Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Embrace the struggle, but don't do it alone...



flickr CC photo via Bill Brine


"Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean."  -Ryunosuke Sator


Teachers, you're going to struggle this year... we all do. If you don't, perhaps you need a reality check. For teachers, our contextual struggle can be positively framed as the perpetual quest toward better ways to do what we do. Teaching is as fluid and non-static an effort as any, perhaps more than any, and this is a very good thing. When viewed through the purposeful lens, the intangible nature of what we do is exactly what makes it so challenging and interesting- a craft that allows for infinite degrees of creativity and innovation.


Embrace the struggle; seize the opportunity to exist in a teaching and learning environment that welcomes change as a constant, not a variable, but by all means understand also that like many things, when compared to acting alone, collaboration is the key to unlocking creative potential that you may not individually realize.


For whatever reasons teachers have been a fairly solitude group of people for a long time. Perhaps the structure of traditional teaching and learning is to blame as we enter our classroom domains each year comfortably protected by the boundaries of the four walls that surround us... but that's changing. Interdependent networks of forward-thinking educators are discovering the immense possibilities in web-based interaction. Since discovering the power of on-line collaborative networks, my personal learning tribe has grown in the last ten months to incorporate people and their ideas I never dreamed possible. 


As we move education forward I think this trend will leave behind anyone who isn't willing to at least lurk in the new paradigm of collaborative, web-based professional interaction until they are comfortable enough to be involved directly. It's ironic that the comfort we used to feel within the boundaries of our secluded classrooms of the past will be replaced by feelings of discomfort and disconnect in classrooms that remain isolated and closed. Teachers who refuse to capitulate to the new cooperative paradigm will undoubtedly find their job increasingly difficult and blocked, and this resistance to work interdependently with others will be the downfall of many teachers to the detriment of their students progress and joy of learning. The problem extends beyond the specifics of resisting the efficacy of web-based teaching connections; resistance to collaborate with others will negatively affect every aspect of the modern classroom.


Reliance on outmoded and under-stimulating pedagogy will exacerbate the problem for disconnected, solitary teachers. As connected classrooms move toward more engaging and authentic teaching and learning, they will be left with dissatisfied and bored students. To me, contemporary education provides no alternative in our professional practice to effective collaboration with progressive practitioners who routinely seek innovative and creative ways to connect every part of the teaching and learning process for kids.    



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