It was easy from the beginning. I had a full day to plan appropriate tech workshops for the lower school faculty. We were in the middle of developing our writing curriculum so digital storytelling seemed like a wonderful idea. I asked Kent Manning to facilitate- not only an expert in DST but also fascinated with literacy and boys– a no brainer. A few weeks later I met him in our lobby, gave him a tour, and plomped him down in a classroom full of first grade writers. A few minutes later, two young boys were eagerly sharing their stories (and their valentine snacks) looking up at Kent as if he were Father Christmas. What he was doing was following Jeff Willhelm’s social contract- get to know me, take an interest in me, and make sure I learn. I wondered if he would have the same success with our faculty the next day.
An hour in on Friday and I knew he had them hooked. Sharing his experiences, giving us tips for techniques, helping us with subject choice, and above all, showing us some stories- there wasn’t a fidget in the group- and by the end of the day, not a dry eye. The day was about writing and it was about using technology to produce some wonderful stories- but more than that, it was about a writing coach helping his students find meaningful stories to tell. With his guidance, some switched from writing about a dog or a trip, to about 9/11 and adoption. We spread out and got to work. We wrote, wrote and wrote some more. Then we had to revise and share. Finally we recorded and found images. At 3 Kent closed our day- but only those with planes and trains to catch left- the rest stayed to continue sharing and chatting.
We had learned about digital storytelling. But we had also learned about ourselves and about each other. How often does a professional development work day truly do that?