Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Springboard for Change

flickr photo shared by Jeff Howard

As ISTE wraps up I am starting to sort through the wide variety of experiences I have had this week. I have sat through sessions on apps for the classroom and tools for students. There were also sessions that discussed the future of innovative teaching and pedagogy.  Most of these sessions have been extremely informative and some even enlightening.  But what is my take away?  What changes?

I was lucky enough to have a conversation with George Couros after the conference keynote, Jane McGonigal, spoke on Sunday night.  He asked me what I would change after listening to the speaker, suggesting a speaker is truly effective if they create a springboard for change. That conversation encouraged me view the sessions I attended through a different lens.  I stopped analyzing what I could get out of the session and started asking how will this ultimately transform my teaching?

This idea of transformation has been on my mind all week.  Baltimore City Public Schools is a district that has been transforming for last decade.  A current example is a ten-year initiative to transform our existing schools into 21st Century buildings. The possibilities with a plan like this are astounding; just imagine what could be available for our kids.  One the other hand, what happens if we don't also transform our teachings within those buildings?  Additionally, when do we question how important the buildings and spaces actually are in relationship to what we actually need to help our students gain these 21st century skills. 

I have connected with some incredible people this week and it had nothing to do with the device I was using or the apps I used within that device.  The space did not really influence what we discussed or what we learned.  The connections revolve within intimacy of conversations and common bonds.  The teachers at this conference are doing amazing things and talking with them was far more powerful and transformative that anything tangible around us or in that space.  I have sat through some poor sessions but I have yet to have a meaningless conversation.

So what do I change about my teaching?  What does transformation look like in my classroom and in our district?  How do I take the ideas of the speakers and the information about technology and make it meaningful?  

I think it starts with connections.  Connecting with my colleagues and students and helping to create a tangled web of connections that spans all reaches of our globe.  Then, we make meaningful changes and we transform.

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