Notes from a Talk – Round One in Convincing Teachers to Form a P.L.N

DSCF2742                                                                                                             Photo by Omri Epstein

Yesterday I gave a talk to 37 itinerant teachers. Most of the time these teachers work alone. The travel from school to school, tutoring hard of hearing or deaf children who study in regular schools. They are expected to be able to teach all subjects, whatever is needed (elementary or junior high school). They have supervisors. they have periodical meetings, but basically, they work on little islands, guests at every school they work at.

They are not trained English teachers.

Some of them keep on trying to “reinvent the wheel”.

Of course I presented all kinds of techniques and strategies to use, with and without technology (you can see some of them in the LiveBinder I created for the talk) but with every topic I brought up the issue of the benefits of cooperation. I began by discussing activities with a white board and a piece of paper. Then moved onto useful sites that are either good for working directly with the students or make a teachers life easier (see LiveBinder).If someone remarked – “Oh, I sometimes do this/ or that related activity” I immediately asked where that teacher worked. Then I wondered aloud how teachers from other areas would know and benefit from this useful activity or website that she uses.

Then I waIked them through my counseling blog (in Hebrew). I had opened  a counseling blog  a few months before I began this blog but it had very little impact. I’ve learned a lot over the past 11 months in blogosphere and revamped the counseling blog completely. I now title each post as a response to a question I am asked by email. I also stopped waiting for people to subscribe and send out a group mail whenever there is a new post. I showed them that there is an area for comments, arguments and related questions. We looked at the search function and the division into categories. The impression I had before the talk grew stronger during the talk – many teachers think of blogs as something either related to the news (read the blog of someone living in Japan after the Tsunami) or a maybe a place to get recipes. They treat it as a site, not as a live thing upon which they can influence the content.

In addition, I showed them my class wiki. I stressed that all they had to do is send me an email with a link to a website they find useful, along with the level of the student they found it useful for and I would post it on a wiki for them. The same would go for worksheets they may prepare, though here I retain the right of veto (these are not trained English teachers). They would have a place to look for suggestions from their peers, who understand their teaching situation.

The talk was for the 37 teachers who are attending this professional development course. There are many more itinerant teachers, I’m not sure how many. I forward the blog posts to their supervisors. I don’t know if I will get any emails beyond the usual counseling questions from them. In any case, investing in answering counseling questions on the blog is not wasted time for me – more often than not I am asked the same old questions. Now I can save some of my own time by easily locating the question and linking to the reply.

This was round one. Not sure how to set about initiating round two…

5 thoughts on “Notes from a Talk – Round One in Convincing Teachers to Form a P.L.N”

  1. Hi Naomi,

    Sounds like this group got some very useful tips from you.

    I’ve only been in this blogoshere for a short while, as you know, but I’ve found it SO INCREDIBLY USEFUL (yes, the capitals are necessary!). It’s wonderful to be connected to people like yourself. I’ve “met” people who I can share ideas and thoughts with, so much inspiration and a huge amount of support. I love it.



  2. Thank you Jemma!
    It is interesting, I’ve discovered the importance of having different kind of support groups. The teachers at my school are the ones who are there for on the spot feelings and who will inquire about the health of my kids. But for reflection, sharing ideas, professional growth and encouragemnt to try, experiment and dare, there is nothing like this PLN!!!

  3. Hey Naomi-

    Echoing Jemma’s thoughts— those 37 teachers certainly received some pearls o’ wisdom, both from your many years of teaching, but also from what you’ve been able to discover while experimenting in the blogosphere. It really is an amazing environment to learn. Mixing local and international PLNs… now that’s an important mission we don’t hear of enough. Cheers, b

  4. It will take time for some people to realize the power of a virtual community. I still encountered the approach that blogs are for “exhibitionisits”!

  5. Hmm… I can see how they would think that, but I’d be tempted to say that there’s more exhibitionism going on on facebook or twitter than blogs. Blogs are for people who enjoy sharing ideas, peer evaluation of those ideas, and having a discussion about it all.

    Most bloggers realize that no one will listen to you if you don’t provide quality and attention to your community… an exhibitionist will always think more about him/herself than his/her community.

    Hmm… 😉

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