Monday, January 3, 2011

Professional Development--in More Ways Than One

After a day of professional development where the patient technology department taught us teachers about Twitter, Google docs, Google websites, Wikispaces, and I'm sure I'm leaving something out, I spent most of my non-PD time toying with those very devices and spending an ungodly number of minutes trying to upload a picture of my face on Twitter before finally defaulting to the same photo I currently have on Facebook, which, ironically, was on my cell phone, not the computer, so I feel like a twin or a fraud or something other than myself.  That must mean I'm learning.

The whole experience reminds me of that feeling of not quite being myself that at first is quite uncomfortable but eventually fits like a second skin.  It takes me a LONG time to get used to new places.  For the first three years I was at Storm Lake High School, I often took the scenic route from the teacher's lounge to my classroom because I took the wrong turn almost daily.  The extra walking did not hurt me any, yet I felt like there should be an easier way.  The more I concentrated on taking the straightest path to my destination, the more I ended up taking the long, winding route, which made me feel lost even though I wasn't.  I was learning.

I remember studying about brain research, and one image has stuck with me for over a decade: when we(meaning any  human) learn something new it enters our consciousness, gets completely jumbled up like a tangled blob of fifty necklaces as we try to connect the new information to our knowledge, and eventually, once we have learned, it comes out smooth and unkinked, not knotted at all.  If we never learn the new information, the jumbled knot of necklaces remains, and we shy away from it because we don't think we can untangle the mess.

So here I sit today, with my blob of tangledness on my website, and I'm tempted to never return to it, but then I'd be leaving a mess, and like my brother says, "make a mess; clean it up," so I know I need to go back to it.  Eventually, the maze of my website will become a navigatable path, so I can find one more way of reaching my students.

Today as I learned, fretted, wondered, and experimented, I was transported to what it is like to be a student who is introduced to a new idea, lesson, task or whatever for the first time from a teacher who has been through this step so often that it's almost automatic, and I am reminded it takes TIME and REPETITION and FALLING DOWN and GETTING BACK UP and RISKING the fall again and again that makes students so vulnerable. They trust teachers to have their backs so to speak, to expect them to keep pushing forward, to care enough about them to be the railing that holds them responsible to get to the next step on their learning staircase.

So thanks to today's professional development, I had to ask questions when I didn't have the answers, I  remembered what it is like to be a student, and I am more prepared mentally for a semster that starts in two short days.  I hope that I will continue the challenge of finding ways to reach out to students in this technologically changing world that does not alter the basic spirit of human beings--they want to learn, they want to move forward, and they want to move past discomfort of not knowing to the comfort of being sure they know.  They want to learn.

1 comment:

  1. I was feeling a lot like this yesterday! After playing all day with the new ideas, I felt like I might not really use them, but it was good to know. Then after we spoke this morning and scheduled our meeting, I went back to my computer and immediately thought to myself, "I should put that on my Google Calendar!" And I did! Yay me!