March 14, 2014

A playground moment: How to eliminate teacher meetings

Filed under: about me,edtech coaching,education,iste14,teaching — Candace Hackett Shively @ 12:05 pm

What role do you play when you meet with other teachers (or ed tech coaches)? Do you chime in with ideas but pray they don’t ask you to take on too much responsibility? As busy teachers, we all know that temptation. This week I had the pleasure to witness the positive power of educators to move the boulder forward — and quickly — simply by leveraging a little tech.

I am part of a dynamic duo(?)  leading a powerpack of ed tech coaching superheroes. Together we are planning a “playground” event* at ISTE 2014. About eight of us met on a conference call, preceded by an email with a link to a shared Google doc. Before the call, the doc was pretty much an empty shell. No more than 3 minutes into the call, I watched a little flag typing across the doc, adding the ideas as they began to flow from our conversation. Kim McMonagle was keeping a running record of our ideas as they flew by.  She didn’t say anything. She just did it.  We ended our call with a bunch of work DONE, not just planned-to-be-done. 

How often do you simply take up a tool to help the cause during a meeting? Imagine the power of such simple modeling in front of your teacher-colleagues, especially the hesitant ones who always say they don’t have time for tech. It isn’t hard. It’s not a big deal. You don’t even need to say anything. Just give them the link to use it when the meeting ends.

Of course, a hesitant teacher will say he/she does not know how to do Google docs or prefers to use paper or prefers to just sit and listen, but (s)he really cannot ignore the leverage of one Google doc against the boulders we teachers must move. Maybe if (s)he noticed the power of one doc without being threatened or “taught,” and the doc were perceived as useful, (s)he’d try it in the secrecy of his/her classroom.

This nearly invisible moment made me stop — and wonder that would happen if teachers took up a tool to move the boulders forward during every meeting we had (or had to attend).  No “we’ll write this up and send it out” or “we will be sending you a form,” or “will” anything. It gets done while you are there, in front of your eyes. We can all take the next steps without waiting for a report, an email, or some other “afterward.” It’s a “duh” thing that too many teachers neither notice nor initiate.

We’d probably have far fewer meetings. Wouldn’t that be a shame?

 *The Ed Tech Coaching “Playground” will be held June 30, 9:30- 1:00 at ISTE Atlanta. Playgrounds offer a couple of small group demonstration areas with casual seating and multiple walk-up stations for smaller demos/conversations, all in an open area that screams, “Come on in!” Conference attendees happen by or make deliberate plans to see big-name presenters in this up-close-and-personal opportunity, all focused on a common theme, in this case Ed Tech Coaching. My experience with playgrounds is that the presenters are approachable, and the learning is immediate. In these venues, there is no doubt that learning is play and play is learning. If you’re coming to ISTE, I hope you will join us.

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