It Is Just No Longer An Option.

This blog post originated as a reply to Kim Figliomeni’s blog. Needless to say, I realized that I had too much to share and decided the length of my “reply” was more appropriate for a dedicated post. Kim has asked other educators to join her in spending 10 minutes a day to connect with others. She is following OSSEMOOC’s Ten Minutes of Connecting Challenge that Donna Fry (@Fryed) created.

Here is my take away from OSSEMOOC’s Day 1 post:

I love the quote:

“Using technology is no longer an option for us. We must support our students to succeed in our physical and digital world.”

In my role as the Technology Enabled Learning and Teaching Contact for SNCDSB, I sometimes hear:
“I’m no good at that technology stuff.”
“I just don’t do computers.”
“I’m not a computer person.” ****
A colleague of mine (@WallwinS) often asks the question: How would we respond if an educator said something like that about Math? In Ontario, we have worked so hard to improve teacher efficacy with respect to Mathematics. In fact, it is absolutely taboo for an educator to say: “I don’t do Math.” Why? Simply put: We want our students to feel confident that they are all capable of learning new Math concepts, so we have to model that growth mindset for them.

Why should we approach technology enabled learning any differently? The Khan Academy video that is shared in the OSSEMOOC post is correct – you can learn anything. I remember thinking that html code was perplexing. To me, people who could code were magicians. Now that I’ve been forced to use it a bit, I see that once you understand the “language,” it is not such a scary and mysterious thing.

The second video shared in the OSSEMOOC post, Learning to Change – Changing to Learn really emphasized that as educators it is our duty to take ownership over technology’s role in education.  We need to use technology in our classrooms – to borrow a quote from our Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau – because it’s 2015. And we aren’t using technology for the sake of using technology; we need to use it to provide some new and innovative learning opportunities for our students (but this is another blog post in and of itself)!

 

****FYI: These teachers usually know way more than they give themselves credit for.

Model What you Seek.

“Model what you seek.”

Those are the words I needed to hear. And those are the words that have been simultaneously stressing me out and encouraging me ever since George Couros spoke to me about blogging at SeLNO (Thunder Bay’s regional conference on technology-enabled learning).

George: Katie, do you blog?

Me: No

George: You should. Model what you seek.

Between you and me, I didn’t like hearing those 4 words: Model what you seek. I didn’t like them because they were what I knew deep down to be true. It’s not as though I’ve never thought about blogging before. Last Spring, I made up my mind that I was going to start sharing my thoughts in a digital space. Here I am – ONE YEAR LATER – finally doing it.

So, what took so long? I can chalk it up to 4 questions:

  1. What if no one thinks that what I have to share is worthwhile?
  2. Is it going to make me look like a know-it-all?
  3. How can I fit it into my schedule?
  4. What if people see me working on a blog post during the work day? Will it look bad?

I was afraid – afraid of the vulnerability, afraid of the time commitment, and afraid of how it would make me “look.” But, then there were those 4 words: Model what you seek. I decided to take myself out of the equation and think about how I would answer those questions if a teacher in my school board came to me with them.

1. What if no one thinks that what I have to share is worthwhile?

Of course what you have to share is worthwhile! As an educator, we spend our entire career encouraging our students to share what they’ve learned with others – that’s how we grow as people; we learn from one another.

2. Is it going to make me look like a know-it-all?

Think about the people who you know who have blogs. How do you feel about them? You likely don’t think that they believe they have all of the answers. Bloggers are just eager to share their thinking to a large audience. Part of what they are doing is  looking for a conversation with others, so that they themselves can become better educators.

3. How can I fit it into my schedule?

You need to make it part of your work day. If you read through the Ontario College of Teachers’ Standard of Practice, you’ll see that Reflection is part of your job. Writing to an audience will help you gather your thoughts, encourage you to question, and give you a venue to get others’ opinions. All of this is worth the time it takes, because it will make you a better teacher.

4. What if people see me working on a blog post during the work day? Will it look bad? 

This question has less to do with you, and more to do with the people who are assuming that you are doing something that isn’t related to student learning. If anyone questions you, take it as an opportunity to show them the value of having a professional learning network who you connect with online.

So, my beliefs obviously didn’t match my actions. Why in the world could I encourage another person to blog when I was afraid of doing it? It’s simple: this is a risk for me that takes me out of my comfort zone. But, as the contact for technology-enabled learning for my school board, how can I be asking teachers to blog when I’m not willing to take that risk? Am I scared? Heck yes! But, in my role, I’m often asking people to try new things. And this blog is “my next”  (Mark Carbone). Model what you seek. Thanks George.