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It is ironic that Mr. Brown spends 6+ minutes as a virtual teacher standing (OK, sitting) in front of a virtual classroom expounding on his propositions. I agree with his point that information is becoming "free". However, there is still a need for people to help other people learn. The information - as a stand alone entity - means little until a person understands how to access it and make it useful to herself and/or others. The current educational establishment is clearly not the only mechanism for such learning, and maybe shouldn't ultimately even be in the mix, but somewhere along the line all of us need someone else to show us the ropes in a tactile, hands-on, person-to-person(s), one-step-at-a-time way.
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Other than what I've read about big city school systems, I don't know much about their union CBAs. I do know quite a bit about Maine's laws and the smaller, rural school systems here. I suspect our experience may be similar to other states' and want to be sure it's clear that not every state has or every CBA has restrictive provisions. In Maine, it is illegal (as "educational policy" - 26 MRSA 965) for a CBA to govern teachers transfers. That's not to say that most school systems don't ask teachers IF they'd mind being transferred (because that's the right thing to do), but ultimately it's the school board's decision - not the teacher's or the union's. Also, in rural areas, there is no intra-district movement because there's no place to go. Many schools in Maine have only a single grade at each level or even double-graded classes (not because it's cool and cutting-edge, but by necessity). It would be good if some attention would be paid to the needs and circumstances of rural areas when it comes to educational reform.
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As with most Boards of Directors, the NEA Board is made of individuals with their own disparate interests. Too, each NEA Board member is a teacher/educator/support staff person working in some school system/university somewhere. They don't have much time to get the word out across their states even if they did take what you said to heart. It's the NEA management that needs to be convinced so they will take the lead in beginning to address the real issues raised by educational technology. It will take more than one session to break though and then it may be too late to bring the ship around.
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The question asked by the Massachusetts member, "What will NEA look like in 10 years?" is pivotal for both the national organization and its state affiliates. It wasn't up to you to answer; it's the responsibility of the board itself, so I hope they take the opportunity to address that question soon and often. As a state-level staff person, though, I don't see much more than a occasional nod to the impact technology/social media is having, and will have, on education pK-16 and beyond. At your NECC09 presentation, part of the session was focused on "personalized learning" as a disruptive innovation which will soon reach its tipping point. If that's true, then the University of Phoenix example you gave in the Q&A is more likely to be the norm than is the traditional classroom. And yet, NEA does not appear to be thinking about what that might mean to its own membership: how it represents them; what they will need from the union/association; how it will maintain contact; how it will function in an open information environment; etc. etc. My thanks for taking the time to begin the conversation. Now it's up to the NEA to continue the discussion, ask the questions, and make some decisions (repeating as necessary!)
Toggle Commented Dec 31, 2009 on What I said to the NEA at Dangerously Irrelevant
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In reference to this sentence, "What role do digital conversations play in your classroom?", it's unfair to hold individual teachers accountable for digital conversations unless their school systems embrace the digital world. Many, many schools lock down access or ban so many digital devices that having the conversation is relatively pointless. We can advise students how to behave in the digital world, but it's theoretical only; we can't model good actions and techniques. Students always knew that certain behaviors (wearing a hat, for example) were not acceptable in school, but were pretty much OK everywhere else. "School" behavior around digital information as compared to "everywhere else" behavior is becoming ever more divergent as time passes.
Glad to see some of these thoughts being put "out there". I'm sure many of us have had our doubts over the years. In Maine, the sole gold-medal high school is our only magnet school - a state-chartered HS for math/science with just about 100 students. As to Silver and Bronze categories, several of the schools are TINY - fewer than 200 students. That's certainly not a model the state itself wants as it pushes for more and more consolidation. A few schools I know relatively well have not done well achieving AYP; what that says about either the U.S.N.&W.R. ranking or NCLB's, I can't say.
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Apologies for multiple posts; that's what happens with satellite internet access: the lag time creates a sense that nothing's happening and then - it does.
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When I originally recommended that you be asked to speak to the NEA Board, this is why: "Yesterday I attended a NECC09 session by Scott McLeod of the University of Iowa (he blogs at Dangerously Irrelevant) who spoke about Clayton Christensen's "The Innovator's Dilemma" and "Disrupting Class". He believes that the disruptive innovation of 21st century education is "personalized learning" and that most schools are not ready for it; indeed, they are ignoring it. In listening, then, to the keynote debate this morning, "Resolved: Bricks and Mortar Schools are Detrimental to the Future of Education", I realized that if schools are ignoring this change, teachers' unions are, as well. The current paradigm is school building-based local Associations and members. If McLeod is right, then - even if school buildings continue to exist as I expect they will - there will be a great deal more variety in the type and location of educational services students receive. Unions should be acknowledging and positioning themselves for that disruption."
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Since it's my fault you were asked (and thanks for agreeing!), my hope is that you'll let the NEA Board know that disruptive innovation, specifically personalized learning, is likely to hit the tipping point soon. I heard you speak about this at NECC09 and kept thinking, "If he's right, teachers (and other NEA members at all levels) are going to have their work lives turned upside down even more than they already are." To the best of my knowledge, neither NEA or any of its state affiliates are paying much of any attention to the theory, let alone planning for the future.
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I agree that school policy is driven by power, not what's best for kids, but - in Maine, at least - I see local and very personal school board and committee agendas dominating the decisions, not unions. Maine's teachers can not bargain about school-day matters like curriculum, etc, so their collective voice is not particularly powerful on the issues that matter most for kids.
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Although I understand the point, it is not clear to me - as a union rep for teachers and other school staff - that school administrators DO universally trust them with students. There's an awful lot of micromanagement around curriculum and programming, let alone double-guessing when parents complain about teachers.
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