It’s been over a week since BLC10 ended, but it’s still on my mind. It was a tremendous experience, largely because I attended the conference with seven colleagues, including our Upper School Division Head, our Student Support Services director and five classroom teachers. We blogged together throughout the conference, a practice which we began at BLC08. Here are my major “takeaways” from BLC 10:
Takeaway 1: Traveling with colleagues is the most effective form of Professional Development there is. Period.
- It creates a shared vocabulary & facilitates simultaneous transformation
- It provides an opportunity to generate new ideas together based on sessions, keynotes, extended conversations
- It reinforces your message to faculty without you having to say it
- It gives time and space to get to know colleagues socially, builds communion and trust and respect and shorthand and mutual appreciation and the desire to work together more closely
Takeaway 2: We should all see ourselves (and our students) as creators and makers
- Kids have creative voices and ideas and visions that our “assignments” don’t tap into
- If we’re asking questions that already have an answer, they’re the wrong questions
- It’s exciting to mash-up each other’s work and build upon it
- Kids think they are meaning-seekers. We need to help them become meaning-makers
- Kids (and teachers) as bloggers & writers – give them their own space, their own domain
- When we create, we can change the world. People are already doing it.
Takeaway 3: We each have a digital presence. It’s up to us to determine and shape what’s there.
- Find out what’s “out there” about you or your organization (using tools like Google alerts) – it’s like pulling your annual credit report, but ongoing
- PLNs: Your value as a professional partly lies in your connections to others and to information (i.e. Jeff Utecht’s job search)
- Joining in the conversation defines your voice and presence – you’re creating a bigger picture of who you are every time you speak up or publish something online. (Be aware of tone – almost like being in interview mode)
- Have a digital “calling card” (i.e. your own domain) that links to all of your online places
- Don’t be afraid to toot your own horn – educators are traditionally terrible at this, but there are ways to do this
Takeaway 4: Tools and Technology to Consider
- iPhones, iPod Touches, iPads and Kindles(!) are potentially powerful learning and teacher tools. You can make movies, extend your class or school library, find apps for everything.
- RSS, Tags and hashtags are your friends – in Flickr, in Twitter, when referencing a PLN or conference
- What is your “container” for your class or school? It doesn’t really matter, but you want one place to aggregate everything (blog, wiki, webpage, etc.)
- Give students their own blogs, their own domains, their own opportunities to create a digital portfolio that follows them throughout all the grades. You can always use aggregators (like Netvibes) to pull the RSS feeds from all their spaces onto a single page
- Libraries need two front doors – the physical and the virtual door. There are zillions of resources out there to help build a content-rich virtual door.
- Flickr – so much great, copyright-friendly stuff for you and your students to utilize. What content are you adding, tagging, sharing for others to use and connect to you?
- Twitter – Connect, learn, be polite, retweet others’ ideas, share what you’re doing and learning and thinking. Twitter is changing customer service, marketing, politics, business, media, career development