Aug 23 2008

Fly on the Wall

Filed under Learning

Now, if you could be a fly on the wall of any one teacher blogger, in whose class would you land and why?

I often find myself wishing there was a way to watch people in action with their students. You get a sense of what they are about through their posts: ├╝ber-organized, creative, resourceful, kind, funny, engaging, reflective, generous, approachable–or not. But wouldn’t it be neat to observe for a day? What would you learn? Some of your assumptions would be confirmed, but there’d be surprises, too.

Given the chance, I’d perch on the wall of Clarence Fisher’s class in Snow Lake, Manitoba. I’d rub my little forelegs together with glee. I’d be somewhat familiar with what goes on in his room, because Clarence is quite transparent about his practice. His podcasts from the K-12 online conference and his ustream presentations say a lot about what he believes about his students and what they can do. His recent pictures of his classroom (taken in that surreal time before the students arrive) had me (and Brian Crosby) wanting to channel him. I will, and am going to post pics of my work, too.

Clarence teaches roughly the same age group as I do, and he’s a generalist teacher, as I am, so I think I’d recognize many of his strategies, but I’d learn a bundle. I want to see how the learning is orchestrated. He talks about being a network administrator for his kids–helping them grow their personal learning networks. Does that promote student efficacy and engagement? Bet it does.

What I’d likely see:

  • hive-like activity: not all doing the same thing at the same time, but a sense of purpose none the less
  • students showing respect for each other’s opinions, but still willing to challenge them
  • peer mentoring and coaching, students teaching the teacher
  • students comfortable with thinking, willing to take risks
  • students engaged with content as amplifiers not mirrors, as David Warlick describes

Clarence’s first unit on Global Lives sounds like a great hook, and he’s injected rich and relevant content and activities for his students to chew on. I’d love to be a kid in that class–forget being a teacher.

It is tempting to whine, I’ll admit. I have one computer in my room, so I can’t reproduce the circumstances (1 to 1.5) Clarence has. I’m 1 to 30. But, I now have a data projector + iwb and internet access in my classroom which is a universe more than I had four months ago, so I’ll go with that, and work for more.

So thanks for inspiration, Clarence. Thanks for modeling and sharing. Have a great year.

And fellow voyeurs: where would you like to be a fly on the wall?

Image: Green Bottle Fly by jpctalbot Creative Commons license

9 responses so far

9 Responses to “Fly on the Wall”

  1.   Errinon 24 Aug 2008 at 11:54 pm     1

    I agree, Clarence Fisher’s class would be a great place to perch! I’ve been following his blog for some time now (found yours through the Technorati link to it – neat how technology loops people together). I work in a small Canadian town too, although it’s not nearly as isolated. I recently completed the second year of my graduate coursework which focused on technology in education and I really appreciate how using technology can broaden the educational experience for both teachers and students, rural or otherwise!

    I’d also like to hang out in Vicki Davis’s classroom (Cool Cat Teacher Blog). She seems to do some interesting work integrating technology into the learning in her room. Her Flat Classroom project is inspiring.

    BTW, great list of blogs you read, thanks for that!

  2.   Jan Smithon 25 Aug 2008 at 6:03 am     2

    Hi Errin, glad you dropped by!
    I too am impressed by what Vicky Davis achieves. She seems to have boundless energy; I subscribe to her blog as well.
    I have never used Technorati to find people to read, but will investigate…I have tended to link back to people’s blogs through their comments on posts, and just recently via Twitter.
    I am always on the look-out for the voices of classroom teachers who are integrating tech well, but I’d love to read about other practices, too. Seems edublogging is populated by techies, which I suppose is natural at only five or so years in. I think blogging will really “arrive” (and so will technology) when it is as embedded in the fabric of teaching and learning as…well, whatever ubiquitous teacher practices we have.
    And then there is access to technology, but that’s a conversation for another day!
    I imagine you too are about to launch a new year, Erinn–best wishes in all you do.

  3.   Ann Oroon 25 Aug 2008 at 6:28 am     3

    I think many of us are drawn to Clarence. I really enjoyed looking at his classroom photos and his opening lesson description.

    I would like to be a fly on the wall in either Darren Kuropatwa or Chris Harbeck’s math classrooms. They both manage to provide their students with multiple ways of learning the math curriculum. I’d really like to spend the first few weeks of school watching how they introduce the methods of working with their students.

  4.   Jan Smithon 25 Aug 2008 at 7:56 am     4

    Yes, they are both inspiring. I think the titles of their blogs epitomize their philosophies. I enjoyed Darren’s K-12 on-line stuff, and am going to try his scribing ideas in some form.

  5.   Clarence Fisheron 25 Aug 2008 at 7:28 pm     5

    Thanks for the kind words. I’m glad that someone has found my posts on opening units and my classroom pictures interesting. As teachers we are “stuck” in our own classrooms beginning the school year so we can’t get out and see how other people are working. I remember in my last year of university being told to watch very closely as I worked with another teacher to begin their year, being told it was probably the only chance I would have to do this. I wish I had paid closer attention to those words! Keep sharing your story, we have plenty to learn from each other.

  6.   Vicky Sedgwickon 26 Aug 2008 at 3:18 am     6

    I too would love to be a fly on the wall in one of Vicki Davis‘ classes.

    I’d also love to follow around Ann Oro and Collins Trott for a day or more. I just know I could learn so much to take back to my computer lab!

  7.   Jan Smithon 26 Aug 2008 at 8:29 am     7

    @Clarence: The “thin walls” philosophy that you promote benefits teachers as well as kids: if we see into another possibility, we are no longer so stuck in the classroom–it’s like quantum theory where the influence is felt across vast distances.
    I don’t remember having to watch start-up during teacher training. I wonder if I would have picked up on the significance of it then.
    “Begin with the end in mind” wasn’t on my radar then.
    @Vicky: I agree, they have influenced my practice through the Elementary Tech Teachers Ning, another great window into amazing teaching practice. Exemplars of that 21st call: SHARE!

  8.   murchaon 29 Aug 2008 at 6:29 am     8

    There are so many different people whose class I would love to visit. So not only would I like to be a fly on the wall but an active participant in the classroom itself. That is why I love the value of blogging as we can get a glimpse of the wonderful things that teachers are doing especially in regard to the emerging technologies.

  9.   Jan Smithon 29 Aug 2008 at 6:42 am     9

    Wouldn’t teleportation be a great technology? Yes, participation would be great, which is why expanding the conversation close to home is essential. I know there are talented teachers working magic in their classrooms in my district. We need more opportunities for dialogue than just occasional professional development. Is that done well anywhere? If so, how?

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