Monday, November 27, 2017

Slow start and slight pivot

When I packed my bags in Stockholm back in early October to begin the trek home from the Google Innovator Academy (#SWE17) I was experiencing information and idea overload. I was inspired to revolutionize teacher-student relationships and conquer students' digital media illiteracy, and I set a goal for the end of the first quarter of my year-long project that I thought was modest. When I shared the goal with the cohort during one of our final sessions, Becky Evans said, "Wow. That's ambitious." Really? I thought, but didn't say.

My goal: by the end of the quarter I will have recruited at least two teachers to form think tanks in at least one of their classes. Students will be posting regularly and the teachers will have begun to introduce ideas from the think tanks into class which has encouraged student voluntary membership in the think tanks to grow organically.

That's it: two teachers, two classes. I built this Google Site to explain the concept of class-based social media think tanks and shared it with some colleagues. I met with a building administrator to explain the concept and received administrative sanction to roll-out my plan.

In a nutshell, here is what I proposed:

To create a class think tank.
  • Invite members of your class to join - everything is voluntary and nothing is graded!
  • Choose a social media platform that will work for the group's members: a closed Facebook group, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
  • As a team, create a name for yourselves.
  • Decide upon a team hashtag (#)
  • Invite think tank members to share reflections about what you are doing in class via the social media platform, using your think tank's chosen hashtag. 

In addition I provided a page with ideas for maximizing the positive classroom impact of the good work happening in the think tank and expand how the think tank could be used (scale it up!).

Well, I am now at the 6 week mark. I haven't revolutionized anything. Of the three teachers who initially expressed interest in creating social media think tanks for their classes, only one remains involved in the planning. She has backed pedaled from the idea of a class-based think tank and instead, since she is one of the co-advisers, invited me to pitch the idea to the student council. These colleagues who co-advise the student council are new to those roles this year. One of their goals, developed with the council, is to increase the leadership training and experience of council members. To support that initiative we are going to launch (actually I made the group this morning) a closed Facebook group that will serve as a leadership think tank for the council members and, when the council decides it is time to grow the group, other leaders among the student body will be invited to join.

After I introduced the idea to the students this morning, we brainstormed ways the Facebook group could be used:

  • students could read and discuss books about student leadership, books like Social LEADia and By Any Media Necessary.
  • when students learn about a conference they can post it in the group
  • when students attend a conference they can post notes and ideas gained at the conference in the group
  • students who are struggling to gain or motivate followers for an initiative can use the group to share who they gained empathy with, the cause they are addressing, what feedback they got from stakeholders, what methods they have tried, and then get help from their peers.
  • TED Talks! Who doesn't love a good TED Talk discussion? Like Derek Sivers on how to start a movement.
  • Models of leadership: when students see leadership in action, they can capture it and post it to the think tank so leaders-in-training can dissect what makes an effective leader.

It is a start. I am excited to get started. If all goes well, the leadership think tank will take off. The teachers involved will be excited about the potential of a similar group in their classes and the initiative will grow. We'll see. I am cautiously optimistic.

1 comment:

  1. Slow starts can lead to amazing endings. You are a passionate educator and have come up with a great project. I'm sure you'll end up inspiring more people than originally planned. All the best!