I did something new and risky last week and the week before. I ran the first few sessions of TeachersFirst’s OK2Ask: free, online, self-directed professional development sessions for teachers. I learned at least as much as the attendees did. And I am left with more questions.
How bad is it not to be perfect when sharing in an online venue with total strangers? Does it make TeachersFirst “look bad” if I admit that the tools (in this case Elluminate) are new to me as a presenter? Is this any different from what teachers do every day when they risk trying a new way of teaching or a new tool to make learning more personal and all-encompassing for the LEARNERS? Isn’t it good that I model a willingness to make mistakes publicly? Granted, I did practice a lot and play with the tools over and over. But the second session was ALWAYS better than the first. Was it wrong to allow myself to do less than “nail it” the first time?
Geez I hope not.
What I learned:
Teachers are supportive, eager learners and cheerleaders, even to total strangers whom they cannot see. I knew this. I have seen it over and over for years. But to see teachers willing to get excited about small discoveries and to tell total strangers about them via text chat in a virtual “room” is very cool. Most of those involved had never done a session like this, and they dove right in. And some came back the next week.
Nothing I did was that unusual. People have been trying out online teaching and learning for several years. There is loads of how-to wisdom out there on “best practices” in online learning. I read a lot of it. I play with the tools and imagine scenarios as I swim laps at 6 am (or lie awake at 4 am). The bottom line, IMHO, is that the learning, online or other, goes best when we do it together. This is just as much fun as the first few classes I taught as a brand new teacher decades ago. Yes, I said FUN. I just hope my fellow learners keep on coming.