The Day After — and the “M” Word for Educators

IMG_0161.JPGIt’s the morning after NECC.  Brenda and I left Atlanta just before Tyson’s keynote (bummer) and after picking up a couple of video dongles for my MacBook (having left mine in the Omni on Sunday morning and discovering that my backup was not compaitble at the spotlight).  I woke up in Charleston around 7:00 and set  out hunting for free wifi and good espresso for fuel.  I found both, after three near misses, and I’m sitting here preparing for a workshop in Columbia tomorrow.

Charleston is a magnificent little city in the low country of South Carolina.  If you want to learn more, read anything (everything) by Pat Conroy.  He’s the reason I became a teacher.  But before I get back to my preps, I’d like to set down some thoughts that were running around in my head early this morning, just as I woke.

I’ve already talked about some of very interesting and powerful qualities of this year’s NECC.  It was, and everyone I talked to agreed,  an extraordinary event.  Read NECC is Almost Too Good on 2¢ Worth and just stop by Hitchhikr’s NECC to read the stream of blogospheric conversations imitating from Atlanta over the past week — and don’t miss the pictures.

Educational technology conferences, and most conferences, are places where you go to learn — where you go to get taught.  Certainly there are open and extremely valuable conversations in the halls, and this is a quality that edubloggers (even in the U.S.) have been talking about for some time.  But, primarily, it is for sessions to go sit in and learn and think and then share when and where you can. 

At NECC07, for many of us, the session were no longer primary.  They were important and they were essential.  But for me and many I talked to, it was the conversations that happened in the hall, and especially in the Blogger Cafe that was where the real learning, experimenting, and discovery took place.  Certainly this did not happen with everyone, or perhaps not even the majority.  It might even be an echo chamber of bloggeratery.  But there was energy there and I sense that the energy was a big part of this event and that it will continue to expand.

What I got up this morning thinking, wishing, hoping, was that this was, perhaps, that we are seeing a maturing of the profession, where educators are gathering, face-2-face, and over the airways, to teacher, learn, share, experiment, and explore, respecting each other and ourselves and our ability to grow our knowledge, our experience, and our mission — beyond many of the barriers that persist.

Wow!  That was pretty heavy for a day I’m supposed to be taking off…

9 thoughts on “The Day After — and the “M” Word for Educators”

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  2. Yes, maturing of the profession, definitely! But isn’t it also an issue of reaching critical mass for in-depth change to happen? Otherwise, the soooo interesting thinkers and educators that my RSS feed collects every day risk staying like diamonds in the rough (and perhaps marginal-thinkers to others). Any educator (and educational policymaker) can confront systemic barriers by reflecting on personal understanding and practice, in relationship to the “state of the art” in education (i.e. what we know today about: how the brain works, literacy in this day and age, our kids learning differently than what we – I’m a young boomer – saw/did then, etc.). This introspection can thus validate/confirm/negate our representation of our mission and role. It’s like “upgrading” our professional thinking and belief system… one educator at a time.

  3. Dear Dave,

    You do not know how appreciative I am to you and many others who allowed me to attend NECC virtually and vicariously.I had family obligations which prohibited me from attending after 10 years of almost perfect attendance. I know I missed a lot, but not nearly as much as if I did not have the blogs to read.
    But, Dave, I must tell you that even though you felt a maturing of the profession and that there are so many teachers able to converse in the same language, I must tell you that from the workshops that I conduct over the school year (about 50 per year) – I am not seeing the maturation. I am seeing teachers willing to try, to listen, and to even jump in and take risks – but where they are now and what they want are interactive websites and ways that they can have their kids on the computers practicing skills and producing projects such as power point and kid picks. When I ask if they have heard of NECC, there is almost total silence, and many of the following questions are also met with an unknown response: United Streaming? Online collaborative projects, webquests,Marco Polo (Thinkfinity) – for sure, blogging, podcasting, social bookmarking and I could go on and on. They are open and excited when I present these things and I know that they leave enthusiastically willing to try all of the things that I present – but, Dave, they do not come to the workshop having even heard of what is available to them. The community that is reading the blogs, attending NECC, participating in collaborative projects, is not the majority from my perspective. I have to meet them where they are – should I be jumping ahead? I am trying to redesign some of my workshop using the basis of the new NETS – but they still need some of the basic classroom uses for the Internet. If you have the time, would you comment as to what you would offer the classroom teacher who has little experience with Web2.0 but still needs to learn about Web 1.0? Thanks.

  4. Dave,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Your comment from earlier this week that resonated with me was “You can’t turn around here without learning.”. How nice would it be for students to utter that phrase about their schools!

    I think for this to happen, we need to start structuring schools (maybe high schools to start) like conventions. Give students choices of many sessions that they can go to. A chance to collaborate, share ideas, congregate and communicate. The goal of teachers in schools will be to keep the sessions interesting and engaging and pertinent enough to get students ot go to them, but also to keep them on task.

    I also wonder with so much input, how can adults make sense and process in an environment like the one you were in, let alone kids?!?

    The New York Times did an article last week on “clearing the brain” suing yoga-like techniques to have students relax and clear their thoughts before tacking issues because they get so much input all day. Did you take time to “clear your brain”, and if so, how did you do it?



  5. Not only is it jaw-dropping to have you say hello, but I think I would really enjoy talking with Brenda. She must be an amazing person. I will have to save up $$ to attend a future NECC just to meet her!

  6. Can we change the “M” for maturing to a “C” for connecting???

    The idea of a “maturing profession” seems to carry a negative connotation indicating that educators were “immature” before. You may not have intended for that to be implied (I don’t think you did, I enoy your writing), but it may be more beneficial to let go of ideas that can create such divisiveness and focus on words that bring us all together with mutual respect.

  7. Hi again Dave,
    I’d like to refer for a minute to another statement from your post, “educators are gathering, face-2-face, and over the airways, to teacher, learn, share, experiment, and explore, respecting each other and ourselves and our ability to grow our knowledge, our experience, and our mission — beyond many of the barriers that persist.” This is really fantastic, and possibly THE KEY to getting ourselves in a position to address our educational crisis.

    I’m in the infancy state of blogging, but I’d like to share with you the Microsoft Channel 10 post entitled “An educational crisis”. Sorry I can’t provide a link right now. These ideas have been germinating for me for a while, but I was prompted by a very personal educational issue to do some research, and just happened to stumble on that post one day during the search.

    Anyway, we may be reaching a stage where it is becoming imperative to address the issues rather quickly, and I believe that that is going to take the dedication of everyone involved at every level. This is why I believe it is so important not to create divisions, but rather to build bridges that can better connect us.

    Of course, “bridges” do sometimes get walked on, but we must take care that they (or we) are not broken, or we (or they) may not be able to continue on our journey.

    (I don’t mean to imply an “us” or “them” division, so imagine something else)

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