View from the District: Sharing ‘Pockets of Innovation’

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May 9th, 2011
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Week 4 with Andy McKiel

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It was about four years ago that I left my own classroom to venture into a new role as a Curriculum Coordinator.  My transition into this position was very smooth, and I attribute this to the fact that I was given the opportunity to pursue my passion – sharing meaningful ways to infuse technology across the curriculum.  Having the ability to connect and collaborate with teachers and administrators in 26 different schools provides me with many great learning opportunities, and it allows me to share my learning with many people in many places.

After only the first few weeks in my new position, there were already many aspects of this new position that I just loved.  The fact that teachers wanted to meet with me to plan innovative projects and events helped me to realize that I really did have ideas that were worth sharing.  The fact that administrators were booking me to provide workshops on a broad range of topics helped build my confidence to stand before a large group of adults and facilitate a conversation.  But what really got me excited about the possibilities that existed with this new job assignment was the fact that I could step into so many different classrooms to watch the learning unfold.

Classroom teachers need more opportunities to meet with and learn from their colleagues.  The time that teachers spend working with each other adds so much value to the time they spend with their own students.  We should not be teaching in isolation – rather, we should strive to find ways to open the doors to other classrooms…

Image Credit: ‘Classroom

When I taught in my own classroom, I was also fortunate to have the opportunity to work closely with several other teachers and many groups of students throughout the school.  Sharing my own ideas with other teachers and, more importantly, gaining insight into what they teach and how they teach has helped to shape the kind of educator I’ve become.  What I’ve learned from those professionals with whom I’ve worked has made me a better teacher, and I pass this knowledge on to other educators in lots of different ways.

I thought I had the best possible situation – teaching in my own classroom & collaborating with colleagues throughout my school.  But then this new door opened and I was provided with the opportunity to look beyond the brick walls that confined these learning experiences within my school.

Something clicked for me when I discovered the power of visiting teachers in their classrooms in different schools.  I realized that this was the key to being a better teacher and a better learner.  I could see plenty of examples of what teachers were doing in their classrooms to engage their students.  It became evident that there were so many ways to foster a strong sense of community within any classroom.  And I realized that there were so many incredible things happening in other schools that I had no idea about – and I couldn’t wait to share these ideas with my colleagues…

Anyone who’s had the opportunity to visit different classrooms and watch other teachers work their magic will confirm that this is a rich learning experience.  You come to realize that there are ‘pockets of innovation’ in classrooms all over that you’d like to highlight and share.  The biggest challenge is to find effective ways to share these success stories.

This is just one of the things that I love about Edmodo – the fact that it’s just SO easy to connect with other teachers in other buildings to highlight and share ideas and information.  This is one of the key features that I’d like to see our teachers using within Edmodo.  Sure, our teachers can connect with hundreds of other educators around the world, and some of them will!  But I wanted our teachers to start local – I wanted them to belong to a network of teachers within our school district so that they could share with, and learn from, each other.

To accomplish this task, I simply created an Edmodo group and asked teachers who have been using Edmodo to join.  We currently have over 30 members in our ‘SJSD Edmodo Leaders’ group, and this space provides all of us with the means to connect and collaborate.  Sure, there are several teachers within my district who are using Edmodo with their students and have opted not to join this group, and that’s okay.  This group exists merely as a resource for those teachers who feel that there’s value in connecting and sharing and participation should not be mandatory.
Encouraging participation in this Edmodo group really serves a dual purpose – not only does it give me a relevant space to post information and suggestions for our teachers who are just getting started with Edmodo, it also makes it easy for our teachers to share their own success stories with each other.

In the coming weeks, I’ll share some of the stories that have grown out of the increasing use of this collaborative space within Edmodo.  I will highlight some of the ways that I share resources with this group of teachers, and you’ll also read about some of their success stories using Edmodo.

It took stepping out of my classroom and into a completely different role for me to fully realize the benefits of connecting and collaborating with other educators.  But with Edmodo, any teacher can achieve the same results in the click of a button…


One Response to “View from the District: Sharing ‘Pockets of Innovation’”

  1. I appreciate your commitment to your teachers-We have support like this in our district and it makes all the difference when stepping out of your chalkboard-zone if you know that you have someone there to help.

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