Saturday, November 9, 2013


I'm participating in Ruth Ayre's weekly "Celebrate This Week." Head over to Ruth's blog for lots more celebrations. 
Today I'm celebrating learning.

Not kid learning.

Adult learning.

My adult learning.

Because I'm learning something new.

Over the past couple of months I've been learning to use Google docs.

It started this summer. I was teaching an class for my district. One of the other teachers used a google doc, with links to a variety of articles and websites, for her syllabus. One afternoon we were planning for the class and she showed me how she set up her syllabus. And I decided that if I wanted to be a hip and with-it 21st century teacher, I might want to try google docs also.

And so I did. And it went kind of ok, but I didn't feel great about the experience. Sometimes my students could access the things on my document and sometimes they couldn't. After the course was over, students wrote to me, wanting to revisit certain articles, and I couldn't figure out how to maintain access (I still haven't figured out that one). I wasn't sure I really liked Google docs, or that I would use it again. It just felt like a little too much.

This year, when I went back to school, we had a new assistant principal. She had come from a district where staff members were expected to use Google Docs and she liked Google docs. A lot. She uses them all the time. And so gradually, with her support, I have been continued using Google docs.

And I'm getting better. A whole lot better. In the past week, I've used Google docs to collaborate with our leadership team to set the agenda for an upcoming Professional Development day. I've learned how to create conditional formatting on a spreadsheet. I've entered data in that same spread sheet and shared it with teachers. This morning I will be meeting with my principal and assistant principal creating a presentation. I'm sure we will be doing it on Google docs.

And I'm feeling pretty proud of myself. Pretty hip and with-it and 21st century.

My learning hasn't been totally straightforward. A few weeks ago, I had trouble accessing my district gmail account because I didn't know that I had two accounts-- one personal and one professional.  My assistant principal help me set up spreadsheets for monitoring student writing, but then when I tried to share them at grade level meetings, no one could access them. One of the second grade teachers helped me figure out conditional formatting, because I didn't know how to do that either

But with every failure, I learn something new. Become a little independent and a little more confident.

And I'm remembering. Thinking about Brian Cambourne, whose conditions for learning have been foundational to my practice.

And I'm remembering. Learning takes time. Lots of time. It takes engagement. The belief that something is worth doing. And that I am a person who might be able to do it some day.  Learning involves  risk taking. And mistake making.  It's messy. It involves approximation. And feedback. And supportive peers. And lots and lots and lots of practice.

Today I'm celebrating adult learning.

And remembering how important it is to create those same conditions for teachers and kids.

Because learning takes time.


Linda B said...

Love all the parts you mentioned, and specifically time, which implies patience. It sounds as if you are being patient with yourself too, Carol. Glad you've jumped right in!

Ruth Ayres said...

Your idea of failure being a condition for independence and confidence is fascinating to me. I've never thought of failure in this way -- as a catalyst to becoming more confident and more independent. But it is. I really should appreciate failure more than I do! (ha!)
Shine on,

Ramona said...

I tried my first google doc last month, and now I'm trying to set one up for the parent volunteers for Mock Newbery clubs. You are inspiring! I don't have a clue about conditional formatting. One baby step at a time.

Mary Lee said...

Hooray for learning! It keeps us alive!

Earl said...

yay for learning. your post reminded me of how i had to learn excel at my old job and how i just rolled my eyes at it. but the more i learned the more fun i had with it! said...

I love your honesty about the challenges of learning (constantly) new technology. It's hard and there are bumps on the road; yet, on the other side, we can't figure out how we lived without it!

Terje said...

Cheering to you!