My wife didn’t understand what the fuss was all about. Blogging, wikis, twitter, and nings, these were foreign concepts to her. She was a traditional elementary music teacher who focused on teaching a traditional music literacy, reading notes, rhythm, and dynamics while mostly employing an Orff pedogogy. While I love technology and all that it promises, I believe our students are so immersed in technology that they need experiences where they move and use percussive instruments, exploring kinestetic learning.
That was until this week. Her school is adding junior high music and she is trying to figure out what curriculum would be good for students, most of them who do not have a traditional music background, to keep them interested and engaged. On Sunday, she asked me, “Do you know what a Ning is? How can I sign up for one?” It seems she found the Music Techie Teachers Ning. She signed up and has spent countless hours reading, replying, and even starting a discussion on what 21st Century Music Learning for Junior High students could and should be. She was thrilled that people are friending her and replying to her posts.
“Can you help me set up a Twitter account?” was the next request. “Can you help me set up a blog?” was the next request. “Do you know anything about either of these two books, A Whole New Mind and Disrupting Class?” I had to remind her she read A Whole New Mind three years ago and laughing, I showed her the webcast that I co-host with Alex Ragone and Arvind Grover, 21st Century Learning, and how we have had a theme discussing the implications of the book. “Oh, I think I remember seeing it on your nightstand.”
The tipping point came when she called me over. “Have you seen this great video on creativity? (Sir Ken Robinson’s TED Talk). I asked her, “Do you remember what book you took from me a week ago?”
“Yes, it is The Element?”
I then asked, “Who wrote The Element?”
“Oh, Ken Robinson, I get it. I think you may have shown me this video earlier.”
So there you have it. It is important to reach out to teachers when they are ready. You need to provide them opportunities to be stretched, from providing access to articles, books, or video clips. But most people will not remember and not get excited until they get motivated and have the spark. Then you have to be ready to let them run.
So yes, I have spent time helping my wife get connected and trying to answer her questions without rolling my eyes or getting sarcastic. This is a good lesson for me to remember when working with everyone.