Goal #1 – Build Community

Goal:  Work to build multiple and overlapping communities of learners in our district who have knowledge, expertise and/or interest in the hardware and software and services that our district is supporting.  Help those communities to begin to learn from each other and to support each other in their teaching and learning.  As best as I can, document and share the learning and stories of the community.

I’m aware of so much potential in our classrooms and schools, and so many new tools that are coming online in the district that can be used to help students and teachers create deep and meaningful opportunities for learning and reflection in our classrooms.  These are tools like laptops (three new elementary schools, opening in the fall, will have laptops for every teacher; many more schools are investing in laptops for some teachers to be used with) interactive whiteboards, and/or clickers and document cameras, software like ActivStudio, which we’re trying to standardize on across the district, and services like Moodle, which powers our St. Vrain Virtual Campus.

There are a multitude of projects and programs that already meet and discuss some of these issues – but there’s nowhere to go to see all of those conversations, or for folks who aren’t already connected to those groups to have the opportunity to find ways into the conversations.  I also know that, with so many resources out there, we need to do a good job of aggregating all of that stuff somewhere (or somewheres) and then helping people to find that space.

Also, if we can work to build and/or sustain these communities, we can work to develop leadership on instructional issues in our district.  Better yet, we can help teachers to teach teachers.  That’s a good thing. I believe very strongly that the answers to most of the important questions facing schools and teachers and learning and students aren’t going to come out of school districts – they’re going to come out of classrooms.  It’s my job to help get the stories out there and the people connected.

8 thoughts on “Goal #1 – Build Community

  1. Hello, Bud,

    One of the things we are working on this summer involves mentoring a Google Summer of Code project for a memetracker —

    A simple aggregation site, or an aggregation site extended via a memetracker, would go a long way towards providing a place “to go to see all of those conversations, or for folks who aren’t already connected to those groups to have the opportunity to find ways into the conversations. I also know that, with so many resources out there, we need to do a good job of aggregating all of that stuff somewhere (or somewheres) and then helping people to find that space.”

    There are a variety of ways to skin this cat — the critical issue (as I see it, anyways) is how to choose what gets included, and what doesn’t.

    And I’m glad to see the conversation moving beyond tools, and into behavior that supports learning.

    Cheers,

    Bill

  2. These last few days have solidified the need to build quality, trusting relationships with those we work closely with or for. Building the “bridging capital” (links) into “bonding capital” (trust) is critical to these communities. I think that one thing we can really do is to educate teachers and students to learn how to know who their “people” are within any given network or community. If we can do that, I think it doesn’t matter what they use to connect. They’ll find a way to connect, learn and share with others.

    Brian C. Smiths last blog post..NECC – Pre-Conference

  3. What a powerful and necessary stance that all tech-leaders need to heed! What we do with teachers (and with students) should never be about the tools; it should focus on what the tools allow us to accomplish. Building communities of learners who grow together and support one another is essential. No amount of formal professional development or tool-based instruction will ever replace the need for teachers to communicate with and learn from one another.

    In my current position as Faculty Professional Growth Specialist (I know…what a title…) for a local school, my job is to help facilitate those connections as well as to provide “just in time” assistance when teachers are ready to try something new, but don’t quite know how to begin. Most importantly, I get to be that link who helps to connect them to one another and to others outside the walls of our school – something teachers truly want, but don’t always have the time or the skill to do on their own.

    In my previous job, we developed a program that attempted to provide teachers with the time and the connections to build those communities within their school. While there, I developed a presentation about the program that included video I collected from teacher interviews. Hearing these teachers talk about the power of community building is inspiring.

    You can view the video at http://it.escambia.k12.fl.us/profdev/podcasts/fetc2006st.mov

    Michelle

    Michelle Bourgeoiss last blog post..Plurking your PLN

  4. Bud, I agree with your view here and particularly with your choice of words. Phillip Schlechty’s “Shaking up the schoolhouse” includes a section about the importance of building community. Schlechty lays out a number of what he calls seismic shifts and one is that our sense of community is no longer delineated by a neighborhood. As such, schools can no longer depend on a mission to serve a community that is easily defined and identified. Instead, he argues that we must BUILD communnities to which people want to belong. I’ve linked the book below. Great post!

    http://www.ncacasi.org/jsi/2002v3i1/schoolhouse

  5. I definitely agree with the prediction that most innovations using technology in the classroom will come from the classrooms themselves. They will come through teachers experimenting with different tools and in many cases using these tools in unconventional ways that were not how the developers intended for them to be used. This will be similar to the way that most other technologies mature: Early adopters gravitate toward a product and play around with it, many times finding alternative uses for the product.

    The most important thing that can be done to facilitate this natural growth is to create as many channels as possible (or one really good channel) for teachers who are experimenting with these tools in their classrooms to communicate, collaborate, discuss, and share their experiences.

    Steve Kinneys last blog post..The case for open communication

  6. I definitely agree with the prediction that most innovations using technology in the classroom will come from the classrooms themselves. They will come through teachers experimenting with different tools and in many cases using these tools in unconventional ways that were not how the developers intended for them to be used. This will be similar to the way that most other technologies mature: Early adopters gravitate toward a product and play around with it, many times finding alternative uses for the product.

    The most important thing that can be done to facilitate this natural growth is to create as many channels as possible (or one really good channel) for teachers who are experimenting with these tools in their classrooms to communicate, collaborate, discuss, and share their experiences.

    Steve Kinneys last blog post..The case for open communication

  7. I appologize if this seem like a hijack, or spam but I think it will help with the community building you all are talking about.
    We have just launched our community building website called http://www.pleasebringit.com and it allows communities to ask for things they need. it makes it easy for your friends, family, school, community groups, or coworkers to contribute toward events, fundraisers, parties, or holidays … anytime someone can bring something, volunteer, or help out.

    I hope this allows some schools and communities reach their goals by getting a better turnout.
    There is a free version to try
    Thanks,

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