cc licensed ( BY NC ) flickr photo shared by Toban Black
A while ago, I wrote a blog post entitled Do we have a professional obligation to share? In this post I stated (and it is pretty sad that I am quoting myself) that:
People who know me know that I love to hear stories. I love it when somebody shares something that they are doing in their classroom. Even if I don’t think it ‘adds value’ to my life, it is still fun to hear. I am also an ‘idea manipulator’. I will see or hear about an idea that somebody else is implementing with their kids and modify it to suit my needs.The whole post (which was pretty bland to be honest) explored the notion of sharing, but I want to talk about what I mean by an 'idea manipulator'. As discussed last week, I had an in depth conversation with my principal about various issues and he talked about this philosophy of idea manipulation. The world is such a connected place and I can easily access knowledge / expertise of somebody else at a very quick pace. If I don't know how to teaching something, or I think that somebody else can explain it better, I have the power to find that knowledge somewhere.
Whilst I don't think that anybody could argue that educators have a moral obligation to share, do we do it enough? When I attend conferences now, I am not really interested to much in the 'how to' sessions. If it is a presenter (such as Mark Staines who is coming to my school on Thursday afternoon to do a session on digital storytelling) I will go to help develop my practice but as a general rule of thumb, I avoid these sessions like the plague. Unfortunately there is still a huge need to deliver 'how to' sessions and I find myself delivering these type of sessions whenever I give PD. What I am really interested in is exploring people's pedagogy - what worked for them, why did it work, what failed, what they would do differently.
So how can we foster and encourage more people to contribute to the community of we? Obviously blogging is one way. I am on a bit of a blogging crusade at the moment and I am glad that I am. Another way is writing for a professional journal. Beryl Exley recently delivered a series of literacy PD sessions to our staff. After discussions with her, she has asked me to write a series of articles for different journals. At first, I wasn't so sure. But upon further reflection, I thought 'What the heck.....I blog and share anyway!' Another method is email. If I see a good link or hear about it, I share it as widely as I can. Like most staff, we have a generic email address that sends messages to all members of staff. I use this to 'flick on' any things that come across my stream.
But what I really want it to get inspired by other peoples ideas and manipulate them to suit my own purposes. If I am not a connected educator, there is no way that I can possibly do this and therefore am doing a dis justice to the students under my care.