Thursday, November 19, 2009

It Is Time to Stop Looking at My Classroom and Start Looking at the School Community

I am very fortunate to have some of my work included in William' Kist's book, The Socially Networked Classroom. I have just started reading it and am enjoying it very much. Thinking about what I have read has made me start to think about my school.

I have spent a lot of time and effort on my classroom. I have invested countless hours in working through the how and why for many different technology tools. I have posted over 500 blog entries and commented hundreds of times on other blogs. I have learned and shared a vast amount of new information that has truly helped me look at education in a new way. I have transformed my classroom in the last five years.

As I walk down the halls I see the difference in the amount of technology the teachers and students have access to now. There are projectors in all classrooms and IWB's in almost all of them. Most teachers have laptops now and we have an open wireless network. Anyone can get online at anytime in our school. Teachers have access to digital cameras and webcams. The one minor problem we have right now is some cranky server software and not enough broadband access to the internet.

As I look back over the past five years I wonder where we will be in another five. Will students be carrying laptops and netbooks? Will we finally allow them to use smart phones in class? Will our textbooks be digital instead of paper? All of these questions will of course be answered in time.

The one question that is most important has nothing to do with hardware or software. It is the one thing I can control: How will my school change for the better because I am here?

I can no longer hide in my classroom and work between the encompassing four walls. I now have more responsibility to both the teachers and students in my building. I need to seriously consider what I need to emphasize. My view has to broaden and encompass a much larger mission.

This is a new focus for me. In the past I succeed or fail on my own merits. The impact is much smaller because of the fewer number of students I had access to. Now my decisions impact ten times that number.

I don't know what direction I am heading. I have already encouraged the increased use of class blogs with other teachers. I know we are progressing as a school, but the rate of speed with a large group is so much slower than with an individual. I really need to make sure that anything I bring to the school as a whole is very important for our school community. I don't have the luxury of experimenting with a small group anymore.


NZWaikato said...

I agree completly that we have no idea what it will be like in five years time, or the impact that technology will have but I think that it will be a really exciting journey to get there. A case in point was yesterday when our classes spoke for forty minutes or so online - that was a a huge thrill for our students to connect with others on the other side of the world. I thought that they'd just talk for five minutes and it would conclude but the connections that they made, the link that was created - our students were 'buzzing' for the entire day as a result and that was wonderful. That wouldn't have been possible in the past and it has to be a good thing!

Wm Chamberlain said...

@Myles My students have been involved in several skype calls since August. The closest was from Virginia which is still in the United States, but a long way away from Missouri. While my students still get excited about talking to others online, they seem to accept it now. Since I have lived 30+ years without being able to do video calling it is a wonderful thing. They haven't lived long enough to understand what it is like to not have these tools.

In my opinion the most powerful thing about the chat between our students is the way they interacted. It seemed to me they treated each other no differently than they would have treated students in the next town. I find that to be very significant. We are shrinking our world while enlarging our classrooms.

Jim Fawcett said...

Mr. Chamberlain you are taking the walls down every day and opening up many avenues that were closed. My class is full of future teachers and you have had a major impact on my instructor and classmates. How many people will they effect as a result of you? The future is uncertain, but with every new day there is something wonderful created.

May said...

Mr. Chamberlain- I am continously encouraged by your ability to evaluate your teaching potential. As a future teacher, I understand what our work should respresent to the educating community. The positive results from blending cummincation and education together must be so rewarding for students and each indivduals future.

John Hadley Strange said...

Well, I see two of my students (Jim and May) beat me to the punch. You write "How will my school change for the better because I am here?" You, Mr. C, can change that question to: "How will my world change for the better because I am here?" Jim, May and I are just three examples of your work. We hope we represent you well!

Thank you!