I am one who loves warm weather, sitting on the beach and relaxing looking out over one of God’s greatest creations, the ocean. I am not an overly deep thinker. However, one aspect of the ocean which I have always been in awe is that of the tide. If you stare and look at the ocean you will see relatively little change, until that moment when the waves are lapping against your feet. It is in the ocean’s tide that small, consistent and incremental change takes place.
For the past year-and-a-half to two years I have been researching the increasing number of 1:1 schools which exist in the U.S. I have focused upon the reasons why they have decided to make this shift and the results seen in the students of these schools. In 2009 I began the conversation with my administration and faculty. In December of 2009 we began to meet as a formal committee. If for nothing else it provided a topic of conversation, an opportunity for our community to dive into their own thoughts and feelings on the topic. As we progressed, conversation allowed for further research; research allowed for personal connections to be made and professional sharing to occur; and the personal connections have allowed for more thoughts, insights and opinions which allow for further growth!
As the spring turned to summer a new idea was sparked, that of a Web 2.0/Personal Learning Network class. This class is a collaborative project between our school and the Van Meter Community Schools. When we entered the school year our Technology and Learning committee asked that all of our teachers utilize our existing technology (labs, netbook carts and laptop carts) two out of our six day cycle. During the third week of October we were blessed to have a group of educators from Van Meter and a technology integration specialist joined us for two days of professional development. These two days were of tremendous benefit. Following the workshops I heard teachers discussing Twitter, Wikis, Blogs, and many other tools and topics in the hallways of our school.
The icing on the cake was today, 10/28/10, when one of my teachers approached me with some great news. (For some background, this teacher is a, now retired, 35 year Philadelphia Police Officer. He is in his second go-around with our school teaching Theology.) I was preparing for my second period marketing class when he approached me along with our Business/Technology chair. The chair said, “Mr. Brannick, Mr. Teacher would like to tell you something!” Mr. Teacher then said, “I just finished my class wiki!” As he said these words, I saw a smile which displayed the true sense of pride he had in his accomplishment. It was a great moment to be an educator! I was humbled to share this moment my fellow educator and his accomplishment! This is a small example of the growth our community is beginning to realize!
In reflection, our experience thus far as a community reminds me of the ocean’s tide. While looking closely there is little change. However, when you step back to look at our journey thus far, our community has come a long way in a short amount of time! I am proud to work with the educators I do on a daily basis! We tend to push each other, question the right things to question and grow together as a community. While our journey will never conclude, our path thus far has been one of learning, sharing and overall growth. It is not a sprint, it is a marathon!