Monday, February 2, 2009

Introduction and Exploration

In her blog 21st Century Learning, Sheryl Nussbaum Beach talks about Why Change? I think she says it all so eloquently yet powerfully. It is motivating and inspiring and I wish I had this when I did my workshop on Voicethread.

When I was doing workshops last week on using Voicethread, I looked into the teacher’s faces and saw so many different emotions. I saw looks of “this looks interesting but I’m not sure I have time to try this”, “I love this and I can’t wait to try this!”, and of course the “this looks good but I have an awful class and there is no way I could do this with them.” I think most of the participants came with open minds because it was voluntary for them to come to the session so I felt hope.

I think it really helped for them to talk about how Voicethread could be used in their class and at their schools. I want to remember that when I do workshops introducing something that I always leave time for them to personalize the learning. If they don’t have time to discuss this and brainstorm ways to use it, I feel that I am spinning my wheels and wasting everyone’s time. By personalizing the learning, the knowledge becomes their own and it is the first step towards progress.

While walking to another classroom, the instructional coach and I talked about getting them started with this and I reminded her that we needed to take baby steps. The ones that were excited about it would begin to use it and word of mouth would spread this like a virus. I reminded her how people felt when PowerPoint first became the tool of choice. Then everyone started using it and now teachers don’t think twice about it. I’m hoping the more we start using different tools, it will slowly spread. She is planning “sandbox” time for teachers to play with Voicethread while together so if there are problems, they can help each other. This was a great idea! Just telling people about this isn’t enough and we need to give them time to get their hands on it and play with it. Getting together and trying something new also takes the fear out of it. Most teachers don’t try something new if they are alone because they are afraid they will have problems and become frustrated with it. No one has this kind of time to waste! There is safety in numbers so I need to remember to suggest that when teaching a new tool, there should be 2 sessions: one for introduction including demonstration and another for exploration.

I think by incorporating both introduction and exploration, we would be more successful in increasing the number of teachers using new tools. Shouldn’t we be doing the same thing with our students too? What do you think?

Original image: 'Sad zen garden' MaryKathleen aka Kate


Anonymous said...

Hi Pat,

Your post really struck a chord with me. I do a great deal of on site professional development, that is, in the lab at a school. Recently a couple of teachers at one of these schools made the very suggestion to me that you described in your post. Basically they asked if we could meet one day for instruction, introduction, discussion, etc.--then the next time we meet revisit the same application/topic allowing time for exploration and application. I welcomed, and praised their suggestion and promptly made that change. I equally welcomed your remarks here. Thank you so much! BJ

loonyhiker said...

BJ: It is so nice to know that I'm not the only one who feels this way. Thanks for reading my blog!