Monday, November 22, 2010

Transform to Reform

I've read a few blogs and done much thinking on what I had to contribute to "Blogging for Real Reform". I began to reform my teaching style back in 2004 after attending NECC in my hometown of New Orleans. I was definitely a "newbie" to the Web 2.0 tools being discussed and to the concept of being a 21st century educator.

I attended sessions at NECC and was totally in awe of the language being spoken. Words like blogs, wikis, podcasts, Nings, Moodle, and more were swirling around in every room and in every gathering. The excited voices were speaking of things I knew nothing about, but I loved how animated the conversations were. I knew I wanted to be a part of it all. From those few glorious days in the summer of 2004, I have been on a personal journey to transform into an innovative educator and therefore reform my teaching methods.

I am in my 35th year of teaching and I teach lessons in a completely different way than I did before 2004. I started taking on the responsibility of my own professional development which began by reading blogs and slowly evolved into building a personal learning network (PLN) that aids my learning everyday. I joined Nings like Classroom 2.0 and started attending online webinars. I read professional journals and books and even enrolled in an educational technology leadership Master's program at a local university.

Since I was so excited by how all this learning was transforming my teaching, I wanted to share it with others. I knew other teachers needed to reform their teaching methods also. So I became a teacher trainer at my school. I have presented sessions at the district, state, and national level. Each day as I enter my school I am encouraged as more and more teachers in the building are now slowly starting to reform their teaching style and transform into 21 century educators.

Today I am a 21st century educator, who learns alongside her 4th grade students as we integrate technology and web tools into our daily lessons. We connect with other classes around the country and the world by using tools such as Skype, blogs, wikis, Glogster, and VoiceThread. We participate in collaborative online projects. My PLN is always close by to lend assistance or offer encouragement as we travel on the road to educational reform in our classroom. Oh, and by the way, my students consistently outscore the rest of our district on interval assessments and the state standardized test, despite the fact that 82% of my students qualify for free or reduced lunch.

I believe that educational reform needs to happen. I believe that the most successful blueprint for reform is what has happened at my school. Get two or three teachers who are willing to try innovative teaching strategies and let them teach the others at their school their best practices and lessons learned. Transforming our schools will not, and should not happen overnight. It is a slow and steady possess. But if done correctly and without strong arm tactics, it can and will happen. And it can and will be successful.

Most teachers are in the classroom for the right reasons. They want to help young people learn and be successful. Now we just have to gently guide these teachers to the practices that will work best to accomplish that in the 21st century, so teachers can help prepare today's students for their future.