So far I have 6 different post-ISTE blogs started and still can’t seem to get anywhere! ISTE12 was my first; I was both under and overwhelmed. I took notes, I took notes of notes, favorited tweets, tweeted my hands off, networked round the clock, but I have not been able to make meaning of it (the underwhelmed part) …yet.
Slowly, slowly, like eating a good Roger’s chocolate with the head of a pin (something my grandmother, Gang, did as a child in a time of scarcity and this still speaks to me in a time of abundance) as I can only digest so much, I need to do it in my own way and I want to savour the process.
Will Richardson’s (@willrich45) presentation: “The Steep Unlearning Curve”, highlighted his top 3 things to unlearn in this age of abundance: Delivery, Assessment and Competition. The session at the time, was deceptively and tantalizingly simple; a couple of ideas, that…morphed into BIG ones that hit me hard, bowled me over and left me feeling bereft.
On one hand I recognized that I had done some unlearning over the last year (in the areas of assessment Dear Points We Need to Break Up & in delivery Excuse me, I think I am having a Revolution ) but on the other, I was overwhelmed and intimidated as I confronted competition. I can intellectually identify this force as one I need unlearn but I am very uncertain on how I will translate this unlearn into tangible actions.
I asked my tweep Fernanda (who I met for the first time face to face at ISTE!):
Yes. Stop doing things that involve competition. Easy.
Except. Do you know how many traditions and procedures in school are built to completely service and foster competition?
Awards day, Principal’s list, scholarships are just a few that come to mind in a blink.
Moreover, I know for myself how deeply rooted the underpinnings of competition are in my teacher psyche. Until a year ago I would have balked at this unlearn idea, rejected it 100%; heart transplant gone bad. I believed that to “do well” students ultimately had to do it “alone” and that to encourage them to collaborate, cooperate and intertwine their learning journeys were sprinkles on a cupcake; looked nice but not required. From my other unlearnings, I know that the first critical step in this process is to drill down deep and identify the underlying beliefs that my practice is built on.
I still don’t have a lot to show…yet. Just some self-knowledge, and a blurred vision for a self-regulating, self-sustaining community of learners who are connected, interactive and inter-dependent. My only concrete plan of action at this time, is to introduce open-internet assessments into class (where students can access and use their phones, computers etc during assessments).
I take comfort from accepting that I cannot get up this steep hill alone and it is not a race to the top. My journey up this hill has been and continues to be intensely personal. I need to do my unlearning in a way that is 100% authentic and true for me (and this is in turn what I want for students and my own children) but..I need a ton of help, ideas, input, conversation, inspiration, tweets, tweeple, and time getting there.
I need new skills, I need solid clues, I need loud encouragement, and I need ALL of you to make myself vulnerable to and say I can’t do it alone.
The hill is steep… and it hurts, but I know the view up there is mind-blowing-ly exhilarating.
Come on, let’s go…together.