#expbound


Everyone from the OTF / ECOO “Expanding Our Boundaries” session in Toronto should be back home again, I would think.  It’s kind of nice just to kick back and do a little reflecting about the events of the past two days.  Big kudos certainly need to go out to the Ontario Teachers Federation and the Educational Computer Organization of Ontario for organizing this event for us.

It was great to meet up with some old friends and acquaintances like @timisually, @nmotiar, @peterskillin, @barbaram, @tgianno, @rickbudd, @bsherry, and @bruceetes.

Bruce has something to share
Bruce has something to share

Image from kpix20 – Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic

It was terrific to put faces to Twitter names as well.  I had a chance to meet @shannoninottawa, @danikabarker, @kentmanning, @ntoft@janesmith, @canadiancurls80, @lmlsof, @davidweightman, @acoupal, and @zbpipe.

And, of course, our facilitator for the two days, @willrich45

It was a very busy two days as you’ll notice from a Twitter search.  In a little ol’ hotel room in Toronto, we were making so much virtual noise that we were noticed as trending on Twitter by the bots that care about that sort of thing.

Mid conference, Will Richardson posted to his blog about the need to personalize professional development for teachers as well.  Over morning coffee on the second day, I was chatting with Will indicating that I had tried to respond to his post but couldn’t quite make sense.  I couldn’t find a way to make it important – it was just a bunch of circuitous statements that weren’t taking me anywhere.  Then, in the afternoon of the second day, I heard a comment that put it into focus for me.  The comment included the words “teacher training.”

Now, those are two words that drive me nuts.  I can train a dog to sit or go outside when nature calls.  I can train a budgie to sit on my finger.  Teacher training?  I suppose that we did a little training on Friday.  After all, Will taught the group to put #expbound in a Twitter post so that we could track comments throughout the event. If that’s the extent of the takeaway from the event, then I guess folks were trained.

The point shouldn’t have been to learn one simple task in true Pavlovian fashion.  The point should be to take this and many of the other skills and ideas to substantially change the attitudes and skills in our professional repertoire.  At that moment, forget the notion of “training”; we’re now in the realm of professional development and growing our abilities because of it.

One of the important takeaways for me was that you can’t do it alone.  You need a network of folks behind you willing to help you in whatever professional development journey we take.  As teachers, we’re not always so good at it.  This post from Danika Barker makes such an important observation about the difference between the generations.  Kids have no problems with sharing at all.  In fact, it is forcing a re-think on the notion of copyright.  Teachers, on the other hand, like to file things away in filing cabinets and not share.  For the teachers reading this post, how many times do you attend an event and you’re asked to bring “one thing to share”.  Wouldn’t it be perfect if that one thing was a link to your website or wiki where you have everything available?

Time will tell what sort of impact this event will have.  If we’re trained, you’ve probably seen the last of it with our initial Twitters, our goofie “Here’s my first blog entry”, our “Hello World” podcasts, our “Follow Will’s RSS” exercise.  If we’ve been professionally developed, you’ll see a community of folks sharing, thoughtful blog posts, a little more wik in our wikis, and an openness and sharing of resources.  We’ll see more and more demands on OTF and ECOO and others to run this event so that we can continue to grow the online Ontario community of educators.

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