Well, this is a first, but I suppose when you do a lot of educational technology workshops for “teacher volunteers” this is bound to happen. I’m in a large Oklahoma school district to teach a workshop on virtual field trips… five teachers registered and confirmed they’d attend, but no one showed up for the workshop! 🙁
I was planning to use an excerpt from David Warlick’s pre-conference keynote for K12Online 2006 about “Derailing Education: Taking Sidetrips for Learning” to frame the discussion. Often I think the learning experiences which can be most memorable and engaging for our students ARE the “side trips” that we take within or from our curriculum and scope and sequence guide. If you buy that, the case for virtual field trips is pretty clear I think.
I visited with an instructional technology director in another district recently about the tremendously negative impact NCLB and high-stakes accountability / summative testing has had on the cause of constructivist learning in US classrooms overall. In many ways, I think we were more advanced pedagogically in the mid to late 1990s when we had a good bit of momentum around programs like HyperStudio and the goal of students creating digital media artifacts of their learning (Interestingly there is currently a WikiPedia article for HyperCard but not one for HyperStudio.) In today’s high stakes accountability environment, side trips for learning like virtual field trips are often regarded as “fluff” which we just don’t have time for in the school day, because the activities and learning experiences students may have through those lessons don’t appear to directly prepare them for “the test.” In many ways we live in a sad day for education… but that is the “glass half empty” perspective. The “glass half full” perspective observes that we have tremendous OPPORTUNITIES today to reshape and transform education, particularly as amazing technology tools are increasingly at our fingertips. (Despite the authoritarian reach of school district firewalls and content filters.)
I am not sure why we didn’t have anyone show up for today’s workshop. I debated whether or not to even blog about this… but many blogs are (at least in my view) about transparency and providing a window into the mind of the writer… so this is where I am and what I’m thinking about today. Yes, we are very close to the Christmas holidays, so perhaps scheduling this workshop during this time was a poor choice. (It was the district’s request, but I had input into the scheduling too.) Perhaps some people had emergencies, perhaps some had parents or children who stayed after school… there are a multitude of possibilities, none of which are likely personal to me. This is actually the fifth workshop I’ve shared this fall with teachers in this particular district, and the past ones have had enthusiastic participation and I’ve really enjoyed them. So I’m not sure what happened today, but likely it has most to do with the date in mid-December before the holidays.
This experience does further reinforce the idea that one-shot professional development as we tend to do it in US public schools today is a relatively poor learning model for teachers or anyone else. Spray and pray PD IS analogous to scattering seed on rocky soil. A few seeds may sprout, and we should do all we can to water and nurture those– but to grow a healthy crop for a decent harvest, we really need to prepare the soil, fertilize, and plant with a more systemic approach. That requires leadership vision on the campus, district, and even state level… And seeds of that type are not planted or grown overnight.
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- 365 Photo Blog: Posterous, WordPress or just Flickr? - 2010
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- Linda Darling-Hammond has my vote for SOE - 2008
- Podcast295: Reconsidering Paradigms of Value and Rewards for Teacher Expertise with John Costilla of WeAreTeachers.com - 2008
- Podcast208: Blending Learning with Powerful Ingredients - 2007
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