fun and get the students ready for the test. (not from my adminstrators, other teachers do)
    You are obviously at the point where you are doing “the best practices”. You just don’t realize it.
    My advice to you (I’m mothering you now) is to relax. You are on the right track, you know what you are doing, and you are doing it. Realize that for now, only a few of your students will be “excited” about using the technology. It’s not your fault, nor can you “fix” everyone. Just keep showing them how neat you think it is and don’t give up. Don’t get discouraged either!!! I’m sure your classroom is creative. Each year you teach will become better. You will “learn” your audience and be able to tweak your teaching style. Just remember, things will change each year if not each day.
    In my opinion, the lower levels need to get on the bandwagon with both feet. Then, you will see a difference in the expectations and abilities of your students at the high school level. This will take some time.
    Please don’t give up! We need teachers like you!! I would love to work with you because I feel you have what it takes and the ability to get there! HOLD YOUR HEAD HIGH! YOU ARE ONE OF THE BEST!
    bb

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