Well edchats can be dangerous things. I had the chance to check out an edchat this weekend, following the hashtag #10principles. This was a great chat, which included the authors of the book The Principled Principal: 10 Principles for Leading Exceptional Schools by Jeffrey Zoul and Anthony McConnell. One of the questions in the chat was about how to share your school’s story. Ian Rockey answered that his school utilized a podcast.
Boom! Successful edchat. I hadn’t considered a podcast as a way to share a message and reflect on the thinking and work we’re doing in the TLI department. Of course, I hadn’t considered twitter or blogging either as we were kicking this department into gear 3 years ago. Now I can’t imagine my professional life without them. Twitter and blogging have opened up and enriched my professional life more than I can describe.
So….wanting to model risk, innovation, likelihood of failure, and the possibility of learning, I did some quick research. I googled ‘create a podcast’. And found this link: https://www.buzzsprout.com/how-to-make-a-podcast. I followed its instructions pretty much to a T. And thus this now exists: https://www.buzzsprout.com/174555/.
Pretty clunky and rambling first effort, but it sure felt like my toes were hanging over the edge of a precipice. Let’s see what happens next!
Want to get them up and moving? Want to see what’s on their minds? Want to spark a little creativity?
Set a timer for 1 minute. Have the kids look around the room at everything, including you and each other. Have them generate 5 questions. Then give them 10 minutes to find the answers to those questions. Then have them share their favorite question and answer combination with the class.
Questions like: How do you make a window? Where do those learning target things come from? When did you start drinking coffee? What is that kid’s name over there? Why is that class on the other side of the wall always laughing so much? Why are we doing this?
Of course you could direct the type of questions to be about content. Questions like: is anybody else confused about number 12? I’d love to share my ideas about finding slope, anybody interested? How did the order of the amendments happen? How tall was Abraham Lincoln? How tall was his hat?
You could refer to homework. You could refer to an upcoming piece of content. And of course, you probably need to set some kind of expectations for the appropriate types of questions. Ones that don’t hurt anybody or embarrass anybody.
Here are just a few quotes from some smart people about making oneself available to learn and grow via a Professional Learning Network.
“Isolation is now a choice educators make.”
“To have thousands of fellow minds in your pocket via mobile devices is to have an immensely unfair advantage over humans who think alone.”
“Being a connected educator is the single most important thing I’ve done to transform how I teach. I have gathered and tried new ideas. I’ve learned, asked questions, and developed an amazing online, professional learning network.”
“I realized two important things at this conference. First, as leaders, we must take time to engage in specific learning opportunities that help to improve our craft. We spend so much time in our positions working to help provide learning and growth to our staff that we forget about developing ourselves specifically in our roles. Secondly, I was introduced to the incredible power of a professional learning network (PLN) to combat the isolation of leadership. Until that moment, I thought Twitter was just another social media tool to keep up with what the celebrities were up to at the moment. PIRATE principal Jay Billy taught me the ins and outs of using Twitter as a tool to connect and gain access to 24/7 free professional development.”
And here’s proof of the power. This morning several colleagues and I were talking about ‘fidelity.’ Did asking educators to attend closely to new materials mean we didn’t trust them? In reading Lead Like a PIRATE: Make School Amazing for Your Students and Staff by Shelley Burgess and Beth Houf, a cogent argument could be made to that point. However, we didn’t feel like that was from where we were coming. Trust was not the issue compelling ‘fidelity’. So we used the power of Twitter and our PLN to reach out to both of the authors. And we heard back from both. Consider that. These two authors have roughly 73,000 followers between them on Twitter. And we felt comfortable sending along a message with our thinking on ‘fidelity’, and they were kind enough to reach back. Amazing.
Here’s the exchange:
This would NOT have happened 4 years ago for me. I didn’t get the power of Twitter or a PLN. I thought Twitter was simply to take pictures of stuff and share it to 33 people. Wrong. And dead wrong.
If you are not making use of Twitter and a PLN, you are in danger of becoming illiterate. And it’s by choice. A little harsh, I realize, but I’m living the life of ongoing, on demand, learning, after 34 years in the education racket. And it’s wonderful.