The personal learning network for educators
Time is a zero-sum game.
Whatever time is available for one thing automatically makes less of it available for something else. The time I spend consulting with other schools (which is now beginning to happen with some small measure of regularity) is time I am not sitting in my own classrooms. The time I spend writing grants, planning conference presentations, and dreaming dreams is time I am not collaborating with teachers. The time I spend Tweeting and blogging is time I am not personally sharing vision and building relationships with parents and students.
It takes a significant amount of time and energy just to read the Tweets and blog posts from the variety of people I am eager to learn from. There are so many valuable resources that already exist that I chronically feel behind the conversation as a follower! It takes even more energy to think constructively about how I want to use Twitter, my blog posts and other social media to contribute to the conversation without simply retweeting for the sake of retweeting or blogging just to blog. I look at the volume, quality and the variety of the Tweets and cross-platforming of blogs that some of my colleagues put out there and I become astounded (and envious). Who has time to do that? I sometimes (snarkily) wonder when they have time to actually run their schools or their classrooms what with the Tweeting and the blogging and networking and whatnot.
So...how do we do it all? How can smaller schools like ours find the time and resources to live up to our most basic responsibilities while still finding the time to publish and share what we do with the larger world? In a 21st century mindset how do you balance "in-reach" with outreach?
The best answer I can think of is to answer those questions with other questions (this is a Jewish Day School after all): How can't we? Or are those even the right questions in the first place?
The truth is that as we have redefined our mission to include the vision of 21st Century/Curriculum 21 education, the values of "transparency", "collaboration", "reflective practice" are now becoming part and parcel of how we do business. In the same way that a fifth grader's motivation is raised as is the bar for his/her work as a result of knowing that the world is watching, so too is the quality of my reflections. In the same way that a teacher's practice is improved by the collective feedback of his/her peers, so too is mine.
I have to retrain myself in the same way we are retraining our teachers in the same way they are training our students...
...21st Century Learning/Curriculum 21 is NOT something extra to do on top of what we already need to do. It is HOW we do what we do. It is certainly way easier to say than it is to do. But to truly embrace the paradigm shift it is what must be done.
And if doing it for the right reasons wasn't enough...
...it has not gone unnoticed that there is a relationship between the amount of attention focused on us from the larger outside world and the perceived quality of our school from our most primary stakeholders. For example, we showed our board a clip from Alan November's TEDxNYED 2011 session in which he specifically referred to a classroom in our school, its teachers and students as the living example of how a 21st century classroom should be run. Can you imagine how powerful it is for our parents and board members to view this? Can you imagine how useful this kind of recognition is for attracting donors and grants?
In a further attempt to share our vision for 21st Century Learning with the world, I humbly offer a video put together by Talie Zaifert, our amazing Admissions & Marketing Director, of some greatest hits from a parlor meeting we had for our local community about 21st Century Learning at our school. The presentation was largely prepared bySilvia Tolisano, one of our 21st Century Learning Specialists, and facilitated by the two of us. It mixes basic background information along with specifics about our school - prepared for a local audience, but in the spirit of openness, available to all. We welcome comments and feedback from all...