Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Sharing the toolbox

Image from Morgue files.

Part of the role in my current job is to coach the teachers in what is possible with regard to tools (digital and otherwise), thinking, information literacy, questioning. I don’t have the opportunity to meet with all the teachers individually or even as a group regularly, so I use a number of avenues to reach out to them.

I started a highlights blog called Teacher Discovery last year, where I placed new resources we had received, new tools that might be useful. I made it short and snappy with a lot of visuals. It took quite a bit of planning, collection and putting it together, so it was irregular. The reaction was very positive with people responding within minutes the blog going online. I chose the blogging platform because the previous posts are always accessible and teachers are busy people who may come back to something many months after it was originally posted.

Something else I do probably once a week is to send one snippet or idea of a digital tool or idea that I have been made aware of that I could see the staff of our secondary school using. Sometimes this is to the whole staff, other times it may be to one faculty or even one person.

Due to these connections I have built up, staff come to me to ask about an application they need for a specific task. They describe what they want to do, and if I am lucky, I will be able to give them idea of where to look, or, I did a quick google search, or blog search to find something that might fit. One example was a classroom assistant who is doing her teaching qualifications needed something for a newsletter - I suggested Smore, she used it and ended up with very high marks for her assignment.

One science teacher just last week said, “these links you send us are the best professional development I have had for a long time”. This drip feeding piques interest and allows the cogs to start turning in their own time. In most cases the link I send will be from a blog that also describes how the tool is being used, giving the teachers the opportunity to see the connection between pedagogy the tool, which it makes it far easier to adopt immediately.

I also use Diigo as my collection tool for links, ensuring I list, tag and share with groups as I go along for easy retrieval.

Where do I get these gems to pass on? Twitter is a deep and constant source with new ideas being thrown my way every minute. Reading specific blogs and mining them for ideas  - Free Technology for Teachers and Great Techxpectations, are two of my go to sources,  along with other blogs I read where people just share what they are using which happen to be very cool -  The Styling Librarian, Never Ending Search, The Daring Librarian, The adventures of Library Girl.
These are a just a few of my regular reads for new tools and ways to use them. I am also always keeping a look out in newspapers, professional publications and recreational magazines. Discovery through serendipidity is often the best.

I will be leaving this school in a few weeks, and many of the staff want me to continue sending them these links and tips. I am not sure I will do this in individual emails, but I may set up a page for feeds, maybe even a blog, or just a professional facebook page to share the ideas and tools to a wider audience, or just form a group on Diigo. I do need to keep in mind that I have a whole new staff to nurture, connect with and make feel special, so it needs to be the highest impact for the lowest time investment. I may have to dig around in the tool box to figure out the best tool for this job.

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