This past week we enjoyed our 2nd K12 Online Conference LAN Part here in Jacksonville, Florida.
Our first LAN party had been a great success, that word spread around the school and colleagues asked if we could hold another one. We asked the participants of this first one what were some of the ingredients that they enjoyed and what would make them give up more personal time, not even 2 weeks later, to attend another get together.
Overwhelmingly, they said that it was the relaxed atmosphere and seeing in action how we opened up our classroom doors to the world to ignore time and space , by skyping in three amazing teachers, Kim Cofino and Chrissy Hellyer from Bangkok, Thailand (it was VERY early in the morning for them) and Melanie Holtsman (who had a previous commitment and could not be physically at our location) from across town here in Jacksonville.
We sent out an invitation to our colleagues for another get together to discuss, share and reflect on several K12 Online Conference presentations. This time, we headed off campus to a wonderful restaurant, The Corner Brasserie, that was equipped with a screen and a projector!!! AND allowed us to connect via their internet connection. We asked participants to pick one or two presentations to watch BEFORE the evening and come ready to share what they had learned.
Not only did over 20 teachers attend from our school, but we were lucky to have Kelly McGarity and her friend, Linda,Â both teachers in public schools here in Jacksonville, join us.
This evening, we did not only connect with each other and local colleagues, but were fortunate to be able to connect with another incredible set of educators.
Cheryl Oaks from Maine joined us and started us off with an overview of her keynote presentation How Can I Become Part of this ReadWriteWeb Revolution? she presented together with her seedlings team Alice Barr and Bob Sprankle. It was the perfect introduction to how each one of us has the capabilities of connecting and communicating with other educators. The tools are there… Help is readily available… It is our choice to join…
Nacny von Wahlde, joined us from the American School in Madrid, Spain. I can’t thank her enough for staying up until past midnightÂ (due to the time zone) to be able to chat with us. Nancy and one of our First Grade teachers were able to meet “face to face”, which was really exciting since we are planning to collaborate with a first grade class from Nancy’s school soon.
Mathew Needleman joined us from Los Angeles California. His presentation Film School for Video Podcasters was incredible. Very timely for our teachers, since they are experimenting a lot with PhotoStory and MovieMaker and we have several Flip Cameras floating around campus. Mathew had some great words of advice forÂ one of our Art and drama teachers on how to incorporate filming into their subject area.
Comparing our two Lan Parties, I must say that each had completely different atmospheres. With more teachers present,Â we lost in a certain sense the feel of “intimacy”. It allowed for more teachers to “fly under the radar”… of not actively participating.
While we were in a smaller group (LAN #1), everybody spoke and added their thoughts. During LAN #2, there were discussions around each seperate table, I feel, that I “missed out” on discussions that I would have liked to participate in, since I could not be at all tables at the same time.
Few teachers volunteered to speak up, share or ask questions of our skyped in guests. Teachers became (surprisingly to me) very shy when speaking in front of the entire group or in the “hot seat” in front of the webcam.
I am being reminded by the always inspiring Kim Cofino when she mused about a new age of delivering Professional Development. She created this fabulous visual below that explains different models of Professional Development.
I amÂ just starting to experiment with the dynamic group delivery method. Teachers who are attending these new kinds of professional development opportunities are learning how to react, learn from and digest this form AND at the same time I am , as the “presenter/facilitator/coach” am just learning and finding out the effects they can have among the participants. As in every classroom, some methods will work better with some students than with others. As within every method, there will be different kinds of approaches. I am willing to continue to experiment with these approaches and reflect on their effectiveness.
On Kim’s post Sustaining Change, The Next Level of Professional Development , I commented
we want/need to give differentiated support to the teachers in our school. Once size will never fit all and in adding more opportunities to our repertoire of offerings the more learning styles of our colleagues we will reach.
I already have received several requests to “do it again” from teachers. What kind of variation can I add to this group delivery method for next time? Any suggestions?
Thanks for the invitation to SKYPE in with your group. You are taking a risk by joining the 21st Century learners and trying out new tools. You are among friends! I am blogging about you all. Please stop by http://www.techlearning.com/blog and read my post on Tuesday. If you want to comment you will need to go to my blog and leave a comment. It is all about the conversations! See you online.
Thanks for inviting me into your conversation. It was a lot of fun on my end too.
You are always so inspiring Silvia! I love the idea of hosting your party in a restaurant, and I’m so impressed that you had 20 people at one time!
I am really starting to feel that this dynamic and informal model of PD is the way that we need to head. Helping people feel part of a community that enables support and inspiration from all members is so obviously empowering and engaging.
Thank you so much for inviting me to join your conversation – and for being part of our LAN parties as well! We are going to continue this process throughout the year to see what we can learn together. There are certainly enough presentations we can watch!
@Cheryl & @Mathew
It was our pleasure to have you among us!! I really feel that showing by doing is an integral part for teachers. If we don’t open our doors to invite others in for our own learning, how can we expect teachers to do the same for their students.
Thank you again for being a part of our learning.
You are exactly right, when you say that it is a process. I feel that I am in the middle of this process when trying to figure out what learning, sharing and reflecting means for professional development 2.0+.
Some models work better than others for us as the PD leaders, while some will work better than others for the teachers. I personally felt that the 20+ attendees were too much to really be able to feel the sense of community for each other on our personal learning journey.
The restaurant setting was wonderful, but confused some of the “attendees” about the real reason we were there for. I use quotations to point out that they were many attendees, not participants. This was not the case in the previous LAN party, when we were at school and with a much smaller circle of colleagues.
How do we steer larger groups towards participating in this kind of model?
I am willing to experiment and change a few more variables in the model to be able to compare the outcome.
Maybe we will meet next time at school for a more formal learning, sharing and reflection session and continue the evening by moving to a restaurant afterwards.
Looking forward to hearing about your continuing experiences.