Monday, January 4, 2010

Affable Lurking

Two years ago my school division embarked on Collegiate Renewal. The goal of the renewal is lofty:

All collegiate students will be engaged in their learning so they will graduate
as active participants in lifelong learning and as responsible and caring citizens
in the community, nation, and world.

My principal put out a call for people to be Learning Leaders in our high school. I had recently finished a masters focused around professional development and technology and wasn't sure it was the gig for me. I think part of me wanted to keep lurking.

On the Internet, lurkers are people who consume what others post but rarely or never enter the conversations themselves. Some 90% of us are lurkers (Nonnecke and Preece, 2003). In the world of teaching, almost every adult lurks. We all went to high school, we all have strong opinions about how school should be taught, but few of us teach. Those who do often lurk in the school system, observing and privately commenting on our students, our peers, those who lead us, and the school system itself. When I decided to become a Learning Leader in 2007, I decided to stop lurking.

Change processes, particularly transformative changes, are a difficult proposition in high schools. Like blogging, leading change in Collegiate Renewal is a far cry from the affable lurking of my teaching career. I find myself talking publicly about changes as I am making them, sharing what I am doing even as some of it goes wrong, an act of inviting the comments of observers. It is a process we are asking our students and teachers to embrace as we all learn about the role assessment for learning plays and it is a place of vulnerability.

For the last two years, I have been muddying the torpid waters of our high schools even more. I am now working on helping lead professional learning around how technology can help us with renewal. There are days I could really use a little camouflage. One of the things that buoys me the most is understanding that I am not alone in the work I do. I have been reading everything I can - research on change literature, assessment for learning, learner engagement, differentiation, and 21st Century literacy. But more than anything, I have been lurking on the blogs of other educators who write about the value of technology in transforming the classroom. The wealth of their ideas and richness of their shared conversation reminds me that lurking, however affable, is the opposite of contributing. Deeply engaged learners are always participants, and I need to be one myself.

Cited in this post:
  • Blair Nonnecke and Jenny Preece (2003). "Silent participants: Getting to know lurkers better". in D. Fisher and Christopher Lueg. From Usenet to Co Webs: Interacting with social information spaces. Springer. pp. 110–132. ISBN 1852335327.

1 comment:

  1. Wendy, I will come to this blog often as part of my professional development, so much to learn! Visit my grade eight blog!