16 October 2010

Here's Johnny!

I'm bushed. Three conferences in a week is a lot...especially after the previous week contained three separate (but informal) presentations on the new assessments, too. I am the freakin' Johnny Appleseed of EdTech Assessmentland: planting little seeds of ideas that I hope will bloom all over the state.

Things I've learned during conference season:
  • I don't care what content area it is, the teacher archetypes appear in all of them. You know what I'm talking about. Whether it's the jaded veteran or the person who has to bring up the same point over and over again, everyone has their role in the discussion. I know I shouldn't be surprised by this, but it amuses me to see it in such a wide variety of settings.
  • I will not claim that our tools are going to lead to widespread change. What I do find interesting, however, is that someone in each group I've worked with has commented that they feel like the finally have something that will lead to conversation and collaboration with another group. IT staff thought they had the basis for a discussion with curriculum...librarians have a link to CTE...and so on. The fact is, they don't need us for any of that. Catalyzing those connections is an unintentional, but fortuitous, consequence.
  • We're on the right track with these assessments. Sure, not everyone is going to love them and use them. And people in the room who thought our work sucked probably kept quiet and will use the anonymous survey instead. All comments---even the ugly ones---can be used for learning and improving what we have. For example, someone didn't like the arts/edtech assessment we developed because a teacher might have to teach something new---why not just have kids research a piece of tech and do a powerpoint instead? And while we won't go that direction with our work, what those sorts of comments tell me is that we have to do a better job communicating with the field about what's in our standards and why we've made the choices that we have. There needs to be more foundation built.
  • Because of the enthusiastic reception (so far), I am a little freaked out about our writing sessions this fall. We're going to fly without a net. Instead of building onto existing assessments for social studies and arts, we're going to create brand new pieces that integrate a variety of content. Social science and math? Math and engineering? Epidemiology? Criminalistics? The curriculum world is our veritable oyster. This is a wonderful thing...but also makes for a very big world. We can't write about everything. We need to carefully select 6 or 7 topics. How to choose these? Can we write them in a week...which is all the time we have? I'm gettin' the sweats just thinking about it. These things have to kick ass and chew bubblegum. (Kind of like this, but without bullets.) I believe in my assessment group...just gotta believe a little in myself, too.
I have the upcoming week to catch my breath from conference season. The next one will be in March (3 conferences in three states that month) and I will have a whole new set of information to share by then. This is a process which has many miles to go before I can sleep. But next year, I hope to watch the seeds I've planted grow and bloom.

1 comment:

Hugh O'Donnell said...

"I don't care what content area it is, the teacher archetypes appear in all of them. You know what I'm talking about. Whether it's the jaded veteran or the person who has to bring up the same point over and over again, everyone has their role in the discussion. I know I shouldn't be surprised by this, but it amuses me to see it in such a wide variety of settings."

I know I'm off the wall here, but I have to agree with the idea of that there are subcultural niches that are filled by someone in every subculture (hey, I was a soc major).

My first exposure to this idea was when I revisited the site of my first teaching job. I'd been hired some years before by a neighboring school district to teach in the on-campus school of a private...well, you'd have to call it a reform school (as in male juvenile offenders)...and after a few hours there, I could see the archetypes clearly...the bully, the sneak, the guy who bugged people until they acted out and got in trouble...and on and on. My old students seemed still to be there with different faces.

I know that wasn't very helpful, but at least you know your observations got a reality check! :)