Wednesday Open Forums

We still do not have an official name for whatever it is called when we gather together on Wednesdays over lunch at Houlihans. So for this hour, I am referring to it as “Wednesday Open Forums.” If it sticks, well… it is what it is.

Yesterday (two days ago for most of you reading this) we were honored to have a bona fide Unit 4 teacher with us. And I personally think this was one of our better discussions yet. The new perspective of a teacher, even just one, brought a new dimension to the table.

Prior to the Teacher’s arrival, we started off talking techy stuff; Grinnip is waiting on deliver of “carts” to get laptops to Jefferson and Stratton, but otherwise they are ready to go; Grinnip has already partitioned the BTW WAN (VLans), but has stated they simply do not have the resources to monitor and maintain such a setup for every single school building; and we didn’t really talk much more about what would be nice to put on a “teacher” website until The Teacher showed up.

With The Teacher there, our topics ranged a bit but I’ll highlight what I remember here:

  • When I asked what teachers really need (outside the narrow scope of computers), the response was that teachers need more time – they “waste” too much of this precious resource in meetings, committees, etc. What’s worse, even a potentially good meeting can be destroyed when an Administrative member is present and proceeds to dominate, turning what could be a useful dialog into a monologue.
  • The Teacher stated a perspective that the Administration attempts to box in teachers a bit too much, presenting an overly rigorous and stifling curriculum. The Teacher’s experience is that breaking out of that mold relaxes tensions, frees innovation and creates satisfaction.
  • On the topic of how to make education in general better, we discussed how the modern delivery and typical method of information dissemination focuses on one active center of knowledge filling up an audience of passive, empty buckets. What is interesting is that this model is extremely pervasive in our society. This is how the Administration doles out information to teachers and the community. This is how most meetings in the workplace are run. And this is how you can kill any desire to learn. Teachers need not so much to transfer knowledge into their pupils’ minds as to give them a hunger to grow, an appetite of curiosity, of reaching, exploring and discovering.
  • Teachers want to be heard. Specifically by the Administration. The Teacher gave one example of how hard it is to find support in a structure that is meant to support them, especially when there is no trust.
  • Back on the topic of technology, it is not yet clear to me what would be most helpful to teachers. Since teachers are already constrained in the time budgets, adding yet one more responsibility of maintaining a web presence seems impractical. But yet at the same time, there is the allure of reaching out to the segment of society that consumes information via online mediums. How best to do that? Moreover, teachers do not want be judged based on their adaptation of technology; there should be no aspect of their job description that dictates assimilation in that regards. Personally, I see this as a gaping hole, especially as we race forward with UC2B and watch the explosion of social media. All segments of society are uprooted as the digital divide grows larger.

Our talk on Wednesday inspired me to seek out more teachers to invite to sit down with us. I also want to find others “not like us”; those of different backgrounds, different circumstances, and even those that disagree with us. 🙂 But I have a feeling we are going to have a find a new venue closer to those we want to talk with.

In any case, you, the reader, are invited to join us for Wednesday Open Forums. 😀

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