While I’m writing my dissertation, I am teaching at an independent learning school in a small town in Southern California. The school has traditionally been packet-based, with very little use of digital anything.
Dr. Stephen Pietrolungo, the principal here, is working diligently to move the school into the 21st century. This week, he outlined several fairly simple ways to integrate digital tools, inquiry-based learning, and critical consumption of information in his blog as a kick-off to our launch of the international Hour of Code.
On Friday, I gave a talk on this paper at the SITE conference in Las Vegas on the relationship between Participatory Professional Development and Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPCK). Generally, I asserted that all of these innovations in technology are changing the ways learners interact with information, learning environments, their teachers, and each other. They are more connected – to everything – which means that we need to reenvision our understandings of what learning environments look like, how to design for them, and what counts as “engagement” and “learning” within them. However, this also means that we need to reenvision what professional development looks like and the ways in which it presents new information to teachers so that they can learn how to design for and teach in these new environments.
I’ve been a teacher of some kind or another for about as long as I can remember. From reading to young kids with processing disorders to teaching ten-minute playwriting and producing festivals to tutoring middle and high school students for cash in college, I seem to always find myself in some kind of educator role. So when I became a teacher – and not a geneticist as I had planned – no one but me was surprised. “Of course you became a teacher,” everyone said. “You were teaching toddlers when you were three,” they said. “You were born a teacher,” they said. And I suppose they were right.