Thanks to some encouragement from some of my awesome Twitter PLN, including Rafranz Davis, I managed to bust out a blog post a couple days ago. So as I blogged in "How I Grew My Twitter PLN Without Even Knowing It" a few days ago, it kind of took on a life of its own. For as long as I can remember, I have not particularly enjoyed writing, nor do I consider myself a good writer. But once I reflected and cranked out a blog, I felt immediate gratification and validation upon getting a few comments. It was amazing to feel that sense of community as I read responses and comments. It was one of those "lightbulb" moments where I immediately thought about how authentic and beneficial this sort of activity/process is for our students! I was so moved, that I've decided to reflect and blog again. The writing part is getting a little easier, but there are still some struggles for me as I wrestle with my reflections and thoughts and formulate a coherent plan to share them.
I presented at a conference a few weeks ago and I compared using Twitter as a PLN to drinking from a firehose. The past few weeks I've learned that a firehose was perhaps an underestimation. It's more like a river! I'm getting so much from my Twitter experience, I still can't make myself organize lists and "dip into the river," and I have been taking it all in as much as I possibly can. Now, I do have a few things going for me that allow me to do this. I have a whack sack of devices (that was for you @shareski) that I can use to stay connected. It is also my few weeks of Summer Vacation, where I force myself to stay away from the office for a little bit.
While I continue to learn and grow with my PLN, the overwhelming flood if information and resources have caused me to want, and need, to reflect on successes, failures, and areas for improvement in my district. It has also both helped and forced me to set aside some of the larger items that I cannot control, and instead focus on what will help teachers and students and administrators be even better at what they do. To keep this post a reasonable length, and to focus things down for simplicity, I'll outline my thoughts. Likewise, I have to take the wealth of information I'm seeing daily and narrow it down to a few areas and then prioritize.
Priorities/Things to improve:
- Ed Tech Focus: Due to varying circumstances and limitations, the first few years of my tenure as Tech Coordinator were focused on the "IT" side of things and I'll readily admit that the "Ed Tech" side of things suffered. A few years of survival mode prevented me from encouraging effective Ed Tech proactively to staff. I was definitely not "glass half empty," but was forced to have tunnel vision. I'll re-read this post by George Couros and this post by Tom Murray and do as much as I can to promote Ed Tech daily.
- Digital Citizenship: Again, due to limitations, and maybe even fear, we've blocked all social media for students and in some cases staff as well. I think we need to dispel the taboo/myth status of social networking and instead focus on showing how to use them responsibly. We will need to place a priority on Digital Citizenship K-12 and involve parents and community as well.
- Pedagogy, not Shiny Gadgets: Everyone, including myself loves a shiny gadget. But I want to emphasize and encourage Teachers to identify the things they want their students to learn, and then find technology to fit and engage and make the learning even more relevant.
- Build on Success: Hey, we've done some great things too. Ubiquitous WiFi in all schools, and we are 4 years into our Google Apps For Education (GAFE) suite. It is time to dive in 100% and commit to our strengths and maximize the limitless benefits of our Google solutions. We can use the SAMR model and transform how our kids are learning and creating/sharing.
- Professional Development: Continue to find ways to make teachers and staff want to learn more! Gamify? Be creative. Organize our social media presence and give staff lots of resources they can explore on their own. Identify tech users/leaders and let them lead their buildings and departments.