Practitioner Voice

Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 8.59.53 AMSeveral items crossed my various feeds this past weekend, prompting me to surface ideas about the importance of practitioner voice in advancing the vision we seek for teaching and learning:

While our PLNs may appear to consist of lots of practitioners – teachers and leaders working hard to transform daily practice and writing about it/sharing to a wider network – the #edreform conversation seems to be dominated by those who have little to do with actual teaching and learning in our schools. Take for example what Lia De Cicco Remu shares in the Microsoft article referenced above.

She believes pencils, paper, and chalkboards are all outdated methods of teaching. If De Cicco Remu has her way, “inking”, or using a stylus and a tablet, will be the new handwriting. Also, kids need to have the appropriate products–all Microsoft, of course. (She plugs Office 365 and OneNote as being helpful for classroom settings.)

Who is De Cicco Remu? Check out her LinkedIn profile – certainly not someone like you or me. So why do corporate, non-practitioner voices drown out the voices of practitioners doing the actual work? Not that we shouldn’t listen to anything she or other non-practitioners have  to say, but let’s be critical about the context which many of the “edreformers” are working in. She is just one of many – many just making waves at the surface.

While the formalized media floods the #edreform channels with these voices, practitioner voice is, in my opinion, more powerful and practical since practitioners speak from experience not just the théorie de la journée. They have a unique perspective that must be more valued. They are teachers and leaders innovating in classrooms and schools, reflecting on their practice through writing and sharing powerful experiences and new ways of thinking about education, leading, teaching and learning with a wider audience. Actually doing the work! Many have mastered the six key principals of influence/persuasion outlined in the video linked above as demonstrated by their success and popularity.

There are many influential practitioners with whom to connect, but we simply need more to join the conversation. Here is a very, very limited list of my favorite practitioner voices. They are doing the work, writing about it and sharing it for the benefit of all of us.

How do we propel the practitioner voice into the mainstream of the #edreform conversation, drowning out the nonsense that currently exists outside of our echo chamber? What can we do as leaders to create the space and time for teachers and other leaders to reflect on and share their practice? (Admittedly, I need to do a better, more consistent job of this myself.) How might the six key principals of persuasion help us influence others to make the effort to share their practice?



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