Sunday, April 5, 2015

Why am I doing this? (four reasons I work with schools)

This week I met with a colleague from our school district. We had a lovely working lunch/coffee sharing ideas and current projects. I described our main Tech EDGE activities:
    Laurie Friedrich and I have been working with Rousseau elementary at their invitation for over two years. During the time we developed a professional development model that seems to work well and is responsive to staff needs and time frames.
    The UNL elementary education program has developed a class that focuses on tech integration while pre service teachers are in practicum. The instructors are available to teachers as are our preservice teacher. This makes trying new integration ideas a lot easier. It also allows us to reach another six! schools.
    We offer a graduate class in tech integration to practicing teachers who have presevice teachers in their classroom. This class is offered at a great reduction in tuition to teachers and content parallels the one we have for preservice teachers.
   We offer online resources through youtube, iTunesU and beyond.

My colleague looked at me and asked: "Why are you doing this?" This is not the first time I have been asked that, and probably not the last. It always makes me stop and ask myself if in all the activity I have (35 presentations, 74 videos, 60 blog posts, 4 articles all last year) am I doing the right thing? These are my reasons:

1. I work for landgrant institution. Working with our community is a big part of our mission. This is even more true of our college aiming to improve lives and communities across the State. Working with schools let's us have a measurable impact on the future.

2. It allows me to make sure that the teachers leaving our program are truly ready to teach in the 21st century. The teacher we train will potentially teach into the fifth decade of the 21st century. We are responsible for making sure they have a solid foundation for their future growth.

3. I can generate research on tech integration working WITH teachers to figure out what works. This is a new and exciting field and there is much we do not yet know. It is the kind of design work that calls for trrue partnership between practitioners and university faculty generating ideas and measuring impact.

4. It is fun. There is no way around the fact that I love working with teachers, seeing impact, solving problems and coming up with innovative ideas for instruction.

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