Learning with each other at a Distance on a Sunday Night

Tech-enabled Collaborative Professionalism

By Lisa Neal and Lou Paonessa

Lou: Ok, so Lisa, what I think might be an interesting approach to a blog for the website is for us to have a conversation back and forth about a topic people might be interested in like: Global Digital Citizenship or maybe we can look at the value of blogging as a school leader.

Lisa: Agreed. Good topics. I am wondering if we should start out with sharing about our time together online the other night. You remember?

Lou: Yes, I have been working on a website using Google sites, that I intend to be an agenda/repository for documents and videos and other resources meant to support principals and vice principals in rolling out the Renewed Math Strategy in their schools. I need an objective set of eyes to look at it.

Lisa: You bet. Always here to help! I recall that my first question to you at the time was “How will they know where to go when?”

img_4215-1Lou: And I said that we will walk them through it. I didn’t just want to put together a power-point. I can’t tell you how many power-points I have saved on my drive that I never refer to after the fact. My intention was to create a site that was structured around the 3 part lesson plan: Minds On, Action, Consolidation, that would be interactive. I wanted to be able to draw people further into the topic and allow them latitude to address whatever learning needs that suited them. That’s why I included short video clips from youtube to help explain various ideas and concepts like Hattie’s “visible learning,” and embedded documents on “collaborative professionalism,” for people to dig into on their own time.

Lisa: Yes, I have to say that it is a very comprehensive and compelling site. I recall though that at the time is was one long page. I remember telling you that it might be daunting for some. My feeling was that maybe you need to create something that took people through step by step at a distance.

Lou: I hear you and I have to say that I really took what you had to say to heart. It was great to be working with a colleague from another district, who could provide me with an honest look at what I doing. You provided me with perspective and gave me some very constructive criticism that allowed me to reconsider my intentions and how I was attempting to present the work at the time.

Lisa: I was happy to help. Sometimes, as educators, we can get caught up in the bricks and mortar of our own jurisdictions. Seeking feedback from another with a different lens is so important. Who would have known that our connections from the summer would lead to this collaboration. Let’s call it our digital face to face!

Lou: Well, being open to your feedback helped me on the spot. I went back, took a look at it and realized that I should chunk the information and create separate links for each part. I even created a link to a discussion forum to allow for the discussion to continue and for principals and vice-principals to be able to continue the dialogue and sustain their learning beyond the group learning.

Lisa: What was also great was to be able to see other people’s thinking. I found the site welcoming. It is impressive and it is you sharing how to do learning more openly, collaboratively. So much stronger than modelling. It is doing it with them. Well done. Powerful for them. Being a connected learning leader in the moment.

Lou: Thanks Lisa. Very happy that you were able to help me organize some of that thinking to create a more cohesive tool for principals and vice principals. I have gotten some positive feedback and even since you last saw it, I have gone in and replaced some of the content with other links and information and have really emphasized the idea of growth mindset versus a fixed mindset.

Lisa: That great! Especially since we are talking math – people have a very clear idea of their own comfort level, both adults and students, and quite often a fixed, “I don’t get math” mindset gets in the way of the teaching and the learning. If a student believes that they can’t learn math then odds are they are not going to be too open to learning math.

remember-1Lou: Ok, so listen. Next time we do this together, you are going to have to tell me about your google community. I still have to create my gmail account so you can provide me with access. I really want to see how you pulled things together on your site. Curating and publishing online artifacts for practical use by colleagues is the way to go.

Lisa: Absolutely. I would definitely be open to feedback.

Lou: Hey, do you think that for my blog, writing about the edu-coffee culture phenomenon is a good topic? By the way, I made that up, I really don’t think it is a term, but it sounds good. Cannot believe how many young people hunker down to study and work at Starbucks. I am sure there is a blog post in there somewhere.

Lisa: I am working on a couple of ideas for my next post as well.  Hope you don’t mind chatting it out with me so I can wrap my head around what I want to say.

Lou: I hear you!  By the way, where do you live?  I never asked before.

Lisa: Dundas, Ontario.

Lou: I am in Richmond Hill.  Good thing, with all the Google hangouts and shared docs we used to collaborate on this blog….

Lisa: …it would have been embarrassing if all we had to do is walk next door.

Lisa and I had a great time writing this blog and we are looking forward to sharing more of our thoughts, both individually and together, on tech-enabled learning with you.  If you are interested in what the Renewed Math Strategy site looks like, just click on the link right here.

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