Last week I was going about my nightly ritual of checking student Kidblog accounts to moderate and approve any posts or comments that may have been submitted in the past 24 hours. I’ve been doing this since September when we introduced our grade 4-6 students to the concept of blogging, an idea that has been received by the teachers in my school to varying degrees. Some have embraced it with great enthusiasm while others are still trying to figure out exactly how it can support their daily teaching practice. That’s OK. The way I look at it, transformation is a curve, and some move along that curve faster than others. The students, on the other hand, have been highly engaged with blogging from the day we started.
So, while checking the student blogs I was quickly drawn to our recent 4DE class posts where 61 comments were awaiting moderation. I thought, “Wow! Where did these come from?” As I started to read (and approve) them I was not able to determine who wrote them, but they were appropriate and appeared to be written by other grade 4 students from somewhere. That’s the beauty of Kidblog. All posts and comments require administrator approval before anyone can see them. This allows us to open our blogging experience to the entire world. It was not until one of the last remaining comments that I was able to determine the source; and this only because the student gave the name of his school. Then the very last submission confirmed who was responsible for having the students comment on our 4DE posts; Mr. Groves. This made my day.
So what does all this have to do with transformation?
Mr. Groves had been the grade 1 teacher at my school for the past year, covering a maternity leave that recently ended. While on our staff, he immersed himself in any capacity building experience that was made available to him. He spent time researching and experimenting with iPad apps, implementing a web-based guided reading program, and delving into the world of Twitter to make connections and improve his professional practice. This culture of ‘failing forward’ at our school enabled Mr. Groves to take the necessary risks which made student learning more relevant. Although individual blogging was a bit advanced for his grade 1 students, he did comment on the older student blogs from time to time and became familiar with the Kidblog program.
At the end of March Mr. Groves left us, but spent only a few days on the substitute teacher list before landing a term position at a cross town school teaching grade 4. And these comments I was approving were coming from his students. He was introducing them to blogging by having them comment on our student’s posts before creating posts of their own. I contacted him right away and thanked him for taking this great tool and introducing it at another school. He shared his class link and told me that other teachers at the school were already approaching him to learn more about blogging with students. (Insert pride here) He’s taking what he learned here and sharing it there. It’s like passing a baton.
Transformation is not an easy process. I’ve often wondered how we will ever make the necessary systemic shift with so many fixed mindsets out there. As school leaders, we can easily get frustrated and lose hope when ideas we perceive as forward-thinking are embraced by few and shunned by many. But then I think of individuals like Mr. Groves and am reminded of how transformation actually occurs. Not usually in large numbers but one individual at a time. Eventually, a critical mass forms and we find ourselves at our destination without even knowing it.
Whether or not you are a person of faith, this prayer is a great metaphor of our work as transformative educators. Creating the Church of Tomorrow. Keep going.