Aug 23 2008
Fly on the Wall
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: über-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?