We had our first 'ICT Arvo' after school today (semi-regular professional learning sessions that I run for teachers at my school who want to talk about/learn about/experiment with the use of ICTs in their classrooms). I have been doing this for three terms now and have developed a group of 'regulars' as well as individuals who feel comfortable enough to pop in, depending on what else they have on. This year, I am planning to take it to the 'next level' by beginning an 'ICT Action Group' whose priority will be to think critically about our use of technology in the classroom on a whole school level and be able to make recommendations to the school exec by giving the 'teacher's perspective' which often seems to go unnoticed, even though we are the ones working with the students. Sound familiar? I'm really excited about this, and I am imagining/hoping that it will run in a similar way to VATE's Advocacy Group, with a similar philosophy and goal (except it will be about ICTs and their relationship to pedagogy). I really like the fact that the group has 'emerged' if you will, rather organically, from a suggestion made during an ICT Arvo late last year. It also suggests to me (I'm hoping that I am right here) that the ICT Arvos are beginning to fill a more expansive/flexible role than technical know-how, by prompting debate, allowing discussions to occur across faculties, the beginnings of critical reflection, and all those other good things that can be achieved when teachers meet regularly with the common goal of professional learning.
Starting the ICT Arvos has allowed me to experience the dialogic possibilities of relationship-based professional learning through a project that I have 'gotten up' under my own steam. I am finding that this is even more gratifying than being part of the discussions that I love with people who have a deeper understanding of dialogism and community-based professional learning than I do. I came to the ICT Arvos with the knowledge and understanding of professional learning that I have gained from people like GP, SB and the Advocacy Group, and slowly, slowly, I can see it 'playing out' in a professional culture and environment that is far removed from where those conversations initially took place. Very, very cool.
Anyway, I was very nervous when I first started these sessions- certainly more nervous than I have ever been running the odd professional learning session for teachers outside my own school. It's a tough thing, at least it was for me, taking charge of a professional learning activity for my older, more experienced colleagues. But I am much more relaxed about the whole thing now, and it is quite amazing how quickly new directions, conversations and possibilities are appearing all the time.