Saturday, April 14, 2007

Some very useful advice

Like most of us, I am trying to see where the whole social networking piece fits into my world, and Steve's Hargadon's two sites, Classroom 2.0 and School 2.0 have so far been great sources of information and resources. In my first attempt at posting to my page, I cross posted a series of questions about creating Web 2.0 buy-in from teachers and administration from my Tech Dossier page in order to solicit some additional feedback. What followed from Carolyn Foote appears below, with her permission. It's great stuff.

I've mentioned this here in another discussion but I think bringing the administration into the conversation and having their enthusiasm and support can be huge.

Our new principal set up a Vision committee to plan for the graduates of 2020 and invited all staff, parents, and students to join voluntarily. As part of those discussions, we kept running into the issue of "time" which is significant in the school community.

She has worked with the district to create time in the schedule for the next school year...and we are looking at completely revamping the schedule the following year to build staff development time into the week. We have seen several schools who do this by having an early release one day a week or a late start, so that teachers have some common staff development time.

This is a real dilemma--change in education works best when it is somewhat grass roots, or when you have some staff on campus that can help "bring everyone in" so to speak.

I think it also involves starting small or with some specific projects with specific campus innovators.

Another great idea I posted about in the previous comment is Charlotte Public Library's 23 Things.
They gave incentives to their staff for participating, and because it's on the web, it's all self paced.

We're thinking of trying a smaller version, like 13 things.

At our campus, our tech coordinator and I (i'm the librarian) have been doing a weekly 20 minute workshop on Wednesday mornings and afternoons that teachers can voluntarily attend. We branded it, (modeled after Project Runway), put up flyers, sent email reminders, and our staff could gain credits by attending. Each session we do one small web 2.0 topic.

We certainly haven't reached everyone, but about a fifth of our faculty has attended and from departments all across the board. Some people come to every session and some to just one. But it's been a way to get some of the tools out there, demonstrate and discuss their use, and let people run with it and we offer support.

Teachers can visualize the possibilities once you show them something, and just doing one "theme" per session makes it easier to digest.

We're considering having a community-wide read this summer for parents, students and teachers as well, with a book like Whole New mind.

It is a struggle though, and there are so many things competing for teacher's attention, and some are still so uncomfortable with the technology. That intimidation factor is huge.

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