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Why Do You Ask?

From asking questions that require an answer To asking questions that require a conversation.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

2 Web 2.0 or Not 2 Web 2.0 - That = ?

Edubloggers make me angry!  They have too much to say.  I can't handle it all.  I get confused.

This morning, I read Ray Schroeder's Educational Technology post "Teachers Told To Be Wary Online" from the BBC.

I read the realities, like this one...

Concerns were raised about teachers contacting pupils by e-mail, or communicating through social networking sites such as Bebo or Facebook.

Some fear that it could lead to the kind of accusations that have ruined careers in the past.

Teachers in Scotland have been asked to adhere to a new code of conduct.

Later, one of the teachers says...

There has to be a balance between building a rapport with pupils, but also maintaining a distance and a level of formality.

There is always an element of naivety, particularly with those who are new to the profession, but this new code will benefit us and protect us.

I can't argue with this reasoning.  Some teachers simply aren't able to distinguish between the need for building both "rapport" and "formality" with their students. [By the way, I have finally found a word I like to substitute for "professional" when it applies to teachers.  The British folks have come to my rescue.]

But then, Wesley Fryer, being the terrific learner he is, decides to take notes on Kevin Honeycutt's keynote at ESSDACK.  Hi Tammy!  Wes does a great job of "topic sentencing" presentations.  Here are a few that hit me...

This whole business of school is about relationships: connecting with kids and making them superstars.

Hw are you going to win me?
- the relationship is key

Want to find the best teacher in a building?
- often the one who is in trouble
- the one who is not afraid to get snot on them

when the human brain is on survival mode, it has a hard time learning
- the only way to help a child like that learn is to build a relationship and create a safe space

kids we teach today are living in a different world
- they are playing on digital playgrounds we didn’t play on
- we’ve got to get there so they are not alone

Do you see my problem?  Can you synthesize the two and be comfortable? 

On the one hand, teachers need to protect themselves from obvious setups that students will bring their way.  Look at all the Out-Of-Context, Student-Edited YouTube videos.  Search for "Angry Teacher" on YouTube and see the mess. 

Remember, some kids lie in order to get what they want.  What they want is the same as what some adults want...they want power and control of their life.  One way to feel they are in control, is to control the lives of others.  Students know they control the school in the new era of teachers are guilty until proven guiltier...teachers are never innocent in the 21st century.  So we must protect ourselves.  But this sets up an adversarial relationship...not good.

On the other hand, if we are to reach the students who are forced into our classrooms (and we are forced to teach) then building rapport, developing relationships, and letting them know we will meet them where they are so we can take them where they need to be is very high on the priority list for the effective teacher.

As I type this, my son comes in asking about pedagogy questions for his GACE test on Saturday.  What method of teaching is the best in a certain situation?  Theories abound, curriculums written (and sold en masse), and ultimately it comes down to knowing all of them, applying them when the need arises, and being comfortable with how you approach the art of teaching 21st century students.  

Funny how things still come back to the basics of the Greek aphorism γνῶθι σαυτόν Know Thyself, and from Shakespeare's Hamlet as Polonius prepares to send his son into the world - To Thine Own Self, Be True.

Teachers - If you know yourself, know your strengths and weaknesses, and are true to yourself (thus avoiding uncomfortable situations) you will be fine.  In other words, if the idea of social networks makes you uncomfortable, uneasy, or concerned in any way - don't use it in any way.  To Your Own Self, Be True

Just don't tell those of us who are comfortable with these tools that we can't or shouldn't use them.  Or worse, that we're misguided.  Trust me, I keep all my digital conversations archived.  I seldom enter a meeting without a recorder.  I'm comfortable with my approach.  Teachers wonder why I want video equipment in my class - perhaps it's more than just for podcasting...perhaps it is as much for protection as it is for educating.

Yelnic. “Blaisdell Center.” Yelnic's Photostream. 27 May 2007. 12 Jun 2008 http://flickr.com/photos/yelnoc/515719778/.
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