Personal Learning Network Evangelist

There has been so much change going on in my professional life this school year. When I was asked to do the Powerful Learning Practice, I was definitely interested, a little nervous, but definitely interested. I love professional development, I always have. I love the way professional development can recharge your batteries. When Sheryl Nussbaum- Beach and Will Richardson (the creators/owners of PLP) met with our group, they told us to be learners and not worry about changing a thing yet in our classrooms. How freeing that was! I was truly able to just read blogs and lurk (although not for long) on Twitter and enjoy this new world of technology and community. At first, it felt as though I was on a roller coaster ride passing by hundreds of technology choices. At first, Twitter felt like the party I was always late arriving to and how was I ever going to keep up?!  At first, I didn’t understand what being part of a real community was and that you cannot just be a taker but you also need to be a giver. Being a learner, I realized of course, also requires being a risk taker and wasn’t that what I wanted from my students? What I realized was that I could get off of the roller coaster ride and choose a couple of the technology tools I saw along the way and try the ones that would help me be a better teacher and of course, my students be better learners. And when I was ready, I could incorporate something else I had learned along the way.

However, the most valuable thing I am learning now is the power of being connected and having a personal learning network. I almost hate to say it because it’s such a buzz word right now but it’s so true, plns are invaluable really.  Having a community of professionals that I can reach out to has absolutely been the most valuable thing I have learned. It has helped me to remember that I need to be empathetic in this process of shift, that I am not alone and I really do not need to know everything. I have many people who can help me along the way. At first I was frustrated with the lack of movement or enthusiasm from my colleagues for all of the new stuff I was learning. Now, I am sharing the importance and value of creating a personal learning network with one colleague at a time. One at a time, I am sharing with teachers how to use Twitter, what is Symbaloo, what is Quadbogging, how did I Mystery Skype, how do I know this person or that person. It’s amazing and I truly feel like a personal learning network evangelist, as corny as that sounds, but it has been really rewarding. It’s not happening at the rate I would like but maybe this is how it’s got to be, slowly but surely, teachers at my school are opening up. Time is always a complaint and I totally get it, but you do make time for what is valuable, it’s very true. I am excited and anxious about what must be next in my journey of shift, but I am still looking forward to it!

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The Borg and Learning

I have been thinking a lot the past few days about adding as individuals to the collective to make us stronger as learners. At times, for some reason, it does make me a little nervous…I often think of the Borg from Star Trek–assimilate or die was your choice. I am sure these are just paranoid thoughts and my worry about making sure that we each keep our individual voices, but in this new age, this age of Shift does anyone else worry about too much sameness in all of this? I hear a lot of the same buzz words flying around lately and I just want to keep myself in check that I am listening to the alternative voices out there because I don’t think we see them a lot in the circles most of us are running around in lately-PLP, Twitter, etc. Unfortunately, those other voices are usually the ones that are silent and I know there are a lot of them because I feel their silent pushing back at my own school all of the time. Don’t get me wrong, I am 100% involved and believing in making this Shift. I just think it’s important to keep ourselves in check and continue questioning ourselves…any other thoughts out there?

Making the Shift

I decided to switch from edublogs to wordpress in hopes of a better format. The more I read, the more I realize how much I want a place to write down my feelings and thoughts of this new adventure I feel I am taking part in. Hopefully wordpress.com will be a good place.

I am so thankful for the experience I have gone through this year. I agreed to take part in a professional development experience called the Powerful Learning Practice which began in September. It has helped me to change and grow as a teacher, but more importantly as a person. I realize now that we are in a time of educational revolution. Whether people know it or not I truly believe that with my heart and soul. It’s scary, exciting, overwhelming, and invigorating. I suppose I sound like one who may enjoy extreme sports like jumping out of an airplane, but I do not. This process, this realization that I am #1 not alone, #2 a learner just like my students, and #3 passionate, truly passionate about education and am in the right field of work has been priceless.

Now, with that being said, it has also been and continues to be a painfully frustrating process at times. At times, I have felt like I have been alone during the day to day struggles. The school culture in an old private institution like the one I work in can be slow to change, very slow. There are really good things about that and really bad things about that. I believe, many teachers that have gotten into education got into it because they like security and didn’t like change…they also like to be in control. I am guilty of all of those things. I am in no way saying all teachers are like that, but many are. However, change is acomin’, it always does. The job you signed up for as a teacher is no longer, most likely, the job you will have. I struggle to share my ideas with my colleagues without overwhelming them. I have been told twice this year that I am “overwhelming.” Why? Because I put forth ideas that are new and use what I think may be a better tool to teach something. Why do teachers feel like they have to do what everyone else is doing? Why do they feel like they have to keep up with the person next door? I just read a blog that put forth the idea of not calling us “teachers” anymore–who knows, maybe that will help people think of themselves differently and open up.

I am being impatient I know. I wish I could make my administrators tell everyone next year that they do not have to do anything new–they just have to be learners. They just have to connect to the outside world, read some blogs, lurk on Twitter, check out some new tools and then meet once a month for some wine or beer to talk about it…casually talk about what they found, what they wondered, what they got scared or angry about.  I wonder how quickly the “Shift” would happen then? I think it would happen pretty quickly.