It is Year 6 for me, Year 5 at this school, my only high school. I LOVE teaching teens, I LOVE my school. I LOVE my tech. But I have hit a wall. I have completed two years of the Technology Immersion Program (TIP) program at school, working one on one with a coach to integrate technology tools into my teaching. And that has been great--I have learned many tools, chosen some favorites, and am able to add new ones without much drama. I believe I am a better teacher/learner, and my students are not only learning new ways to create and learn, but also how to teach and mentor each other. The balance between us has shifted, and I like it. Since I do not have a single "tech instinct" in my body, I consider all this a great accomplishment.
But something unexpected has come along with all these new tools: the new tools have brought an entirely new attitude as well. It is not about tools for me anymore. My thinking about teaching and learning has changed, and I do not want to go back to the old way of learning about students, reading, writing, teaching, all of it. Everyone seems pleased by my work, but no one has read my lessons, or looked at the wikis my classes have built, or even checked out the wordle galleries or video podcasts. I am naive, I know: I am fascinated by my how colleagues' students interpret their lessons, and the English Department is always noisy with our conversations about how we do what we do, ideas we offer each other for those problem texts, and sharing what really worked. Aren't other teachers looking to get ideas from me as well?And let's not forget, teens are remarkable in their drama, their creativity, their humor, their vulnerability and their outrageousness. What's not to love about this whole set-up?
So this year, I find myself investigating new methods rather than new tools. I know that this has been the master plan of my Tech Director all along, but I am dying to talk to someone (besides her) about gaming, to throw out ways to create stories maybe with augmented reality for World Lit, to get better at using the collaborative spaces on our wiki. But the reality is that there is no one who wants to wade through this kind of stuff with me. The environment at school is cautious and concerned more with protecting children than teaching them to protect themselves. It is not a bad approach, I just feel like it is a wall between me and my students now. I know there is twitter, and the EC ning, and all the teachers whose blogs I read, and who read mine, but that is not the same as my community here, who all know my kids and teach them too. I feel out of sync with them now, and am wondering if I am reinventing the wheel.