What I’ll miss about my friendly fellow educators

(I hardly think of them as fellow students, though they are) is what they have taught me. 

The Educational Technology Cohort at CUChicago that I am leaving soon engaged in an ongoing democratic seminar, a kind of electronic Socratic method or symposium, with each of us asking and answering each other’s questions, and learning thereby.  It’s been almost two years, and I will miss it.

The role of the professor is radically diminished in this hybrid course model; students teach each other through presentations and discussions. By design, the CUC program gets teachers collaborating and discussing. Along with the selection of readings and the pacing of learning projects, the parallel learning is of this cohort is its real genius.   

Although we were uniformly white middle class high school and middle school teachers, we encompassed a nice array of interests, ages, styles, and expertise. There was not as much agreement on issues as you might expect from such a homogeneous group. A range of interpretations made the Blackboard-based discussions almost delectable. The cohort reminded me that one needs a set of critical eyes to spot holes in one’s arguments or blind spots in one’s professional awareness.

Here’s an excellent example of the kind of incisive, well-expressed writing my cohort provided me–this from math teacher John Bowman, who was responding to something I wrote about the worth of various types of data (emphasis added):

As you pointed out from the outset, each of these forms of assessment has its place in education. What is important is recognizing that collecting data using each of these forms serves a different purpose. Knowing what the purpose of each is sets on the correct path to being able to use the data collected from the various sources to improve our instruction. Whether that be immediate changes to a lesson based on student response systems, determining the specific strengths and weaknesses of individual students via adaptive testing, or whether or not a curriculum stands up to state or national standards and if our students are achieving at those levels. Like people in the trades, we must know our tools along with when and how to use them properly. Furthermore, we must recognize that not one of these tools does it all.

So farewell, CUC cohort. I hope we can continue in each other’s PLNs, perhaps following each other on twitter where I am @abendelow.

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