Why time in the hallways is time well spent

In my Day in the Life video I say this a couple of times and  I can’t stress it enough to education technology teachers/integrators out there that the time you spend in the hallways is time well spent.

This morning I was on my way to get a cup of coffee as per my usual morning routine. I have three different routes I can take to the cafeteria an try to take a different way everyday. Why? Because they lead past different classrooms giving me access to those teachers and students. You never know where you will find a conversation, an opportunity to learn, or an opportunity to teach.

I walked down the art hall today and as I passed the middle school art room I spotted an 8th grade girl who has done some digital art work for me in the past (she loves gimp and uses it exclusively). So I popped in and watched her work on a painting she was doing, and asked her some questions. Found out that they have been studying Friedrich Hundertwasser (German Wikipedia entry) and were in the process of creating a painting based off his style. The teacher came over and we chatted for a little while about the project, the research they did on Friedrich and this culminating activity.

I love art rooms, kids everywhere, music always blaring, and yet focus…always such focus on the work.

I then went on my way down to the cafeteria where I ran into our high school AP history teacher who was getting coffee as well. She started talking about the Moodle course she’s running with her students and how she loves the forums and how they allow students to think before they respond. We talked about how many of our students who are second language English speakers do not participate in class because the conversation moves to quickly. They cannot formulate their responses fast enough to be part of the conversation. What she has found though is that in the forums the students are able to respond, and respond very well.

What really excited her though was how the students are continuing to talk about topics long after they have moved on in class. The example she gave was a topic they studied 4 weeks ago and the forum discussion was around the passing of amendments after the civil war. She told me that they still bring it up in class and it continues to influence in class discussions. The fact that “They won’t stop posting and discussing it.” is what makes these programs so powerful. There is a record of the conversation, a conversation that is not over until the community has decided that it’s over. You want to talk about going deeper into a subject or issue? How about a topic that students were suppose to leave 4 weeks ago, are not getting graded on anymore, but are still continuing to talk about and discuss in and out of class. She’s also working with another AP class in the States and the two classes are working on some forums together…very cool.

We talked some more and I gave her some tips on how to quickly view where and what each student has posted in Moodle without having to scan every single forum entry. She was grateful for the tip and I could see the shine in her eyes at though I had just given her a golden ticket…which I did…her time.

I then walked back to my office and found an e-mail waiting for me from the middle school art teacher who’s class I had popped into 10 minutes earlier. She wanted to know if I could help her take pictures of the student’s art work and put it on our school flickr account.

So in the 15 minutes I left my office this morning. I learned something, taught something, and opened a door to an opportunity to support a teacher. Our job is about building relationships, you will not be invited into a classroom if you cannot create the opportunities to be invited.

So take some time, go get a cup of coffee and walk the halls. If a Principal asks you what you are doing just say “I’m building relationships for learning!”


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