August 9, 2011

The Gift of Gab

Last week my school held the annual Staff Retreat where we review logistics for the coming year, important changes and school-wide initiatives, and teachers share about summer professional development.  Naturally, I was among the teachers sharing about summer pd.  In fact, the morning of Day 2 of #RSCON3, I emailed my principal sharing all about #RSCON3 and asked to present at the staff retreat.  I may have also included the superintendent in on the email (it seemed like a good idea at the time...).  This is the email I sent on 7/30/11.
Dear Principal and Superintendent, "I've had an educational awakening of sorts this summer, which has led me to discover an amazing wealth of people, resources, ideas, and innovations online.  I've started a blog,  (shameless plug, I know), I'm creating a PLN comprised of educators all over the world, and I was even convinced to create a Twitter account.  Now you know where I'm coming from as I actually get to the point of my email.
This weekend is an online global event for education called Reform Symposium (RSCON3).  It began yesterday and I was able to participate in several sessions which were phenomenal.  You are both strong influences in my career as an educator because of your ideals, passions, encouragement, and leadership.  I think you would appreciate some of the topics being presented in the next two days of RSCON3 and I would like to share the links with you.
(links were included in email)
With the changes and struggles that education is facing in Indiana (and globally), it's been easy to feel limited and frustrated at times.  Through my journey of awakening this summer, those feelings have changed.  I feel empowered and capable to break down the walls of my classroom, redefine barriers, connect and create community in my classroom, school, and on a global scale.  Chuck Sandy presented last night and shared about the Design for Change initiative.  These five words are the essence of the movement: feel, imagine, do, share, continue.
Thank you for letting me share a little bit about my journey and the information about RSCON3 with you.  It kind of feels like I've hit the "educational jackpot" for inspiration, innovation, and community. "
I am so fortunate to work for a supportive administrator who encourages my enthusiasm, wild ideas, and said she wouldn't put a timer on me while I shared at retreat.

Back to the retreat...  #RSCON3 was such an inspiring event that I just had to share some of my favorite quotes, lightbulb moments, and themes.  So, I created a prezi (because I also wanted to share prezi).  This was my first Prezi and it's a bit rough around the edges, but once I got the hang of it, prezi was truly fun to use.  No link to this prezi, trust me, it really is rough...  The next prezi on my to-do list is the daunting task of my Parent Curriculum Night presentation.

Also, I had so many amazing links and resources I wanted to share with staff, but I felt flustered with how to provide this information in a format they could readily access.  I ended up creating an account on Diigo because of the feature to publish lists and links publicly and teachers could access the links from home or school.  I'm also working on creating a group for teachers at my school so we can collectively add and share the resources we find.

Our retreat was in the computer lab at school so I had teachers go to my Diigo site.  I did pass out one handout with the title "learning is changing" (thank you for that thought @chucksandy) and the web address for the Diigo site.  The rest of the page was blank for their own thoughts, ideas, and connections.   I shared a few specific links from my "Connect and Collaborate" list.  One in particular is Michael Graffin's post An Important Milestone - #RSCON3.  I really wanted to share the idea of a PLN with the staff and his reflective post was well worth sharing.  The post is so well published in many ways.  The images were an immediate hook, like the world map slide of attendees (yes, I was one of them!!) showing the international presence of educators, the response slide to "How do you Connect and Collaborate?" with so many different means and media, and the take-aways slide image which is so encouraging.  Plus, all the relevant links to the recordings and the actual slides from his "What the Heck is a PLN" are included.

And that's when I lost my audience.

Really, it was a great moment to realize that none of them were listening to me anymore.  They were viewing the presentation, exploring other lists on Diigo, and sharing their own favorite resources.  If their connecting and collaborating had been colors, I could have painted a masterpiece.  I just had to smile because suddenly in that moment it wasn't about what I had to share, it was about their exploring and learning.

P.S.  The superintendent sent a reply to my email on 8/2/11,
"Yo, Sara--  I like it when you're on fire for the work!  Bravo.  Have a great start and great year."
Three days after his reply to my email, he published his first post on a new blog.  Butterfly effect?  
You decide. 

1 comment:

  1. Well, I've read many amusing blog posts in my time, but this one really takes the cake.

    Firstly, I must admit to being extremely pleased with the wonderful review of my blog post & #rscon3 presentation :P; however, it is truly wonderful to know in a small way, its' impact has gone beyond my wildest expectations.

    I've always said, that if I can help just one teacher, somewhere in the world, to find a new way to connect & collaborate - I'd have achieved what I set out to do. So, thankyou Sara for helping your colleagues to take that first step - it's the first step on a long, but very rewarding road.

    Michael (@mgraffin)