Teaching what I know

Last week, I led a session at the MACUL conference in Grand Rapids, MI. I was there to share information about “Creating a Community of Writers Using Technology.” I had prepared a wiki on the subject, based mostly on some work I had done for the Red Cedar Writing Project. Since I am the Writing Project’s Co-Technology Liaison, someone somewhere thought I may have some things to share.

And it went pretty well: the forty people who came stayed right up until the end and asked many excellent questions; several people came up afterwards and asked even more questions and shared some information they thought may be helpful to me; and the technology worked.

And while I felt like I was somewhat competent on the subject (how to use wikis, blogs, and Google documents in the classroom), I actually felt my role was to model something only vaguely related to that perceived ‘presenter’ role; I’m really just a teacher who likes to learn new stuff and is willing to talk about my experiences.

I’m curious and open. The curiosity part keeps me from getting bored. The open part allows people into my journey. I’m good at making mistakes and I even learn from them sometimes. I consider myself a problem-solver and I thrive on figuring out why something’s not working. If it’s a car or a refrigerator, forget it. If it’s a document or a program, I’ll see what I can do. I may not always be fast and I can’t promise results, but I relish the adventure. The more I get up in front and share the adventure, the more I find others who like the adventure too. And the more comfortable I feel trying new stuff.

I wonder sometimes where this digital journey will take me. As a teacher-teaching-teachers, I have some credibility walking in the door. “I am one of you.” “I’ve tried this stuff and here are my successes and failures.” It’s risky business, but not entirely…kind of like dancing on the furniture at your Aunt’s house…you’ve opened yourself up for criticism, but you’re pretty sure you’ll be welcomed back into the fold afterwards. I’m not so sure I’ll take this dog-and-pony show on the road. I like this community. It’s fun to dance on the furniture, but not at just anybody’s house.

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