One the reasons being a teacher suits my personality is that every day I have to put aside theory/debate/abstract thought and just teach. There is no more procrastinating when the bell rings and there are dire consequences* if I am not ready for the twenty students who show up every day. So while I know the theory/debate/abstract thoughts inform my teaching, every day I must have solid and real plans ready to go. This mix of dreaming and doing is why I keep doing this amazing job.
It’s with this spirit of just getting it done that I created this wiki for #beyondlaptops. The conference held at YIS in April has led to some amazing conversations. People seem inspired to get things done at their schools and the debates of how to do this have been intense. People are passionate about how to best educate our students and it’s inspiring to realize how much people care. So after reading many, many, tweets, blogs, and blog comments,it seemed the next step of what might be a long process is as simple as making a wiki. So, hopefully without being too presumptuous, I made the wiki. Kim, who was the brains behind the conference, and I sat down for about an hour and put together what we thought people wanted. The idea is that the wiki would be a space to share and collaborate on documents relating to teaching, learning and innovating in a technology-rich environment. It’s a simple step, but it felt good to have something tangible done.
So the wiki has been made. The idea wasn’t mine, but it’s a small thing I can contribute to make sure the conference lives on. There are pages for policy documents, digital citizenship resources, curriculum documents, professional development resources, and community building resources. I kept the #beyondlaptops name because it’s easy. We’ve linked many, many of YIS resources**. The next step is for other schools to add their stuff. This is NOT my wiki. This is NOT a YIS wiki. This is a wiki for people who want to share what teaching and learning looks like in their school and to make sure we are not working in isolation. If people think that it will help them and their schools, then please add to it. Change it around. Reorganize it. And if you find stuff on there that you can adapt for your school, that’s great. And if it doesn’t work, my feelings won’t be hurt. But if it something that organically develops, I’m more than happy to help the wiki grow.
A final few thoughts on this wiki. I actually don’t think this wiki will bring about major culture shifts in teaching and learning. I do think it might be a small part of a much larger conversation about how our students will learn. I hope it will make people’s lives a little easier. And this wiki is just one way we can carry on the discussion we have started at the #beyondlaptops conference. In reality, this conversation will be messy. It will be held face-to-face and on Twitter and at future conferences and on blogs and in each individual school. So if you use this wiki, please promise me you’ll keep talking to other people. Say thank you to anyone whose stuff you use. Ask questions if you have them. And be respectful of other school’s ways of doing things, because you don’t know all the circumstances they are facing. Debate ideas at your school with teachers** and parents and students.
We know that change doesn’t happen because of a wiki, or a computer, or a conference, or a mandate. Change happens because of hard work. So let’s keep the conversation going, but let’s suck it up and get to work. Because the students will be there on Monday.
* Seriously…if I don’t have a plan ready for my middle schoolers, my life is miserable. This is where chaos reigns.The plan can be flexible but it must exist.
** YIS is so amazingly open. Literally everything was online and took seconds to find. How incredible this culture of sharing is deserves more than a bullet point, but trust me we are better place because of it.
***I originally had another paragraph begging people to keep talking to teachers. Just because we want to be in the classroom doesn’t mean we don’t want to be in the conference room having these conversations about how to bring about change.