11.21.2010

National Day of Blogging for Real Education Reform

Courtesy Scooter-Flix
"A grassroots effort to help create and support education reform."  That's what they said it would be - this day of National Blogging for Real Education Reform.  In this time of financial crisis we need to figure out how to do this reform while minimizing any additional costs to our public education system.
      We could start by creating a new Professional Development system in our school districts.  If we took the cost of training our teachers and administrators and supplied the necessary technology required to take advantage of webinars, education chats, or other free, or nearly free, online discussion sites, we would have tens of thousands of dollars left over to put back into the school system.
     A great example of this would be Tuesday night's #edchat or Thursday night's #lrnchat on twitter.  Where else do you get thousands of people, from first year kindergarten teachers to 30-year professors of education, all commenting and bringing fresh ideas about key issues in education.  Nowhere do you get professional development like that and it's free.
     Another example would be the various online groups such as ning groups.  Two good examples  would be The Educator's PLN Ning-group (http://edupln.ning.com) and The Classroom 2.0 Ning-group (http://www.classrooom20.com).  I belong to both and find incredibly important information from the members of each group.  And, if you are involved in #edchat or #lrnchat you will find some of the same great "brains of education" as I like to call them.
     Webinars are my next cost saver.  If you Google "education webinars" you will find PBS, Discovery Education, Education Week, and Google on the first page and there are a number of good options in the first 2 to 3 pages.  In addition several organizations(including Ning Groups mentioned above) will have webinars at various times of the year that could and should be taken advantage of by our teachers and administrators.
     A final cost saving possibility is what I call Ninja Conferencing.  This is where you arrange your days around a conference with twitter, facebook, and any webinars associated with the conference.  You immerse yourself in the conference from the friendly confines of your home or classroom.  No one has to know you aren't there but you can receive and send cogent comments on the events as they unfold.  You ARE there but are never seen by those who have paid to attend.
     How do we record the hours our teachers complete in these alternate training events?  Well we may just have to trust them to complete a statement of completion.  Or we could require them to be at their school while attending the sessions.  Either way we do not need to be paying instructional coaches or an outside source to conduct the training.  And from many years of experience doing both the traditional method of professional development and alternative methods, I would much rather learn directly from people who are in the classroom and are experiencing all of the things I am experiencing.