One final post from Bianca – but we made her come to the US to post it! Stay tuned Monday to hear from our featured blogger team on the floor at ISTE!!!
So this is it, hey? The final blog post in a series of what one of my students calls ‘brain vomits’, haha, because that’s what these have really been for me. A way of me trying to share my inner monologue, my thought-process that inevitably winds up being punctuated by the words ‘teach’, ‘learn’, ‘technology’, ‘change’ and yes … ‘edmodo’. So what do I have to share with you today?
Well, my aim is to share a couple of anecdotes. I always love to read about a person’s true experiences with things. My current writing and thinking mentor, George Orwell, is the master of anecdotes and clear prose. This is my goal today.
As I write this post I sit in a room that has been the sleeping place of (at least) many hundreds of individuals, couples and families. It might even be thousands. In this room dreams have been dreamt, arguments passionately argued, tears cried, laughs outrageously laughed and thoughts thought. I look out the double-paned window at planes landing gracefully, full of excited and anxious faces. LAX is beautiful in the morning light, even if it is dulled by a band of cloud.
Yesterday afternoon my family and I flew in LA from Sydney, Australia.
As we waited for the ‘trolley’ (a word I barely understood when the concierge said it to me!) to Manhattan Beach, two very attractive women sauntered over our way. With a red-lipped smile, one of the women began talking to me in rushed, fluent sentences. My smile complemented hers but my brain ran behind trying to comprehend what she was so happily speaking about. Her tongue dripped Portuguese. My ears can only hear English – and as I’m starting to realise, that English is Australian English! With a shake of my head and the words ‘I speak English’, this stunning figure nodded her head and the two women disappeared into the night, laughing and swaying as they headed down the street.
This small moment of cultural disconnection got me thinking. Is this who I am? The smiling kid with the rushed sentences and unfamiliar language? When I speak excitedly about technology to my colleagues, are their brains racing to comprehend my words and meaning? It’s easy to be caught up in your own small world of ideas, experiences, visions for the future. But when we try to bring these to others – especially overworked teachers – its important to (re)consider your mode of communication. How do you bridge the divide between your techno-language fluency and the fact that your colleagues may have minimal to no grasp of that language themselves? Maybe we try too hard.
I’m one for despondency (see my blog for proof). I know that might run counter to the smiling image many see. But over the last week or two, I’ve bared witness to the blossoming of ideas and suggestions that I have made in regards to what I see as the necessary changes for schooling – especially at my school. This runs back to the title of this post, ‘be the change you want to see’. It’s not an original catch-phrase and Orwell would certainly mock me for reusing a dead aphorism, but I’d like to continue with it anyway. Why? Because it has been my silent motto for the last 6 months and it has proved successful.
I nicknamed myself ‘the Do It Yourself Teacher’ for this blog because earlier this year I decided that if change was to occur, it had to start with me. After giving 12 months to ‘leading’ technology change at my school, I felt stale and fraudulent. Teachers were busy, their interest in my new ideas about teaching waned, they needed to move on and get through the content. As a natural reaction to this lack of interest in me (ah, the egoism!), I recoiled into myself. My classroom would become my revolutionary playground. And it has. My classes look nothing like those I ‘taught’ five years ago. And why should they? Life doesn’t look like it did five years ago! (Just look at your mobile phone for proof of that!).
On Tuesday of this week I was asked to show edmodo to a faculty in my school. They want to use it in the static ‘course’ way … and luckily I had blogged about that for edmodo the week before! It was cool seeing their eyes open, their heads nodding in comprehension. I had given them the power to use technology in their own way. What’s better? They came to me. I didn’t force it down their throats.
That same afternoon in a meeting with my own faculty, my head teacher told us that next year we will be doing Project Based Learning with Year 7. He said that we needed to be doing more of this style of teaching if we’re ever to really help our students learn. They need to learn how to learn. Cool, huh? I offered to show my fellow English teacher how I use PBL in my classroom and how edmodo can facilitate this style of teaching. So when I return from this wonderful big country – USA – I will be presenting on PBL and technology to a receptive audience – my people!
Change happens. You’ve just got to be the change you want to see.
To be honest, a lot of who I am and what I do wouldn’t be possible without edmodo. I get jokingly called the ‘Edmodo Queen’ back home in Australia. It is a tool that has facilitated some of the greatest professional changes for me. And since I am going to actually meet (in flesh and blood) the edmodo peeps in a couple of days, I’m not going to get all sentimental in this post. I just want to say ‘WOOHOO’ to edmodo for keeping up the good fight. You guys are making the changes happen. Thanks!