Potential Issues/Difficulties

  • Capacity - technology capacity, teacher capacity, professional development capacity, curriculum development capacity, principal capacity, administrator capacity, community (especially parents) capacity.
  • Educating parents, other staff members, and the community - it's hard to create a safe place for change to happen. Some of this education will naturally come from the facilitators, teachers, and students, but attention needs to be given to helping others understand what is going on and why. Naturally, some will be curious, others concerned, and some jealous. Who will lead these efforts without overselling what is happening? The facilitators and teachers will already have a full schedule. Or, will administrators, principals, other teachers, or parents passively or actively work against the change?
  • Facilitators as classroom teachers - facilitators need to be more than former classroom teachers. To model this as a learning community, to have a place to try new ideas, facilitators should still spend part of their day, or each week as a classroom teacher.
  • Principals - What is the principals role in all of this? (See support for knowledgable administrators below.) In the best world, principals will be learning along with their teachers. The easiest way is by visiting their rooms in the middle of projects (not drive-bys with a checklist - a lot is only visible if you talk to the students). At a minimum the principal needs to create a safe place for the teacher to try things out. In the worst case, principals will do nothing (which sends the message to everyone else that they do not support what is happening) or actively push other initiatives so that the teacher does not have the proper time to try new things and to thoughtfully reflect on them.
  • Scale - most districts do not have initial capacity for a project like this to scale quickly. The setup of learning environments and the purchase of equipment can scale. The summer camp and ongoing professional development requires facilitators who have experience leading learning communities of adults, experience using the pedagogy to be modeled and co-taught, comfort with technology, comfort with the discomfort that accompanies change, and comfort with failure.
  • Support from knowledgeable administrators - lip service is not enough. They need to walk the talk or at least begin the same difficult work as the teachers to transform themselves as an educator. Furthermore, they need to make sure that the facilitators are not pulled in too many directions supporting other initiatives, trying to shoehorn in more participants than they can support, or using them as a substitute, para professional, or in some other role. That will instantly send a message that this initiative is not a priority compared to the other initiatives or to the day to day fires that pop up.
  • Teacher volunteers - this is hard work. It will not succeed with teachers who have not volunteered.
  • Initiative fatigue - how many initiatives will the district and school be asking teachers to attend to while working on this significant change?
  • Questions
    • What are the affordances/constraints of ___ (technology, pedagogical tool, ...)?
    • How do we interface our digital and analog communities, information, knowledge repositories …? How do we do this within a professional learning community, school, or district?
    • How do we define "writing," "reading," "knowing," "teaching," … ?
    • Considering the above, what skills do students need? Which do we need to "teach"? Might students benefit from a (loose, with time for exploration and tinkering) scope and sequence for those skills?
    • How should technology resources be integrated into the curriculum? How should curriculum be designed to take advantage of the unique capabilities of technology?
    • How do we thoughtfully add in new tools or capabilities without getting sucked into a never ending search for the next new thing or silver bullet?

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