Today (Thursday) Was A Great Day

I am often asked by my daughter what exactly do I do during the course of a day at school, since I only teach one class. Today was one of those days when I got to experience the fruits of all of the hard work that I have done this year, laying the groundwork for teachers to begin to think about their curriculum and technology in new and interesting ways.

The day started like most. Once I settled and unpacked my laptop, I turned it on to check my email. One of the messages that was awaiting me was a message from a dear old friend, a technology coordinator who I have know for nearly 2 years. She has put together a two day (Friday night – all day Saturday) workshop with Will Richardson that is occurring within the next month. She had a few open seats that she was offering to me and my teachers if we were interested. Not wanting to pass up this wonderful opportunity, I quickly emailed our Head of School and our three division heads to notify them of this wonderful opportunity.

Once I had dispensed of my morning email, I got myself prepared for a meeting with our Middle School Head. We continued our conversation on many different topics, dealing with planning for professional  opportunities for the spring and summer, brainstorming about changes to the daily schedule and the impact on our Upper School (I am the person who creates our High School schedule), assessment of current curriculum and potential changes, and the new opportunity to meet with Will. After identifying the teacher we were hoping to target for the workshop, I asked her if there was anything else that I could be or should be doing. After thinking for a moment she replied, “I would like to see you do a 2 day hands on training class on the new technologies (blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other web 2.0 tools) sometime in June. I would love learn about and play with these tools.” As we were wrapping up our meeting, our Lower School Head dropped by to see when she could meet with our Middle School Head. After they found an open time to meet, I asked our Lower School Head if she desired to meet for two days to learn about the new web tools. “That would be wonderful. I conceptually know about these tools, but I would love the time to explore and play with them.” Two down, one to go.

I then went to seek out our Upper School Head to inform them of the Richardson opportunity and to see if he would be willing to set aside two days in June to learn with the other two division heads. I was fortunate enough to catch him for five minutes before he had to go to another meeting. After talking about the wonderful opportunity, we targeted a few teachers and he said, “Yes, I would love to work with my colleagues and get a better understanding of what we are asking our teachers to implement in their classrooms.”

The bell rang and I wandered to approach the Upper School classroom teacher that we had targeted. I provided the background and the rationale on why I thought that this teacher would benefit from this workshop. This teacher and I have done a tremendous amount  of collaboration and there are plans for a new course that he wants to incorporate more of these tools within his teaching. Checking his calendar, he saw that a friend was coming in town and he was trying to connect, but he was game to attend the workshop if he could. A definite maybe. So far so good.

Since I had been away from my office for several hours, I went back to check to see if there were any urgent phone messages and emails that I needed to attend to. Once I dispatched those which needed immediate attention, I headed down to the Middle School teacher whom had been targeted in my earlier meeting. She had also sent an email to see what steps she needed to take to create a wiki to facilitate a classroom exchange with a class in China in May. We created our action steps for the wiki and then I pitched the Will Richardson workshop. There was nothing on her calendar and yes, she would be interested. She did have to check her calendar at home, as a friend was coming in town and she wanted to make sure her husband had not planned something during the workshop. Fair enough, two definite maybes, plus movement in getting the class cultural exchange to the next steps.

I went back to my office and sent off an email to our Lower School Head sharing my thoughts on who we should extend the invitation to the Richardson workshop. Next, I fired up NetVibes to see what was happening on the various blogs which I like to follow. Knowing that I only had a 15 minute window, I chose only to check only the ones I really enjoy. The first one I wanted to check was Chris Lehmann’s Practical Theory. I wanted to see if he had blogged about the departure of Paul Vallas, since I had heard on the news he was returning to Illinois, but instead I was drawn to his post about the season finale of Friday Night Lights, a television show I woke up at 6:00 a.m. and began to watch my TiVo’d version. I entered a comment onto his posting, sharing my views. Vicki Davis’ post about Burning the Midnight Oil caught my eye. Not having spent the time playing with Twitter, I commented on Vicki’s blog telling her how I couldn’t wait to hear about her project that she was getting ready to introduce later. (The Horizon Project has since been kicked off by Vicki and Julie Lindsay) This led to an email exchange (we should have skyped) where Vicki allowed me a sneak peek and invited me to participate. Reading about the project and then going to meet with the only teacher who may have been able to possibly work on the project, given the time frame, I determined that we would not be able to integrate this project, at least not initially. But Vicki did ask if I would consider being one her her “expert reviewers” which I accepted nearly immediately.

After a lunch, where I caught my breath and relaxed, at least for 30 minutes, I then met with a parent to discuss and provide access to our yearbook’s digital archive so that they could copy pictures for the end of the year slide show. Once I got that parent situated and started, I then met with a new Middle School teacher to instruct them on our philosophy of curriculum mapping, how to enter information into the maps, evaluating the effectiveness of a collaborative project we had done in order to make it better for next year, and how they could incorporate the Holocaust Museum’s Google Earth data in a presentation that she was going to do in early May.

I then swung over to our Lower School Head’s office to confirm who was going to ask which teachers she wanted to invite to the Richardson experience. She said she had already invited the one and she was really charged up about the opportunity. She asked me to see if the second teacher would be willing. I immediately followed up with the second teacher and she also committed on the spot. Two yeses and two teachers who would have dropped everything and leave right away.

On the way back to my office, a second Upper School teacher asked if I had a few moments. He expressed interest in tackling a global collaborative project, Challenge 20/20 being coordinated by the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS). I took a few moments to plan with him the next steps towards completing our application, which is due on Monday.

By now, it was 2:00 p.m. I spent the rest of the afternoon planning for a technology planning meeting we have scheduled on Monday. Once 3:45 p.m. rolled around, I packed up my laptop and briefcase and went to pick up my daughter at the chorus room to head home.

If she had asked, “Daddy, what did you do today,” I would have been able to answer that I assisted many teachers so that the students would have great new experiences in the future.

And it was an excellent day.

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