Normally, I write posts like this on my own blog, but this was the blog I was thinking of in many of the conversations that led to this post, so I’m putting it here. I am now in the midst of NECC, an international education technology conference.
Last night was fantastic, I was out on the river walk with a small group. We started out at the Discovery Anniversary event which was a zoo, but had great food and drinks. In an effort to be somewhere quieter, we moved on down to meet some others at an Irish Pub that had singing. I know that doesn’t sound like it would be quieter, but we were outside, and it was.
An interesting point was made about “well known” edubloggers, and how being out of the classroom affects your perspective. Someone who had moved from classroom, to resource, and back-and-forth between them shared that they thought moving out of the classroom was when their blogging really grew, and they started getting on the whole “change” bandwagon, but they began to forget some essential parts of classroom teaching that can make that difficult and still need to be addressed. Another member piped in that they felt leaving the self-contained elementary class for a P.E./Computer position made going back like starting over from scratch as a teacher. That made me think, have I lost some essential truths of teaching by moving to the lab? Do I need to try to get back in a self-contained class at some point to keep that perspective?
We left some folks behind and moved onto a place for dinner. I had some really stellar conversations there. The question was asked, about who you have in your reader that you disagree with. I shared that some edubloggers do NOT understand why practicing elementary teachers have no patience with some Web 2.0/constructivist/collaborative “critics” because of our experiences with them on discussions around Reading First/What Works, etc. and that this is where we live, in the curriculum areas, and a lot of this has been really problematic for us (there are some really great bloggers like Doug Noon who know those folks and read them thoughtfully, if critically). I’m going to be taking a diet and sculpting my RSS feed soon, so I will need to keep this in mind.
The party added some more folks via twitter, and we moved on for drinks at a bar (I was sticking to soda at this point, in case you were wondering). One member of the party asked me what I was going to use in the classroom, and what I had learned. I told them honestly, I’m still processing my school year, and what I need to change from how I did it. I have to tell you that in talking to all sorts of folks from newbies, to established “names”, the thing I’m hearing is that they are getting a lot socially from this conference, but not so much about pedagogy. I hear things like, the session were mostly already at the level I’m at, but it was nice to see that I’m on the right track, and, this has been the best conference I’ve attend from a social networking perspective, but the worst for learning.
There was a discussion at one point that night about a session in particular, School 2.0: Combining Progressive Pedagogy and 21st-Century Tools, where someone pointed out how a lot of the attendees are not aware of the theory and learning theory, and that we need to be out at the curriculum conferences (like NCTE, etc.) discussing these tools, but there also needs to be more about learning, and theory, and less about tools in the sessions here. We really need to bring them both together. I think this would help edubloggers understand the real boundaries that we live in, in our classrooms. I was discussing that with a primary teacher at a Title One school like my own. There is a very real concern about how to fit things in given the curriculum demands. I didn’t point that person to David Warlick, or Will Richardson for answers, but instead suggested peers like Brian Crosby, Mathew Needleman, and Doug Noon, the first two of whom are working in scripted curriculum schools, but still doing projects. No knock on the first two, but that’s not where the answer to her question is going to be. Who do I rely on for my answers? Are they practioners? Who do I rely on for my ideas? Are they both thinks and practioners?
I spent a lot of time that night in various places talking about my perspective. Now part of it is nice to have people listening to me, but when I have that discussion with “famous” blogger/Web 2.0 personality, it’s for a reason. I am an ambassador for my kids, and my school. That is why I started In Practice, because we need to talk about the specific context of teaching in this environment. I want them to know that. So when I saw someone who is well known and found out that their school is a Title One school I asked them if someone there would be willing to join us at In Practice. I didn’t do it just to have a “famous” name on the author list, but because that name will mean something, and may carry some weight. It’s about being the New Yorker, not People magazine.
This ties into another interesting discussion I had on politics and edublogging. We were discussing the whole Will Richardson teleconference with Lamar Alexander. I discussed my own background which involved a lot of work on politics and especially lobbying and campaigning for libraries, etc. and how I found some efforts that are made in edublogging to be naïve, and that was an example. I was not surprised that Will experienced was used, what I was disappointed about was that he and we were not able to “use” the Senator back, and THAT is what you need to do. Yeah, they are getting your “name” in their conference, but how do you leverage that to get your message out?
Finally, there has been a lot of discussion about social politics and hierarchy here at NECC and in the virtual NECC that I’ve been out of the loop on for a variety of reasons (like attending sessions, and meeting people, hey it’s a convention folks). Let me go back to another discussion I had last night. It was about anonymous blogging, and there was a strong position against it. They said that there were only limited circumstances where that type of blogging is acceptable, when you understand that eventually, names might be revealed, and you have a specific purpose. This is not an anonymous blog, but I’ve left ALL the names out from these conversations for a couple reasons. If I put them in, I would be name dropping, and the focus would be on the personalities, NOT the interesting discussion points. If you recognize yourself in these conversations, thank you. If you don’t like what I said, or have a correction, drop a comment.