This is one of those posts where I am trying to learn through my writing, not necessarily share my learning, so please excuse me if it seems to ramble on…
I read this post from Doug Pete regarding some of the things that we are still saying in 2015. Here is a snippet from his post but I encourage you to read the whole thing:
Over and over, I’d read “So and So says that it’s about the pedagogy and not the technology”.
So, why is “So and So” at the conference then? Well, from this seat, many are people who write books and speak publicly for a living and are trying to get a little notoriety. Good for them and obviously the credibility has been developed with some to the point that what they say is important. But how many times do we need to hear it?
I mean, really?
It’s the year 2015.
We’ve lived through so many models and so many attempts to perfect the educational system. We know that or have always known that learning is a community event with all kinds of social actions and, importantly, relevancy in the eyes of students and parents. Students so that they maintain focus and parents who want success and will stand fully behind a teacher that engages and pushes students to be constantly learning and improving.
The comments on the post are interesting as well, and based on them and the post, I made the following comment:
I think this is an interesting conversation. Colin stated the following in his above comment:
“We’ve been hearing this message for years. It was pretty exciting the first time you heard someone else echoing your thoughts, but come on.”
How do we know that someone who shared this at ISTE didn’t hear it for the first time? I remember a major shift in my thinking about six years ago and wondering why everyone else was not at the exact same point I was at that moment. While so many others were thinking about me specifically, “why didn’t he pick up on this earlier?”
The reality of it (and what I realize now) is that everyone gets to a different place at a different time, and we have to appreciate that they are ALL moving forward. There were many years as an educator that my major focus was using as many cool tools as possible, and not really thinking about powerful learning as the driver. Are you telling me this still doesn’t exist? Apple Watch was out for like 18 seconds before you saw posts on how to use the Apple Watch in schools. Sometimes the thing we have heard ten million times is needed to be heard once more. You never know who your message will reach at the time when they need it most.
I agree with you Doug that nobody goes to the conference looking for some piece of technology to replace their teaching, but why are the “50 Tools” Sessions so popular at many conferences? ISTE has always been criticized for those type of sessions but what does it say when they are packed? And sometimes, the technology does come first, and changes the learning (I saw this on Twitter which for the first year I used this technology, I used it to keep up with Shaquille O’Neal and Ashton Kutcher).
As long as people are moving forward, that is what matters, not necessarily where they are. The conversations that may seem redundant to someone, might be the first time someone else has heard them. I no longer think that everyone should be where I am, because I also realize that someone is wondering when I specifically will catch up to them.
The nice thing about a blog post or a tweet is that we each take a little piece of it, and can make our own connection. It is the same thing about conferences. When I present, I am always surprised when people come up and talked about what “resonated” with them. Sometimes it was a statement I made, or something about my dad, or even that something stuck with them that made them think differently as a parent. What you knew yesterday and might be your “common sense”, might be something new to someone else and changes that person today. A mentor of mine would always say to me, “everyone is not you”, reiterating the idea that we are all different paths on our journey.
The beautiful thing about a “personal learning network” (PLN), is that it is personal. It is about what you need at that time and something that you can create for yourself. My experience using social media to connect with others has really taught me that it is not only the “network” that is personal, but learning in itself. This is not to say that we shouldn’t challenge thinking, but it is more about how we do it. I have really tried to get better at asking questions to understand a differing viewpoint, as opposed to simply making statements against thinking that is different than mine. Covey’s philosophy of, “seek first to understand”, is something that I try to keep in the back of my mind, and am focusing on getting better at. If I want to be a great leader, it is essential that I focus on listening more and understanding where someone is coming from and working from there, as opposed to trying to get someone to where I am currently.