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Location, Location, Location

cc licensed flickr photo shared by Gene Wilburn

In business, location is everything. The same holds true in education. Parents desire schools that are a safe distance from home. Teacher need instructional resources at their finger tips. Administrators should be visible on the school campus and in classrooms daily.

For me, Twitter is my 24/7 source of professional learning. The location is just right. I can access Twitter from my computer, iPad and iPhone whenever and wherever I desire. Yet, for others Twitter is uncharted territory. The learning curve is steep and scary. The concept does not appeal to all educators.

As an instructional coach, aspiring administrator, and life-long learner I realize that we must inspire new learning on the teachers’ terms. Jim Knight, author of Unmistakable Impact, calls this the PARTNERSHIP APPROACH. The partnership principles include: equity, choice, voice, reflection, dialogue, praxis and reciprocity. More information on the partnership principles can be found here. The Partnership Learning Fieldbook is an excellent resource.

The Partnership Principles have become a part of my instructional coaching. One source of new ideas has come from an unlikely source. Yet, now that I look at it deeper – it fits the LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION concept! Many teacher are on Facebook. Facebook has led many to Pinterest. I have noticed that Pinterest has sparked interest not only in home and fashion related things, but professional learning and classroom ideas as well. Sharing is abundant. Dialogue about “pins” is happening in person and through other forms of social media. Teachers are trying new ideas and sharing their experiences.

Just as with Twitter, it took me a while to realize the potential Pinterest has in education. I even needed a “Pinterest Coach” to help me understand the whole Pinterest concept. Now I use Pinterest as a social bookmarking system to quickly share and gain new ideas. What a wonderful example of the Partnership Principle RECIPROCITY.

Jim Knight, in the ASCD article “What Good Coaches Do”, explains reciprocity in Instructional Coach as the following.

“Reciprocity is the belief that each learning interaction is an opportunity for everyone to learn – an embodiment of the saying, ‘When one teaches, two learn.” When we look at everyone else as a learner and a teacher, regardless of their credentials or years of experience, we’re often delightfully surprised by new ideas, concepts, strategies, and passions.”

I have found that personal interest boards help me connect with the teachers I work with. At times we find that we have similar interests which opens up dialogue with one another. Or learning of unique interests unlocks opportunities to learn more from and about teachers. Sometimes the “why didn’t I think of that” conversations spark when a creative, yet seemingly simple idea has been found.

In addition to personal interest boards, I have boards with reading ideas, technology ideas, app recommendations, and many content specific ideas. I write a weekly newsletter for the teachers in my schools. Rather than sharing several websites, I can now share a Pinterest Board with all the websites such as my recent 100th Day of School board or Dr. Seuss board.

My boards go beyond topical. I recently shared ideas on  inquiry based learning using the Decorah Eagle Cam. I gathered many websites for teachers. I have since transferred them to a Pinterest Board for easier access. I also mentioned an inquiry process found on a Youth Learn website to help guide the inquiry process. Ideas shared in my newsletter continually spark interest with teachers – opening the doors to wonderful partnerships.

Other Pinterest Boards that have generated interest and dialogue amongst teachers include:

My boards are a work in progress. I have not checked out every link. Pins are merely ideas that have caught my attention. They are springboards. In order to be of use in the classroom, a teacher would need to find the curricular tie and make sure the idea is the best use of student time. They would need clear learning targets and know how they will determine student outcomes.

Pinterest has been a “foot in the door” so to speak. It has sparked dialogue and sharing with teachers. It has provided me an avenue to share ideas, specifically ones about technology, in a way that is understood by many teachers. For an example, one of my latest “pins” 101 Web 2.0 Teaching Tools Every Teacher Should Know About has been “repinned” numerous times. Location matters. If I tweet an idea, one sector of educators will might see the Tweet. If I “Pin” an idea many more are bound to be exposed to it. Giving ideas and getting ideas has been a fun experience!

While I would love to see more teachers on Twitter, I also cannot force it. Teachers are busy! It may be difficult to find time to learn something new at this time of the school year. For now sharing and receiving ideas on Pinterest is the right LOCATION.

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