The job of the educator can often seem daunting and thankless. We live in the "caves" or our classrooms and spin on our hamster wheels, trying to stay on top of lesson plans, student relationships, our learning environment, grading, and administrative requirements. A huge challenge is finding the necessary and critical time to look out of our caves and both improve our professional skills and take a breath of fresh air. To me, this is the real power of Web 2.0 for the educator. The web can now provide interactive places like this to share ideas and resources in fewer places. The engaged teacher does not have time to stay on top of their field through outdated searching the web techniques, but RSS feeds and subscribing to useful websites can help us stay current with changes in our dynamic world. We may not be able to attend all the exciting seminars and classes being offered, but we can access webinars and participate in social networks that are answering critical questions right now.
In my master's degree studies, I have been very motivated to bring autonomy, relevance, and technology into the classroom to better serve my students as they prepare for our current workplace. I have been stunned over and over again at how things that I think "need to happen" already are! The World is an amazing place and there are so many innovative and compelling educators out there forging new ground. My eyes have been opened. The problem is not that there are not effective strategies; the problem is that we are not accessing and utilizing those strategies on a wide enough scale. It is my hope that social networking and the interactive nature of Web 2.0 can spread great educational ideas in a viral fashion and America's youth will have a real chance to break free from the standardized testing model and exploding drop out rates. I am sitting here lamenting about all those "wasted" professional development days where we spent hours doing things that I could not see affecting real and adequate change in my classroom or in our school. I honestly believe we need a grassroots movement by teachers to change our school systems. We need to take back our professional development days and use them to collaborate and share successful ideas in realistic, meaningful, and authentic ways. I used to think there was little hope. Now, I see I was not looking in the direction of all the great things going on in schools right now and there are not enough of my capable collegues highlighting their own successes in a wide enough arena!
My current professional development includes follow up research on the schools and institutions that I have been introduced to recently by Daniel Pink in his book, Drive. This is a must read for educators . It discusses the science of motivation and how our most popular motivational systems and techniques are hopelessly outdated and non-productive in our current culture. Pink provides a section highlighting movers and shakers in education who are using new models of instruction that give students autonomy, a sense of purpose, and motivation to learn and participate.