Networks vs. Tools

I’ve been wanting to talk about the importance of helping teacher embrace and participate in rich, learning networks vs. bombarding them with the tools. However, Kelly Christopherson has done this for me.

Showing other teachers all the tools isn’t what is needed. Helping them develop relationships and make connections is. We can show and demonstrate, rave and mandate; it will not bring others to question, grow and adopt. We have many examples of educators who are beginning to delve into using these tools. Overwhelming them with the possibilities just pushes them away. Helping them to build their own networks, seeking out teachers who, like themselves, are testing the water and encouraging them to continue in their own lifelong learning will empower them to develop even more. Not all of them will see the benefits of all the tools they encounter but the relationships they develop during this process will go further, I believe, to bringing about powerful change than any tech person can hope to do by themselves.

This is one of the important ideas that I am trying to extend in my Grad course. Read the rest of this excellent post here.

5 thoughts on “Networks vs. Tools

  1. Pingback: Pages tagged "relationships"

  2. Great points! Just as I have long believed that our students learn in and through relationships, so do their teachers! Building a network of educators with whom I have access to ideas, thoughts, resources, innovative approaches, encouragement has revolutionized my teaching practices and approaches to pedagogy. But along the way, I am also developing relationships with others that gives me back much more than information, but a human experience. You have given me some new ideas here. Thanks! Will check out Kelly’s blog post…..

  3. I found this blog entry interesting as many of the papers that I have written in my MED have been written with the thought of educator buy in. When I say buy in, I mean buy in by educators to new programs, technologies, instructional strategies. I see many, many disengaged children in school every day. I have had the opportunity to work at the system level, providing training and instructional support to improve literacy outcomes for students. I agree with part of this post. Simply showing teachers new tools isn’t what is needed. However, I think that it is an important element. I work with a number of educators who don’t know what many of these tools are. (Actually I can relate to them because until recently, I did not know what many of the tools were). So I think some showing or demonstration must happen and I think we need to remember that just like the students we teach, the adults we work with have many different learning styles.

    My present role as a vice principal allocates .3 of the week to administration time. I have been using some of the administrative time to provide instructional leadership in the area of technology. It begins by a little demonstration of a tool (based on the interests and needs of the group I am working with). That I think is essential. However, of more or equal importance I think, is timely support. The folks I work with mess around on their own a bit and then design a learning project. I work as a team with the teacher to introduce the technology to the students. I guess you might say I am utilizing Vygotzky’s idea of the gradual release of responsibility to the teacher because I am available to help them as they encounter difficulty. I think one of the most important aspects that I model is that I am not an expert. I don’t have nice little handouts telling them what to do. Instead I show a tiny bit and then model learning with the students and teacher as we work out difficulties together.

    As I reflect and think about what has happened in my school this year, I would have to say the teachers are thankful to have support at the school level. The idea of relationships is another key. By relationships, I think we need to think further than simply other teachers trying out the technology. I think that for me both students and teachers play a key role. Relationships form as we work together as a team to learn more. The students are the vital real world aspect of this process and my goal as a teacher is to see improved outcomes (for me literacy and numeracy are a key).

    Previous to this year, I worked at the system level to try to nurture change in instructional strategies. I got into the administrative role because I believed that I could be much more effective at the school level. As an administrator, I place a high priority on supporting teachers in the use of developmentally appropriate instructional strategies. This year I think I have a better understanding of how complicated this is. Last year, it seemed relatively easy to give workshops and expect folks to embrace and develop new ideas. However, as I deal with the day to day happenings in the school day and year, I realize that it is not as easy as I had thought. Currently, we do not have enough of this type of support available to our teachers. Learning cannot be packaged and placed into a nice little package.

    From the parent perspective, I see my two boys completing highschool pretty much in the same manner as I did thirty years ago. I hear Stats Can reports ( saying that a large percentage of our First Nations population in Saskatchewan cannot read and write at a functional level.

    I believe it is time to provide adequate instructional support for teachers….support that ensures our students are literate when they leave school. I believe that technology must be a powerful tool in this process. We need some “sit and get sessions” but of equal or more importance is just in time support available at the school level. I believe that web 2.0 tools could be a tremendous benefit and I look forward to using some of the tools with my students and providing instructional support to teachers as I encourage them to embrace this technology.

  4. I agree that we can overwhelm teachers with too many tools. Many teachers are a little shy about embracing collaboration and technology and if they feel like it is going to take too much time to sort through it all, they’ll maintain status quo. I try to encourage teachers to find one collaborative group they want to dedicate their time to and experience what a difference it can make, rather than signing up for everything and getting nothing out of it. Personally, I have one collaborative group that gets 80% of my attention, but I also monitor other groups using technology like Twitter and Second Life. What I get from that one collaborative group in the first 10 minutes anytime I’m part of a group of educators is more valuable to me than any number of hours of professional development I can attend.

  5. I am a perfect example of a teacher being overwhelmed with too many tools, so I have decided that I will learn 3 key tools and incorporate them into my school, so I learn them well. The three tools being, blogs, wiki’s and youtube. I want to be able to use video to enhance my class wiki and our staff web blog. I came into this course with very little tech ability and being one of the last hold outs for having internet at home (that will change) and now I am able to connect to people and I even had my first comment on my blog from outside the class community, very exciting!

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