It’s been a while since I’ve done a “how to” style workshop. I’ve purposely shied away from them instead trying to move the conversations more towards, “what might you do that makes a difference for kids?” I’ve been referred to by a local high school principal as “Big Idea Dean”. I can’t say for sure, but I take it as a compliment. I guess I’m trying to aspire to this:
The reason I’ve not done many “how to” or tool based workshops is simply because as an initial introduction to I don’t think it works. That said, I’ve done some in the past and do support teachers with just in time learning. I’ll get teachers and administrators asking about blogs. My first response is always “why?”. Without a belief and understanding of how it might help kids, it’s generally a waste of time. Instead I ask them to take a step back, do some lurking, determine what you want to do and then dive in. Backward by design. I’ve just seen my early approach of showing how easy things are to be less than successful. I’ve said it many times, just because it’s easy, doesn’t mean you’ll do it or that it has value.
So I do more of these “big picture” style talks, focusing on shifts, and often leave wondering if I’ve done any good.
Lately I’ve had a number of conversations that tells me maybe I have. One teacher in particular tracked me down in a coffee shop and told me, “I get it! I didn’t get it 2 years ago when you talked about it but now I do!” She went on to talk about how she uses a wiki to provide learning opportunities for her students, about how their work is public and transparent, how the look after each other and how the learn from each other. I’m less frustrated, less concerned when teachers are banging down the doors to make shifts in their classrooms simply because I or someone else has presented a compelling idea for change. For many these talks and presentations need time to sit and stew.
They are seeing the shifts all around them as well. Whether it’s network news talking about the impact of twitter on election coverage or simply their own experience connecting and posting content on Facebook, teachers are beginning to see how these things might impact their classrooms.
So if you’re out there and feel like you’re a voice in the wilderness, take heart, you’re seed planting.
Image: ‘Planting Seeds‘