I’m on the plane heading to Washington D.C. on a circuitous route to Portland, Oregon to present at the IntegratED conference sponsored by OETC. I’m sitting next to a young mom and her one-year old daughter in a very cramped space. I think she’s relieved that I work with kids.
I’m honored to be asked to present with a cast of characters I follow and admire greatly. When I look at the topics offered at #pdx13, I’m impressed by the creative and unique nature of every one of them. As I often do, I am focusing my energies in Portland on school leaders as the power of social media needs to invade the minds and practices of Principals, Curriculum Coordinators, Superintendents, and all educational leaders.
I’ve been fortunate to experience the Internet from its early days before Mosaic and the browser when FTPing, Veronica and Archie were the rage. The Internet was exciting then with our 2400 baud modems as I could tap into the AP Newswire or the UNH Library catalog by simply using my AOL or CompuServe account. The bar was a lot lower then but I felt like every day on the Internet was an adventure as I tapped on my Mac LC III. There were risks. Against my wife’s sage advice, I began paying all our bills online with a very (as it turned out) unstable service and one day every bill was paid three times. Just a few “checks” bounced. Yikes.
It’s an exciting time again in 2013 as learning can happen for both adults and students 24/7, continuously and with very little effort logistically. I am most encouraged by the potential of collaboration and sharing among educators. I see an inclusiveness and respect among all levels of educators not evident before the dawning of social media. We have also inadvertently created “rock stars” in our field. We truly have to guard against hero worship for those of us who have high Twitter follower counts, tons of daily hits on our blogs, and regular awards with badges to be placed on our web sites. Nonetheless, the primary credo is sharing, collaboration, and caring.
In fact, what makes IntegratED unique is its priority on hands-on learning for the participants. This may appear obvious but the truth is that even among us so-called progressive educators, we can easily wax-on about what we know with little regard for what our participants are actually learning. Are we speaking to an audience or are we sharing with like minded educators? Are we the sage on the stage or the facilitators of great learning? Have we met our goal if we flew through every PowerPoint slide or are we more concerned with our participants’ understanding?
This is not necessarily easy you know. I was raised as a performer of sorts given my musical background so it is so natural to take on the showman persona. I’ll be fighting that this weekend.
What has been the hallmarks of superior professional development in your experience? Please comment and let’s get a conversation going.