Thursday, March 03, 2005

Teacher Collaboration

I work in a small alternative program that is a satellite of the three mainstream high schools in the district. Our staff is amazing and highly collaborative, which is wonderful for bouncing ideas around (my previous post about PostSecret being a prime example). Unfortunately, being small, there aren't many of us in any one department, so conversations can't always achieve the full depth and breadth a larger group can generate.

So, when Will Richardson shared a teacher's excitement in his district, I sensed the real potential of that larger conversation. Then, my Dad (a media specialist) sent me "Blog On" by Catherine Poling. Poling is an assistant principal using blogs as part of the district's staff development. She co-facilitates a monthly study group that uses the blog to continue the conversations between meetings.

This is exactly the kind of use I would like to see in my district, and the greater connectivity, naturally, doesn't need to stop at the edge of the district. I imagine rural school teachers (of which there are many in Montana) feel even more of the isolation. A teacher development community built around blogs would create a powerful conversation; perhaps one strong enough to ease the burnout of our colleagues who, traditionally, don't have the same outlets for the frustrations of the work.

The strings are interweaving, setting up beautiful harmonics.

Characters' and Their Secrets

I was catching up on some reading today and came across PostSecret while at Ms. Frizzle's. PostSecret apparently started as an art project where people could anonymously send in a postcard exposing some secret of theirs. The postcards on the blog are all incredibly powerful. The first visible one reads "Sometimes I want to run away from home. (I'm 38, married with a child.)"

The question for me became how to harness this power for a classroom application. I showed Karen, my fellow English-teaching partner in crime, the site. Ah, synergy. "What about," she considered, "making the secret safe? Students could create post cards for characters in the stories they are reading."

Yes. That is the connection I was looking for. Students inspired by visual and print art creating visual and print art while deepening their understanding of character and story.