By Chris Wilson
Last week I was in Miami, FL presenting at the Miami Book Fair International –– School of Comics and Graphic Novels. Inspiring and teaching and all that jazz is a lot of fun. I get to share my passion and expertise. I like it. What can I say? When I got back, my family and I were hanging out with some friends who also happen to be parents at my school. The dad asked me –– for the second time, mind you –– about teaching programming in my class. He spent some time talking about how programming is exciting and engaging and inspires critical thinking.
I've heard this before from him, and I agree with him. The problem is, I don't have any practical experience in programming. I know a lot about technology, but not code. So I am uncomfortable. I have to learn something new and then teach it. It's hard. I'm busy. I expect to do it magnificently or not at all.
Within 24 hours of my presentation to a crowd of teachers who pay to learn more from me, I find myself on the receiving end of the professional development. I am the one being challenged and prodded. He is persistent and passionate and I feed on that energy.
Why am I not teaching some programming? I run a technology lab. I should be teaching this. I have no excuse except my own shortcomings in that aspect. That's no excuse for any teacher who demands excellence from his students. I have high expectations of them and they and their parents should have high expectations of me.
I went home that night and immediately used Facebook, sending out a distress call to everyone I know asking for ideas on how to teach programming to elementary students. Perhaps I should be embarrassed that I, a technology lab instructor, do not know programming. I am not. I have no problems admitting where I need to grow and learn as a teacher. If I allow my own inadequacies to keep me closed to new experiences, then I am limiting my students and keeping them down. No great sin occurs in the classroom. Besides, I don't mind admitting I'm don't know everything. I think education would make more strides toward innovation if more educators could openly admit their need to grow and seek out new opportunities.
So far, I've had several responses from my Facebook friends who've offered great ideas and resources to help me. All I need to now is read what they've sent, install some free software on 29 computers, and get started.
I hope people listening to my presentations feel my passion and energy the same way I felt it from my friend and parent from my school. If we continue to inspire one another, we will make life-changing strides in the field of education. It just takes overflowing love from those experts to fill those of us who are unsure and uneasy. And reasources. It takes lots of easy resources and specific implementation ideas to make a classroom a place kids want to learn.