Friday, April 29, 2011

1st Meeting Woes

I had my first meeting this week with the team of teachers who will be implementing 1:1 iPads next year. Being that the group of 15 teachers from the other buildings wrote their grant collectively over the course of a year, and I am the sole writer of my grant, I was lumped into this team.  All the other teachers are in the primary grades - a group of four teachers each from Kindergarten, First, and Second Grades, plus their tech facilitators.  I, on the other hand, wrote my grant completely alone, without the help of people in my building.  I'm a little bit of the lone ranger here, forging my own intermediate frontier without a support system built in.  I guess I didn't really think about including others in my building, partially because I wrote the grant in the span of 48 hours, and partly because I guess I just didn't really think my team was ready to take on something like this.  Nor did I feel like there was anyone else in my building that would be as passionate or ready to take this on with me.

I want to share some of my take-aways from the initial meeting, keeping in mind that this is the version post thoughtful reflection and regrouping.
  1. Patience will be KEY in working with this group.  When I arrived at the meeting I was nearly bursting at the seams to talk about integration, instruction, research we've all been doing, etc.  But, I came to realize about 30 minutes into the meeting that I seem to be the only person scouring the internet, my PLN, the blog network every night because I am dying to absorb as much information as possible.  That was a disappointment, which leads me to #2:
  2. This sense of urgency that I've been feeling around transforming the classroom environment is what made the writing in my grant proposal so successful.  I've gotten a lot of compliments on it, and at first I was rather surprised about that.  I can admit that I really don't like writing, which is partially why my first blog failed.  I never enjoyed writing, never felt like I was doing it correctly, except for one blissful year in high school when my teacher introduced stream of consciousness writing and let me write just as my brain functioned.  But I got a chance to read their proposal this week, and I noticed what I believe to be a fundamental difference.  My grant was a brain dump of straight passion for what I truly believe technology in the classroom is capable of doing.  Theirs was more calculated, better planned, but didn't have that same intensity.  This was evident in the way they conducted themselves at this meeting as well, while we talked about what case to buy, and whether or not the wifi would work in certain classrooms.
  3. There is a dual age issue here.  First, what I can do with my fifth graders is going to be hugely different from what these other teachers can do with kindergarten or first graders.  It's something I was aware of right away when I found out I would be working on this team.  I'm going to have to operate in my own world here to some extent, but still have to be open and ready to share and learn.  The other side of this is that I am the youngest one on the team.  In some cases, I'm younger by quite a bit.  That means that I am also likely the only digital native on the team.  I sometimes feel like I'm being arrogant when I say that, "digital native," as if it somehow makes me smarter or more capable or something.  I do not believe that for a second.  These women have years of experience on me, and therefore have so much knowledge about good teaching that I can only hope to acquire as I move up in my career.  But, I have the distinct advantage of learning by doing, by exploring, by picking up and solving my own problems without having to read an instruction manual or get help from a teacher.  It's how my brain functions, and how our students' brains function.
In short, I will really need to exercise patience as I go through this project, and keep in mind that I need to work at my own pace, not the pace of others.  I wrote this grant for me and my students, to do it my way.  So, no matter how much work it is, I'm going to make this work for me.

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