Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Get in the pool!


I spend a lot of time reading educational blogs.  Just as we all would want our doctor to be up on the latest medical discoveries and innovations, I believe we would want our teacher (or our child's teacher) to have an understanding of the latest developments in learning.  It's not about adopting and incorporating everything; it's about listening to and learning from the conversation.

But it's also about being part of the conversation.

I was reading a George Couros' blog post called Figuring It Out for Themselves? that talked about student connection. He made a case for not leaving the facilitation of student connections to a few in the school, but opening the door to everyone having an influence on it. 

Now I am all about connections. And it's not just people. I love that my phone is connected to my music which is connected to my speakers which is connected to my movies which is connected to my TV which is connected to my pictures.  I love when I see a student's learning on their digital portfolio in a post that has an embedded movie or game that they have created on one of their beloved apps and I make sure that I tweet it out or put the link on a Flipboard. Connection: it's just one thing I delight in.

And I have been developing my chops in facilitating student connection.  We have connected with a planetary scientist, a cancer survivor, a stem cell researcher, a food banking organization, business start ups, non-profits and more all in the name of helping, learning and growing.

Needless to say, the post caught my eye.

George was responding to William Chamberlain (coiner of the #comments4kids hashtag) who excellently shared that posting does not mean connecting.  I agree.  In the 21st century the web truly goes both ways.  Web 2.0 is about connecting.  Not only do my students get to receive but they get to give!  I love the fact that this picture was taken as my students were sharing their knowledge of project-based learning over Skype with the folks at FreshGrade. I love that FreshGrade was interested enough to ask students what they knew. Amazing!

There's a to and fro, a relationship, a connection.

A swimming analogy was used in George's post. The quote was:

There was talk in the comments around what that teaching would look like: scaffolding learning, explaining acceptable use, the gradual release of responsibility.  I was surprised, though, when the analogy didn't get to its logical end:

Get in the pool! 

Now I have watched a lot of swimming lessons. And let me tell you, something happens when your kids take Swim Kids 4 for the fourth time. At times your hand reaches into your pocket to feel for a $20 to grease the teenaged instructor's dripping palms to end the madness and it is only halted when you awaken from your chlorine induced stupor with the words: "Dad, it's done. I'm freezing. Let's go."  Anyways.  In all those times, rarely have I seen a dry swim instructor. And if it does happen, it's likely some kid with a cast on his arm whose hanging on to his $15/hour job for dear life despite the skateboarding injury.

They are all in the pool.

Lessons on developing our ability to connect meaningfully are better caught than taught. Are you watching the action go by or are you part of it?

Are we creating opportunities to model online interaction with our students?
Are we part of a developing culture of sharing at our schools?
Are we opening the door to student connections through back channeling, cross commenting, collaboration? Do we participate in it?
Do we make time and space for global connections?

If we prize connection and want to see our students connect, we've got to be part of an atmosphere of connection.  We've got to jump in the pool.

[photo, “Lion's Pool Aug'13“, by Lontzman Katzman licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.]