Sunday, May 25, 2008

Going Public: A Transformation of Consciousness

Over the past few years, I haven't made it much of a secret that I was attempting to move into the Administrative ranks after spending over 20 years in the classroom. I looked and looked for models that I would like to teach in and couldn't find one that would suit my needs, so I decided I needed to move forward and work with a team towards creating it. I have always liked the Gandhi quote, "We must be the change we wish to see in the world." So this is what I am doing. In early May, I was offered and accepted the position of Administrative Vice Principal at Woodside High School in Woodside, CA. I will start at Woodside on July 1, 2008. This will be a homecoming of sorts, since I graduated from a school in the same district.

I will continue to be active in EdTech issues, being involved with the Google Educators Group and doing Professional Development sessions in Northern California. I am already scheduled to speak at the Innovative Learning Conference in San Jose in October and at the CLHS/CUE Technology Conference in December in Monterey. I will also continue to write on this blog, eventhough if you go to it now through Blogger, it has changed. First, the actual color scheme is now the Woodside orange, replacing the Capuchino green and the title has changed slightly from "EdTech from just a little north of the Valley" to "EdTech from the Valley" paying due respect that Woodside High School is about 2 miles from Sand Hill Road, the financial heart of Silicon Valley.

I wrote a response to a Will Richardson post in December, which I have quoted previously, where I outlined there were two ways to create change. Either work within the current system or outside of it. I have made a conscious decision that the only way to evoke long-lasting, institutional change is to work within the guidelines of the current model. The nature of education is going to change, it is inevitable and I want to be on the front lines leading the charge.

So, as my last day as a full time teacher comes to a close this Thursday, May 29, 2008, I am looking forward to the new challenges that will present themselves in the coming months!

Hey... maybe I can get some of the high-tech big shots to stop by? Doubtful... but you never know! (smile)

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Professional Development Bliss: Lead Learner as Student

About a week ago, I lead a wiki professional development session for a few people involved in a grant our school and region is currently working with. The BRIDGE (Bay Region Initiative for Digital Gap Elimination) grant is a group of Northern California Community Colleges, High Schools and Regional Occupation Programs working together to develop career paths in the digital arts. Part of our mission is to build the capacity of the faculties of these institutions in the teaching of courses in the digital arts, the dissemination of best practices and facilitate articulation agreements between K-12, Community Colleges and ultimately to UC/CSU campuses.

Our wiki workshop was designed to use wiki's as a collaborative tool that can be used as a class website or as an individual student portfolio to house their work. I also wanted each participant to create a wiki that they could implement immediately. One of the participants was a Audries Blake, who is the new chair of the grant committee from Cabrillo College in Aptos. As I began to teach the section on embedding video into wiki pages, she called me over for assistance. She showed me her current work, which was a wiki dedicated to the work of her father, J. Herman Blake, an educator going back to the early 1960's. She had found a video on the University of California, Berkeley web site that was an interview from October of 1963 with a UC Berkeley Professor; her father, who was a graduate student at UC Berkeley at the time and Malcolm X. Yes! "THE" Malcolm X! We had a little difficulty embedding the video directly from the UC Berkeley site since the video was in Real Player, but a quick 'YouTube' search found the video in several 3 to 4 minute pieces.

In working on this with Audries, I found myself drawn to her father's story. After the workshop ended that day, I took some time to research her father's career. J. Herman Blake was a graduate student at UC Berkeley at the time of the video above. He eventually earned a doctorate in sociology from UC Berkeley. In 1966, he became the first African-American professor at UC Santa Cruz, Dr. Blake also served as the President at Tougaloo College and in leadership positions at Indiana University, Swarthmore College and Iowa State University.

Dr. Blake is the utmost authority on Gullah culture, a group of African-Americans living along the coast of South Carolina and Georgia and in the Sea Islands. Dr. Blake also wrote the Introduction for Huey Newton's autobiograhy, 'Revolutionary Suicide.' I also found out that the Black Panther Party's famous march on the California State Capitol was 41 years ago, yesterday. May 2, 1967 which was also my 5th birthday. Reading between the lines, Newton and Blake's paths coincided in the late 1970's when Newton was a student at UCSC and Blake was on the faculty.

So... what is the point? The teacher became the student, a Lead Learner! Through my own personal initiative, I learned about something I didn't know before. I enriched my life because I took the time to learn about someone else. I was able to do this quickly and easily because I knew how to learn. I had the skills to teach myself. If we stop and think, isn't what we should be doing with the students in our classrooms? Teaching students how to learn and teach themselves?