I was lucky enough to go to the 2015 ISTE Conference in Philadelphia and, along with 20,000 others, experience the overwhelming size and breadth of professional learning and networking that entails. Dozens of concurrent workshops, scores of meetups and poster sessions, hundreds of presenters.
Dip your toe into #iste2015 or #tmISTE15 for a river of ideas flowing in the backchannel.
During the final keynote, the speaker (a classroom teacher Josh Stumpenhorst) asked all the classroom teachers in the audience to stand up for a round of applause. Hesitantly, embarrassed, about half the room stood up.
Now, many people had left for early planes or to continue conversations elsewhere, but there were still several thousand people in the hall listening to Josh. However, only half of them identified themselves as classroom teachers. This included people who had a presence of any kind (integrators with a teaching load).
This fired a few memories of conversations with people at the conference who identified as ‘administrators’ or ‘working for the district’ or ‘no longer in the classroom’. As we stood there, it flashed in front of me in huge mental neon letters: HALF… only half of us are still in the classroom.
I’d like to think that in Australia the rate of teaching integrators is much higher than half. That the vast majority of #eNoobs have some kind of teaching load – even one or two classes – to keep their hand in the game and remain connected to the impact of our decisions such as a new school admin system (writing reports, marking rolls etc), a new learning management system (insert name of vendor here), a new professional learning structure or device management plan.
Does it even matter though? If you’ve had several years (does it need to be several?) in the classroom and then make a sideways shift out of it in order to join the ranks of #eNoobs who coach and mentor their colleagues through current and future tech changes, does it matter that you don’t have a class yourself?
The positives of course include flexibility (you can be available at any time, for anyone), space (to prepare and deliberate and think and problem solve). The negatives include the perception (“you don’t teach, so you don’t get it”) and the concrete (that we literally do now know what it’s like right now). The same arguments can be levelled at all middle and upper management positions: the more responsibility you gain at a school, the further away from the classroom you step.
Should #eNoobs be in the classroom? I’d say yes, at least for some of their time. Perhaps just one or two classes, or for part of their stint at a school. Despite the time this takes to be a great teacher for those classes, it means we don’t lose touch with the impact of our decisions. It doesn’t make us necessarily a better #eNoob or indeed a better teacher, but it gives us more than half a chance at one of them.
I’d love to know your thoughts.
Image courtesy of https://www.flickr.com/photos/camtraveller/16911779416