Badges. They’re Still Not What I Thought They Were.

I’ve been working lately on some resources related to telling stories about the work that the Badges Team of the New Pathways Initiative has inspired and/or been influenced by. I’ve written some about the team and our work – but not enough. I need to do that more. But what I want to capture right now is a little thing, one thing that I’ve been missing in some of my work on badging.

I spent an hour yesterday listening to Deanna and Liz and Vickie talk about the work they’ve done at the Morehead Writing Project to build an online Summer Institute.  It’s modeled after their traditional Invitational Summer Institute, a multi week summer experience for teachers focusing on writing and teaching and classroom inquiry. Now in its eighth year, the Online SI is chugging right along as a healthy online experience. But Deanna also mentioned that she uses badges as a way of helping the community of a class develop. In a way, she uses them as props or lubricant to help the classes she facilitates pay attention to each other. They give gratitude via badges. They point out things they might otherwise not notice. She’s written an awful lot about badges and how she uses them. Here’s a good place to start if you want to read more.

Yet another reminder to me that the value in badges has very little to do with the credentials, sometimes, and an awful lot to do with the behavior they help describe and make visible.

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On Turning 39

I’m writing tonight from a room at the National Writing Project’s Resource Development Retreat in Denver. I’ve been here the last couple of days, working to build some resources and support some other folks to get things made. Several of the NWP’s initiatives and projects are represented here, and there’re folks working on making assignments better, sharing how they’re doing things, and reaching for a little more dissemination of the work that’s going on in classrooms around the country.

Oh, and today?  It’s my 39th birthday.

I can think of few places I’d rather be on my birthday than with the folks and the organization that has done so much for me and my students across my varied career as a teacher, a consultant, an IT professional, a library administrator, and a writer and speaker about technology. Tonight, we’re gathered together to encourage each other to get some writing done. So we’re sitting around conference rounds typing away as fast as we can. Writing alone. Together1.

This blog’s getting old, and so am I.  It’s been more than twelve years since I adopted, mostly by accident, the online identity of “Bud the Teacher.” And I’ve switched careers a couple of times since then. I wondered if it was time to drop this space, to say so long and start fresh somewhere else. I’ve made new spaces a couple of times, but they never stuck.

I’m still a teacher, even if the folks I’m teaching might not consider themselves “students.” I think I always will be. And I still am nowhere close to being done learning, which is what a teacher does, right up there in front of everybody2

So Bud the Teacher is still who I am, even if he was someone I never quite meant to be.

On this, the start of my 39th year, I want to write a bit about what I’m thinking about lately, what’s keeping me busy, and what I want to spend the last year of this decade and the first year of the next on. I want to try to push through the awkwardness of not knowing how to write in this space so much lately.

I’m going to learn how to blog again. Again.

I don’t blog like I used to. I don’t like that. I’d like this next year to see a little more of me.

I’ve been writing, certainly, and will never stop, but lots of my writing of late has gone into envelopes and mailboxes, as I’ve tried to work on being a better corresponder with friends and family. I just haven’t been writing here. Again, I’m hoping to change that.

The next couple of posts will be snapshots from my world right now.

  1. There are also silly hats. I do not understand this, but it seems to be working, so I’m going with it. []
  2. Though more and more now, I teach and love to learn through budgets and proposals and coaching infrastructure. Frequently from the back of the room. []
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