chaos, an unsettled situation. Evolution of a homeroom class.

This last week was long. In the "Evolution of A Homeroom Class" series (brought to you from desperation--help!), I'm checking in with a report of this week's events.

The transformation, the Shift to techno-teacher with ning network and all else that implies (which is much) just about came to a crashing nose-dive from the force of chaos itself.

Too much, too fast--but it wasn't my fault, honest! Can I help it that my class discovered Leopard (the new Mac operating system) AND Alice in the same week?
Suddenly we were into Leopard and Alice, on top of having our own new class network with forums, profiles, and blogs. That's a sure recipe for chaos. Creative, productive chaos. But chaos, nevertheless.

The last two days I played the role of "t-rex" (as the students fondly call me sometimes), monitoring "settledness." This was in response to several students saying to me that every which way they turned there was something else really exciting to do and that they couldn't get anything "done"... The last two days I've been acting as Noise Sensor complete with a joking but halfway serious issuing of "tickets" as penalties for "disruption" which evolved into a "tax" I ended up charging for having to provide this service (again, jokingly--but taxes pay police, right?!) I think my playing this role brought things back into focus, and I think we're momentarily out of extreme chaos. But it'll start again next week in a new way, most likely.

Our ning network is about 3 weeks old now. It isn't the only change that's occurred in the last 9 months of my teaching "switchover " but it's the most powerful, sweeping, overview change. Our completely new learning environment is "launched." I am exhausted.

This weekend I'm going to write more about this strange transformation that is completely coloring our class. I've stirred up a tempest. There's a lot to sort out. The most important jobs I'm finding for myself as teacher aren't at all what I expected; I expected to be gentle guide and direction-pointer, calming encouraging students to reach out more to be active learners. I expected to be still switching subject hats to "writing" and "math" and "science." Turns out those hats aren't anywhere to be found in the wardrobe. If I had a hat to put on, it'd be blown off in the wind. I'm looking for an all--purpose fishing vest and cargo pants to wear, complete with a new application or collection of resources in each pocket. I'm not the gentle guide and direction-pointer I expected to be; I'm holding onto a a pole in a hurricane!

Before I go on, I wanted to ask if others out there remember a point of "transformation" in their classes, a point of departure into a new world that happened rather powerfully all at once? Or maybe it happened by small degrees and at one point you looked back and saw that the old ways were "nevermore" that the only thing to do was to keep going, and instead of having one way to travel in front of you there were suddenly too many to count, and the paths simultaneous moved towards outer and inner space? - -and that there seemed to be difficulties in even communicating what was happening?--

Or maybe you know about this kind of transformation because you study history, evolution, neurology, biology, or technology?

What are the best recipes for getting through chaos happily? Is it a matter of settling into it or fending it off? Optimistically (naively, foolishly, but earnestly) I'm going to keep moving forward. This weekend I'll try to do an assessment of the week's assignments, where I went wrong and what I may have done right. Meanwhile, people on our networks who have perspective on chaos, help! I'm especially interested in the affective component of the change. How do you promote happy, healthy, involved, and deep learning in an environment that's wildly opened up?

(this is cross-posted at Ning in Education. the forum that proceeds it is there, too.)

Tags: change, chaos, evolution, pedagogy, reform

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