I have had the amazing opportunity to spend three mind boggling, life changing days with Angela Maiers. This post will not begin to touch the surface of my learning. Those posts will come in the days, month, and probably years ahead as I ponder on, use, and synthesize my learning.
Angela welcomed, me and fellow learners, into the “New Literacy Club.” Literacy has always been about rallying people around a message. The message is conveyed by reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Educators have inspired their learners to use tools such as books, paper, pens, pencils, chart paper, post-it notes, highlighters, etc… to share their ideas, contribute their voice, and learn from each other and others in the literacy field. Literacy has not and never will change. As digital learners we are just fortunate to have many more tools to express our message and let our voice be heard and our contributions to be made, as well as hear and learn from others. With this set of tools does come a new language to learn. Symbols like: . @ # cc RSS take on a whole new meaning and one we must understand to be literate in the 21st century.
Becoming a member of this “New Literacy Club” is not about buying a lot of hardware. It isn’t about introducing or teaching numerous Web 2.o tools to our students. It isn’t about integrating technology here and there. It is still about the foundations of literacy (reading, writing, speaking and listening). We are just fortunate to have many more tools in our toolbox. Tools to share our message and to be heard by a larger community. But, as Angela stated, “The tools are only as good as the learning and learner they support.” The learning still, and must always start with a purpose in mind. We may just have to reposition that purpose from the things we have to do (or cover) to the way we want students to be.
Usually after I’m inspired by something I have sense of energy. It is usually the time I get the most accomplished on my perpetual to-do list. So, what did I do when I got home today? What did I accomplish? How did I change the world? I TOOK A NAP. I had to physically slow my mind down. I had to step away from my learning and constant thought. My nap wasn’t just a power nap. It started at 5:00 PM, lasted through dinner and ended about 9:00 PM. And, while I know my mind was still spinning in deep sleep, I am now refreshed and ready to move on. What will my next project be? What will I check off my to-do list? Nothing. I plan to relax and curl up with a good book. (Well, even that just changed – instead I spent a half hour talking to a good friend about my week and his.)
As a fairly new blogger in this digital world, I found myself taking notes during the workshop in a different way. I usually do keep a space to record books recommended and I’m sure online booksellers love when I learn of new books to buy. But this time, I found I needed a section for potential blog post ideas. Whether I use that list or synthesize it into something else doesn’t matter. It is my list to ponder. My list to think about. And when an idea is ready to share with the larger community, it may become a blog post or it may become a message I share in face-to-face. It may come in the form of an idea or a reflective question.
As a classroom teacher, I loved watching learning happen through the eyes of my students. As an instructional coach (or someday as an elementary principal) I love watching learning through the eyes of a teacher. I love being able to hold their hand through new learning. I love to let them shift through and try out new ideas. And I love when they have those little AHA moments. The simple, yet profound, moments where they will share the excitement of what their students have done and/or become are what provides the passion to learn and grow myself.
Throughout this week’s learning experience I was fortunate to see this new learning through the eyes of an awesome, compassionate, teacher whose purpose, just like her many colleagues, has been and always will be to advocate for her students and to inspire them. I was able understand areas that were new to her and areas she was ready to take flight and spread her wings. I was able to understand the level of support she will need. I was able to gain a sense of her goals and how she sees this new learning transform into her day-to-day facilitating. I was touched by the simple message of, when given this opportunity, asking her students if they thought being away from them for two days (yes, the third day was on a Saturday) was worth her and THEIR time. I know that this experience, like so many others I’m fortunate to have, will guide me to be the administrator I dream of becoming.
It was a joy to meet others that will carry on this message in their own lives and/or schools and districts. I look forward to hearing about all they try and accomplish. Some have been Twitter friends for a while and others have entered into this wonderful, inspiring, digital community! Please welcome: @mpnes, @HeatherSpetman, @BarbVanderVeen,
@brendaortmann, @ejkinneygohawks, @maryghunt, @svoyles to the world of Twitter as well as a new Twitter friend @PurpleWren already established in the community. It was also a pleasure to see and learn from existing members of my PLN @eolsonteacher, @iateachr @pbuysman, and @mrsdrebs.
Tonight I leave you with a quote Angela shared with us from Seth Godin’s book Linchpin – “You are a genius and the world needs your contribution.” Angela’s message to adults, and students alike, is that the world DEMANDS our contribution.
Blogging is helping me find my voice and that voice will continue to strengthen. I am a work in progress! Thank you for joining me in this journey. I love being on this road with so many inspiring educators and bloggers!
(Note to Angela: I did use that flickr thing (Attribution – HTML) that rocked your world. It worked, so I guess I did it right! Still learning …. )
THANK YOU, Angela! These simple words, or blog post can not begin to express what the past three days has done for me.
Also, thank you Northwest AEA and Prairie Lakes AEA for this opportunity! Your desire to provide educators with these types of opportunities help to transform lives, increase student learning and create positive learning environments for many educators!
(I wonder if 12:20 AM is a bad time to post a new blog. Something tells me it is. But, even if my voice in this post isn’t heard by the larger community – it provided me time to collect my thoughts! Isn’t that what blogging is all about – anyway!)