Sunday, April 24, 2016

Four Reasons All Teacher Educators need to visit Neligh NE

Last week I traveled to Neligh NE to work with a group of early childhhod educators. It was a long drive made longer by road construction. As I was waiting for the road to reopen I sat in my car and quietly asked myself if this was worth my time. LaDonna Werth of UNL extension invited me. The professional development required traveling almost 3 hrs each way. In between I was to speak for about an hour and a half. Having some quiet time in the car I came to the realization that, no, this was probably not a good use of my time.
Promises had to be kept so I continued the last 45 minutes to ESU 6. I took a rickety elevator to the professional development room, it was packed with early educators from across the region. K-2 teachers, preschool teachers and paraeducators were all engaged in learning. As I drove home stopped on the other side of the same road construction- I stepped out of the car to chat with the guy holding the stop sign. As we were chatting my mind was tallying the ways this and other opportunities ARE worth it.
  1. Taking in the landscape. It’s an opportunity for me to learn what is really happening in rural communities and their schools. I am a frequent visitor to urban and suburban schools. Visting with rural educators highlights the simalarities and the differences with urban and suburban educators. This makes my understanding of schooling in Nebraska more nuanced and enables me to serve all teachers and students better.
  2. Impact. Last year we visited a school in Lynch Nebraska to capture an educator who was integrating technology daily with her preschoolers. This time the same teacher was presenting leading the group. In addition, the video we created helped convince the school board to invest in more devices for young students.
  3. Reality check. Early childhood educators reminded me that devices are a nice addtion but that we need to emphasize all forms of play and learning. While I know that, the looks of caution in their eyes reinforced the need to remind mindself about the need for balance.
  4. Learning. I pick up ideas from every group of teachers I meet. This group is no different. Last year Heidi showed me how to use the Starwalk app and a projector to create a classroom planetarium. It was magical learning about the universe. This time I picked up a slew of developmentally appropriate apps.

All teacher educators should find their own Nelighs, places where we teach and learn with other educators. I will be back.

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