I love NECC. I love it and I hate it. I come home after four intense days of lectures, workshops, debates, and playgrounds, all fired up with the latest and greatest means of teaching better through technology.
Then I return to my school and try to share what I’ve learned. Let’s face it; it’s a foreign language to most teachers. What I struggle with most is guiding teachers to the tools they’ll need to implement a 21st teaching pedagogy, tools that will help them connect to other teachers and classrooms. Just when I feel that I’ve reached a point where teachers don’t roll their eyes or snicker when I say “wiki” or “blog,” I am confronted with new tools. Do I dare introduce Twitter as a tool for learning? Is now the best time to share Digg, Facebook, VoiceThread, or GoogleDocs with teachers who are busy preparing for a new school year? Our Tablet PC program is starting its fifth year. Is now the ideal moment to tell them we should be exploring the power of Netbooks and handhelds in the classrooms? Does it undermine the legitimacy of these new, powerful tools if I send out a tweet to all my peeps in the
The reality is that the pace of technology far exceeds the pace of change in most schools. However, the thing that is most constant, our mission and our purpose, is that we seek out every possible way for all our students to learn in a way that is both powerful and meaningful. On that we all agree. So when I speak with teachers, I don’t lead with the latest app or cool new gadget, I lead with learning. What’s the most challenging thing to teach? What’s the most difficult concept for students to grasp? What resource might help turn the corner and make the lesson come alive? That’s when good teachers are ready to ask the question: “what’s new?” When I lead with learning, it is easier to translate “geek speak” into a language we all understand.