The F4 key, what a simple concept. I watched my techie husband repeat the same action several times and he explained to me that in Microsoft applications the F4 key will repeat the action over and over. I learned a new thing. Several years ago at two separate conferences, Ian Jukes and Alan November challenged participants to learn some new widget or command or application or tool within our existing set of technologies every week. I think I have forgotten as much as I have learned! Perhaps a running list of what I have learned would help me remember?.?.?.
F4-repeating the same action is a good metaphor for achieving the goals I set for myself as Department Chair and Curriculum Coordinator. So far I have been fairly consistent in shutting my computer when someone stops in to speak with me. And I have started visiting colleagues classes. Last week I listened to international students (Vietnam, Korea, China, Taiwan, Germany) stand before their classmates and try and convince them to come and settle in their region of the British colonies. In another class I found students using a Wiki to explain to their peers the late 19th and early 20th century context for understanding the Holocaust. Students made presentations on the Enlightenment, eugenics, Cecil Rhodes and the German occupation of present day Namibia. All apparently unrelated to the Holocaust and yet all connected by the students. Having a non-class member in the class adds a different sense of audience. Following up with students in their class forum after the discussion lets them know that their ideas were heard and taken seriously by someone not responsible for their grade or depending upon them to prepare for an assessment. Speaking with my colleague about what I have observed, gives them feedback and allows them to see their class from another side of the room (so to speak).
Repeating this process in two to three different classes a week seems a modest goal and yet over time I find this is a form of collaboration and participation in a PLN every bit as powerful as Ning discussions, following Twitter threads and reading the lastest great article shared on Delicious. I suspect that for independent school teachers being in and out of each other's classes in an intentional and purposeful manner is as revolutionary as anything else within the 21st century lexicon.