Saturday, October 4, 2008

Boots on the Ground

Our project is challenged by working in two very different contexts. In California we work mainly with generalists (classroom teachers) while in Nebraska the work centers on the collaboration between specialists and generalist. Further complicating this issue is the geographical distance of 1500 miles. The Department of Education have asked us to present about ways we resolve the conceptual and geographical distance effectively.
This is where technology is enormously helpful, and I am always technology happy. Experience have taught me though that technology can have only a supporting role in a project like ours. I believe very strongly that professional development can be most successful when we understand each others context and practices. Further, there is no way to understand context and practice without sharing the same contextual space, seeing students, classrooms, and interactions.
As a former soldier it is a "Boots on the Ground" approach. Beyond understanding the context I believe that deep professional development the kind we know makes a difference is about relationships of trust shared experiences and even friendship. Such relationships can only happen in face to face meetings.
We travel from site to site for more than just a 4 hour PD we visit classrooms, and when budgets allow we take teachers with us so they can learn from the different contexts and practices.
Technology used on top of that can help maintain the relationships created during face to face meetings but not replace them.
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