25 January 2010

I think I need to formalize my PLN...............

A “working definition” by David Warlick says that a Personal or Professional Learning Network:
involves an individual’s topic oriented goal, a set of practices or techniques aimed at attracting or organizing a variety of relevant content sources, selected for their value, to help the owner accomplish a professional goal or personal interest.
 My personal goal: to be an even better teacher, of course. But what, specifically, would do that?  Here are the ideas that keep rolling around in my head:

1) I need to think more about how they learn when I choose what to teach. Some of this might have to do with technology, but some might not.  I do believe that their learning paths are changing because of all the media, tech and visual input they have now. I need to take advantage of that. If more of it is going to be in their control, then what I choose to have them read is probably the most critical decision. More to think about here. PLN to adapt my teaching to facilitating??? Hard to let go of loving the content and letting them get a little when I can give them alot. If this was on a teacherblog that some of the biggies read, I would be taking a hit: but so what? I have already decided that my main focus is not networking but teaching my kids. That's where my creativity will go.
I don't want to change just for the sake of change. Maybe my age is part of this. A 26 year old teacher embracing new methods is not really changing so much. Me, I  have done some work or used some techniques that are old school and still good, strong techniques. I am old enough to have figured out that I am not going to get rid of it just because something new has come along. That would be like throwing out the coral cashmere  sweater my MIL gave me 25 years ago, after she owned it for 20. It is still more beautiful, soft and warm than any of the new ones I have. Plus, it reminds me of her, and I still miss  her every day.  Since teaching is an art, I can only hope that my teaching gets better as I add the layers of experience. New is not always better. Old is good. I am old. I am good!

2) I want to find my personal comfort level with change. I do not want to change what I am doing just because ..........everyone thinks we should. Reading expands your knowledge, your self image and your decision making skills. Not reading limits your confidence, problem solving and literacy. It probably does not matter so much what you read, but that you do, that's the common wisdom these days. I guess that's true, but I am so bored by the series mentality, the repetition of the same plots over and over, the inaccurate diction and barely adequate manipulation of the language. I think maybe part of my job is to help them develop discernment in their reading, info gathering, knowledge and wisdom development. SO... PLN to investigate how much do I want to absorb the new without losing the old?? Who would be in this network? Part of the reason I am blogging is the lack of colleagues who have time or interest in discussing these ideas.

3) another idea--how to organize the tools I do use--which tools (tech) for which classes? What order do I introduce? Which ones are best suited to which lesson? So far I have hit on things by instinct (one of my strengths) but that will add up (like my delicious tag for toolsforteachers) into chaos. Chaos is not good. Planning ahead is good.  So how do I put together the big picture? The syllabi that the department uses are almost irrelevant for me now--it is all about what to teach them, not what they need to learn. For instance, BritLit now contains from Beowulf to Martin Amis, approx 1300 years lit. I am not sure that a chronological approach is useful or possible anymore! Back to tools--more thinking needed.  This is one that Gina and I can work on for World Lit.

1/25/10:Learning is messy!  Who is in my PLN already? Most often consulted: Barbara, Gina, Val, Andy. Also important: Fio, Katie, Anne, Geri T.  I think I need people from other departments. Tech PLN: Donna, Holly, Dale, Linda, Fio, Michele A?,  Barry, and my twitter list, EC Ning. This is a pretty weak list: they are not weak, but I need to fill in the gaps in experience and knowledge.

More later..............

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