Yesterday was the culminating celebration for the PLPOntario cohort for Powerful Learning Practice. The Ontario and Michigan groups came together to show off what they have learned over the past year. The excitement and buzz was electric in the room as we started the day by going from centre to centre to see the efforts and works from the various groups.
There were movies, presentations, live demonstrations – and best of all intense discussion as we moved from group to group. The entire day was one of those on-going “Why didn’t I think of that?” events. Twitter was alive with discussions and you can follow them here.
Below, you can see a shot of Will Richardson as he pulled the group together at the end of an intense day. If you closely, you can see my friend Charlotte’s desktop. We had a chance to do an unconference session called Social Media for Social Good and she talked about one of her personal projects which is Christmas for Canines where money raised goes to the local Humane Society and to the Jane Goodall society. By itself, that could take an entire day to discuss the good things that students and education can do with Social Media.
If you look carefully on the table, we had a temporary electrical solution so that there were no dead battery issues for the day. And, it worked!
One of the activities that engaged the audience was breaking into smaller groups and to focus on a take away from the day. While there were many takeaways, we had to focus on just one and then share it with the group and my group had 30 minutes to look at “Vision”.
Now, this is the stuff that huge committees spend a year developing and then hours refining and getting to constituents. 30 minutes? We decided to focus on a number of things that people need to consider when developing a vision. Our sense was that systems need to know the answers to these point and classroom practitioners need to be able to articulate this as well.
So, what goes into a good vision?
a) A good vision needs to be valued by all stakeholders. Everyone in the process – teachers, parents, principals, supervisors, systems – all need to see the value and place a value on the activity.
b) Realistic / Attainable (yet aggressive) This goes to the “why” of the activity. It needs to be authentic, support address curriculum expectations and the technology that’s available has to have an expectation of success for the best results. This is also a realm where you can’t rest on your laurels. Things are changing and educators need to aggressively embrace the best of breed technologies.
c) Somewhat messy at times. You’ve got to break a few eggs to make an omelette. Nothing could be truer when you work at this. You need to have your eyes open and be prepared for new learning as you proceed.
d) Has Momentum from Top-Down and Bottom-Up. Success is going to be achieved when you meet in the middle. Administrative needs to be supportive; teachers need to be innovating; technology departments need to enable. A successful rollout involves everyone.
e) Helps generate results. This isn’t a fancy or a whim or a field trip to nowhere. Value is found when the use of these technologies address curriculum expectations and engage students so that they want to succeed and the results prove this to be true, and as such, educationally worthwhile.
f) Motivates / Encourages People. We all know that motivated students achieve at higher levels. Therein lies the power. These technologies have the power to both motivate and provide the feedback of a job well done.
g) Everchanging (organic). You had best not do your lesson plans in ink if you’re diving into this realm. Unlike software that you install on your hard drive and then just use it, these technologies can change daily. Incredible programmers are working to add additional functionality continually.
h) Prepares us for an unknown future. Isn’t that the truth? If you’re living on the web, you know that there are new and exciting opportunities popping up daily. There’s never been a better time to be a life long learner.
And then, it was over. The buzz continued as we packed and headed to the exit. I had a chance to go out for dinner with one of the groups from our district. The conversation continued throughout dinner.
The year has been an incredible learning experience for this teacher. I was so proud to be a fellow and to work with such a dynamic, connected group. The skills, connections, and professionalism developed during the past year had to be experience to be completely understood. I’m sure that this sentiment was universally felt as we departed, ready to take on the world.